Inspiring stories of success, joy and refusing retirement from renegades rocking life after 50.

Harriet Newman Cohen

Episode 014 Divorce Lawyer At 90!

Have you ever said this to yourself or others? “I am too old to ______”. Fill in the blank with whatever that is for you. And then…watch my interview with the incredible Harriet Newman Cohen. Because you might just rethink any limiting beliefs you’ve been feeding yourself about age! Harriet is a practicing divorce lawyer in New York City. This means she is also a practicing trial lawyer. At 90. As a matter of fact, she recently opened her newest law firm with her business partner… Her daughter. Who is 70. See? Told ya…



Favorite Quotes:

“Probably this is my last law firm because I don’t think I want to stay in practice more than about 10 more years.”  

“90 can be pretty young. 80 is very young. 70 is a baby.”

“You need to be courageous. Go for it. Don’t stay home.

Don’t be a recluse. Get out there.”

Favorite Moments From The Interview

Harriet has such amazing stories!

Twins that weren’t related except through the mother…

An incredible trial that was made into an HBO Max docudrama…

The story of her beloved second husband and how they ended up…(well, you’ll have to watch for that one!)

There’s simply no question. Harriet is living life fully!

Why The Renegade Boomer Community Will Love It

If you’ve ever thought, even for a minute, that you were no longer relevant or capable…listening to Harriet should shine a light on what is possible for YOU.

She is thoughtful, wise, funny, and so very interesting.

And she plans to work until she is 100. For real.

So, watch and learn…find your inspiration!

Because like Harriet says, you need to get out there!

Start now…

Find Me On Social Media:

View Transcript

[00:00:00] Tina: Hi, this is Tina Lorenz, your host for the Renegade Boomer™ Anti-Retirement podcast, and I’m just so honored to have the guest that I get to speak with today, and I’ve been looking forward to this for a week. Had to get on her schedule. I’m so thrilled to introduce Harriet Newman Cohen, who’s the founding partner of Cohen Stine and Kapoor, LLP.

And I just love this because she’s been consistently listed as one of the top 50 female lawyers by New York Metro Super Lawyers, so she kind of knows what she’s talking about. She has so much experience and represents celebrities and other high net worth individuals and other worthy clients, including the former governor Andrew Cuomo, the former wives of the Weinstein Brothers, NBA star Paul George, and so many more.

So, so many amazing accolades and life accomplishments. But before I say hi to you officially, I think the quote from an interview you did with Oprah Daily sums it up beautifully. The headline was “88-Year-Old Divorce Lawyer Calls Retirement The Enemy.” And she said, “Retirement for me would be an enemy because I have so much to offer.”

So please help me welcome Harriet onto the call today. So, hi, thanks for joining me.

[00:01:07] Harriet: Oh, thank you for inviting me. It’s a pleasure. It’s an honor to be interviewed by you, Tina.

[00:01:13] Tina: Oh, thank you so much. That’s so kind. And Harriet, right this very moment is sitting over Eighth Avenue in New York City. She just let me know. And I just love that you called this—

It isn’t like you probably had to do this at this point of life to start yet another legal firm, but you call it your third life. And my understanding is you began this on New Year’s day of 2021.

[00:01:35] Harriet: Exactly! Exactly. This was what COVID brought. Well, I don’t know if that’s the right word. But as a result of COVID, I made the decision that it was time to do another law firm, a different law firm, that my daughter who had been practicing with me for all of the years in the prior law firm, and my oldest of the four daughters, that she and I should be partners in this new law firm.

Probably, this is my last law firm because I don’t think I wanna stay in practice more than about 10 more years. And I generally like to do 10 years per law firm, which would mean at this point that I would tell her it’s her firm when I’m a hundred because I’m 90.

[00:02:16] Tina: I just love this so much, and you just shared with me that you just had your 90th birthday bash and that you might have someone lurking outside your door saying, “Don’t say your age.”

[00:02:26] Harriet: For sure. But you know, once somebody reads what I’ve written or meets me, they realize, and I think this is true for so many people, and it’s very, very exciting, 90 can be pretty young. 80 is very young. 70 is a baby. In fact, the daughter who is my partner will be 70 on her birthday, and I still think of her as just my biggest kid. And I think that the world has changed. I’m not sure why, but it’s part of the reason why I will not retire.

[00:02:58] Tina: I just love this because, you know, the whole Renegade Boomer™ Anti-Retirement Movement is about the old laws that say everybody retired by 65 when it was archaic in the first place, and they didn’t think anyone would live to be 65 most likely at that point.

[00:03:12] Harriet: Well, I certainly recall when a very big seller over-the-counter was called Serutan, which meant natures written backwards. And it was for people who were middle-aged. Middle-aged was defined as 35. At that point, people had had all of their children, women married. If you didn’t marry by 21, there was another label. You were an old maid.

[00:03:32] Tina: Yeah.

[00:03:33] Harriet: Nobody would want you. You had your children in the 20s, by 35, they had worn you out, that’s for sure. And you were entering middle-aged. It’s really not like that anymore. And I think that has something to do with the reason why the older, oldest generation, myself and my friends who are older than me, I think it’s why we are so young, because everything changed.

[00:03:57] Tina: It’s about time, wouldn’t you say?

[00:04:00] Harriet: I would. I would certainly say so. I do think also that the IT world, that the technical world, I think that has had a lot to do with people staying very young. I think the information explosion had a lot to do with people staying very, very young and on top of their professions. Not to mention that it’s a very expensive economy and I don’t know what retirees do when the paycheck stops coming.

[00:04:27] Tina: Yeah, well a lot of them really struggle. So, let’s talk about that because you call this your third life journey, that is third life aspect, and I don’t know what the fourth one’s gonna be.

[00:04:37] Harriet: Well, I’m very happy with the third. Of course, I miss certain things from the second. I had an extraordinarily wonderful second husband in my second life, and I miss him terribly because he did die.

And the third life at my age, it has different opportunities and different experiences. The people I meet who are part of my social circle, some of them are a lot older than me, wiser than me, still very, very viable. It’s very, very exciting.

[00:05:10] Tina: And don’t you think this is one of the gifts of aging, the legacy, you know, really what we have to offer to those coming behind us and those that are even not that much difference in age. You just mentioned that you have friends older than you and you already have shared with us the amazing news that you’re 90 and with your new practice.

So that means you’re still learning from people that could be up to a hundred and maybe beyond, I don’t know.

[00:05:31] Harriet: I am. And I read the New York Times every day, the paper version. I always turn first to the obituaries. There are many people who do. The writers who write about the people who have just passed on write magnificent stories. I think it’s the most interesting part of the paper, what the accomplishments are of these celebrity human beings who have died and what they have contributed. And it’s just remarkable to see that people are 107, people are 104, many, many people over 95.

And at this point, when I see somebody who has died in the early 80s or God forbid in the 70s, I really feel like we’ve lost a young person. It’s a big shift.

[00:06:14] Tina: And I think the mindset of this is so important. Do you also feel it’s how you view yourself, your own mindset, your own thoughts about your viability, your worth, your value, all those things, do you think that contributes to your longevity and your good health and all those things as well?

[00:06:29] Harriet: I do. I recently read an article in the science section for the Lay Press, that positive thoughts of a particular nature actually can interface with stuff that’s going on neurologically, neurobiologically, neuroscientifically in your body. You can really get better. I guess Norman Vincent Peale called it “The Power of Positive Thinking.”

[00:06:54] Tina: Yeah.

[00:06:55] Harriet: I think now they have found it’s not just the rubric positive thinking, it actually has signals, messages that get sent to the brain, to the receptors, and the neuroscientists are looking into whether or not that kind of thought can help heal disease. I think that it can.

[00:07:14] Tina: I think so too. I totally believe that because you are creating new neural pathways in our brain, kind of new superhighways of this is my reality, this is my truth, this is my belief. And our beliefs really dictate our life, our lifestyle as well, don’t you think?

[00:07:29] Harriet: Oh, for sure. For sure. So my lifestyle includes 24/7 in terms of my practice. I’m a trial lawyer in the family law, custody, divorce area. I am a wise counselor, sage counselor here in my office where my clients, if we can avoid court, which is very wonderful, if it’s at all possible and we map out the rest of their lives, generally getting them into a situation where they are freeing themselves one way or another of a person who doesn’t like them anymore.

And I always start by saying to them, you know, “Don’t be so crestfallen that you are perhaps seeing yourself as a ‘discarded spouse’. You don’t wanna be with somebody who doesn’t wanna be with you. It’s very toxic. So whether you are the victim of it or whether you are the prime mover, you are going to go to a better place. And we’re gonna work it out so that financially, you’ll be okay. But in terms of your everyday life, you are gonna be a much happier person after this divorce.” I don’t see divorce as a negative. I see it as a positive.

[00:08:36] Tina: And it’s just one of those transitions in life. I mean, sometimes, it just doesn’t cease to be an equitable and happy arrangement for both people. And so isn’t it better to be able to move on in peace, right?

[00:08:47] Harriet: Definitely. Yeah. There are bad things going on in elder households—pushing, shoving, cruel words, cutting cruel words.

My wonderful husband in my second life whose picture is right behind me, he was a physician and he was kind and brilliant. He used to say, you know, a broken piece of china. He used to say words are like china. If you break the china, you might glue it together again, but it’s never gonna be quite the same. And once those harsh words are spoken, you can’t take them back. They’re out there. You have to learn to deal with it and do the best you can. The therapists, I’m sure, have some good ways of trying to move forward, but cruelty in words is a very toxic thing in a household.

[00:09:33] Tina: I totally agree with that. The power of words is so, I think, overlooked sometimes when it comes to just how we think and what we’re saying and what we’re allowing into our own minds with the words that are being said around us, that type of thing. And really just being mindful of the impact of the words and not just spewing them out, you know, just because, “Well, I said that once 20 years ago. I guess I’ll try it again now because it’s a nice cruel thing to say to this person I’m mad at,” or whatever.

[00:09:57] Harriet: Right. Right. And the other thing is pressing that button send on the email when you’re in a rage, in an altered place because something has stung, so you can’t take that back. It’s gone and also very, very withering-like words. So people have to try to curtail those feelings. And as I say, if that’s the way people are living, I’m a divorce lawyer, if that’s the way people are living and they come and they share some stories with me, I feel that they’re better off going their separate ways.

[00:10:30] Tina: Right. And peacefully. I can tell that your highest goal is for that to be a peaceful scenario and have it work for both sides really.

[00:10:38] Harriet: Well, you want to get to the peaceful scenario. Sometimes, you have to go through a battle or even a war to get there. I’m not a pacifist and my approach is not, “Okay, we’ll just let them have what they want. It’s gonna be okay.” No, no. We fight like crazy. And you sometimes have to get those juices running, and do what you have to do to stand up for yourself and not take it anymore. I’m not gonna take it anymore.

[00:11:02] Tina: I think this is so interesting.

[00:11:02] Harriet: I feel good about that.

[00:11:03] Tina: In many respects it sounds like your career has some very stressful elements to it if you have to go in and, you know, go to war kind of a thing. I can imagine some people saying, “Oh, Harriet, you’re getting older now. Maybe this isn’t so good for you.” So how do you feel about that? Because I heard you say it gets your juices going as well.

[00:11:18] Harriet: Oh, the juices keep you young. The other wonderful thing about my life, things about my life, I’m a mentor. Older people tend to be mentors. And in my organization, I have younger people. I mean, obviously, I’m the oldest here. I’m the oldest wherever I go. I’m the oldest in the restaurant. I’m the oldest in the theaters. I’m the oldest everywhere. I’ve become accustomed to that. But here in my organization, I’ve had the opportunity to mentor incredible young people, and they have been very, very close to me.

A funny thing happens about age, Tina, as I know you know, when you get to know a person really well and you work together and you’re in the trenches and you have sleepless nights, both of you and so on, age vanishes. Age vanishes. I learned from them. They obviously learned from me. They tell me that, you know, I was a wonderful thing that happened in their lives, and I believe them because I’m older. I am a mentor. I have had almost a century of experience and knowledge and including an outstanding childhood. My formative years were very outstanding, which I believe may contribute to this last decade that I’m going to live. I really think the childhood had a lot to do with this last decade, which I’m happy to talk about.

But my young people keep me very, very young. And the idea that they are so outspoken to me in expressing their gratitude while they work for me. Years and years and years later when I hear from them and they say, what an experience that was, what a journey, what a ride.

So, when you say retire, what am I gonna do if I retire? Everything will be like a weekend and it won’t be any fun. How many books can you read? How many movies can you watch? How many walks can you take? But in my field, people come through my door and they say, “I need help. Can you help me?” Oh my God. It’s like God’s work, you know? And it just makes you feel like a million dollars.

[00:13:17] Tina: That’s amazing. I love that so much. And I love that you have your late husband’s photo there with you kind of watching over. And may I ask, because it sounds like this was a tremendous loss for you when you lost him from your life.

So, do you have any advice because as we all get older, most of us at some point faced something along those lines, the loss. How did you get yourself together and keep going?

[00:13:38] Harriet: Well, not long after I lost my husband, Joan Didion lost her husband and she wrote that wonderful book “The Year of Magical Thinking”.

[00:13:46] Tina: Mm-hmm.

[00:13:46] Harriet: And I know that I had that year or more than that year of the same kind of magical thinking. He was always in my thoughts and in my dreams, and I didn’t want to give away his clothes. And I kept the shoes in the closet in the hope that, you know, he would step into them. He was a very, very wonderful man. He was a beautiful man. He was a beloved doctor.

How did I cope afterwards? He used to tell me that a spouse who lost a beloved spouse should not jump into the grave with their spouse. He said his mother had done that, that when she lost her husband, she spent every weekend sitting under a tree at the grave, and he said to himself he would never do that.

So when he was 50 years old, he lost his 45-year-old wife to melanoma. At approximately the same time, my husband of 21 years, my high school sweetheart, with whom I had four beautiful, amazing daughters who are all hugely accomplished, he took one suitcase and he left.

So my beautiful second husband and I both found ourselves bereaved at approximately the same time. He was willing a year later to meet me. I was willing. It was a year as well. It was just, like it happened in heaven to meet somebody, and I met him. We fell madly, madly in love. I thought I was old. I was 41. He thought he was old. He was 50. But he said to me early on, he said, “You know, I have my two children.” They were little older than my four. He said, “I’ve had a beautiful life with my beautiful wife. I will never marry again.” And I used to say to him, “Arthur,” his name was Arthur. My great-grandchild is now named Arthur after my Art. “Arthur, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter.” And then he would say to me, you know, “Because I don’t love you.” And I would say to him, “Arthur, if this is not love, it’s okay with me. I’ve never been treated this way. I’ve never been revered, adored. It’s okay. Whatever it is you have for me, that’s okay.”

[00:15:45] Tina: “Whatever you want to call it.”

[00:15:47] Harriet: “That’s okay.” We then had nine wonderful years together where he helped me raised four children. Of course, he wasn’t gonna marry again. He was a widower. His children were grown. And my youngest was 11 years old.

[00:15:58] Tina: Oh, wow.

[00:15:58] Harriet: Girls, weddings, you know, of course he wasn’t gonna marry. And one day, nine years into our relationship, he said to me, “How would you like to get married?” Oh my God. I said, “I would like to.” And we eloped. We came back and told the six children. They were very, very happy. And we had 23 years together after that.

So that was beautiful. And then he was gone. And Joan Didion’s husband was gone and the year of magical thinking of bereavement, of sadness, and then I just pulled myself together.

And here’s one thing I can share with you. I was asked to give a talk, a public affairs talk at a private club in Manhattan called the Lotus Club. It was a very big deal because these are very, very elegant, classy tony people. I gave my talk. I worked hard. It was extremely well-received, and I got a year of privileges.

Now I’m a widow, like many of your viewers, and wasn’t going anywhere in the evenings, feeling very sorry for myself. And they said, “You get a year of privileges and then if you’d like to join, put in your application.” It’s quite a stringent process. It became my home away from home. I was welcome there without a mate. I was able to be in mixed company, people my own age. It was a life-saver and a godsend. And I say to the people who are listening, find a life. Do a life. It’s wonderful. Go out to dinner. Be with people.

My brother who retired, he was a doctor and he found woodworking. He’s very happy with his woodworking, and there are people who retire who are very happy with what they find, but it’s just not for me.

[00:17:41] Tina: Yep. Yeah. I understand that feeling. And I hear you say you’re doing God’s work, right? Why would you give that up? Why would you give up that divine connection to being able to serve? And also, don’t you find that as you serve others, it also serves you?

[00:17:55] Harriet: Oh, a hundred percent. A hundred percent. What do you mean when you say that? I wanna hear if it’s what I mean.

[00:18:01] Tina: I mean, it feeds your spirit. It feeds your soul as well and strengthens you. And that it’s like we’re all connected at some level, all of us, so there’s that wisdom that is shared one way or another. Even from those we’re serving, we learn from them as well.

[00:18:15] Harriet: We do.

[00:18:16] Tina: And that reciprocity, when you talk about mentoring the younger people. What a great gift to you as you’ve mentored them, and they say thank you, you know, thank you, that you know you’re leaving a lasting legacy with the person that you touch in that way.

[00:18:30] Harriet: So you are right. It is a reciprocity. It’s a big time reciprocity because they’re taking in experience so that’s getting into their bones, the fact that they’re with an older person. And when we talk about a time gone by, which for me is very recent, it’s very good for them. It’s like reading a book. But I learn so much from them. I learn how they view the world, their attitude towards other human beings, towards their parents, towards their siblings.

In my firm, we have a morning meeting every Friday morning where all of the lawyers sit down together over bagels, and we jointly talk about thorny issues in our cases. And we are very, very generous in sharing. Nobody holds back. Everybody wants all of the clients to be well-served by us because we’re good people, and we also have a mercenary motive because if our clients are happy, our firm thrives. We get more clients. So all of us, everybody in the firm knows that it’s one for all and all for one because at the end of the day, it’s not only emotionally and morally beautiful, it’s bottom line.

[00:19:34] Tina: Absolutely.

[00:19:35] Harriet: We’re in business. We have to make money. I have to pay the rent. It’s wonderful, a lot of reciprocity.

[00:19:41] Tina: Well, I think the beauty of this is that it really is okay to make money as well, you know. And when you talk about that a lot of folks that move into retirement time and they think, well, you know, they’re kind of marginalized or they feel like— For you, you’ve been so blessed that it sounds like you’ve had kind of a continuous journey as far as the type of work you do that has stayed at the core of everything.

But for some people, maybe they’ve been in a situation like, I spoke with someone the other day who was trained as an artist but thought that she needed to become an attorney, actually. She lives in Canada. And she went through all the process and graduated like eighth in her class and said she’s retired from being an attorney because she said for her, that never really fed what she really wanted to do. And it was so ironic that she said her father was disappointed that she’d become an attorney instead of an artist. But now in this chapter of her life, she’s going back to her roots of being an artist.

And so, I think that’s kind of the other side of that coin, that duality that someone comes into, “Now’s my time. Now I can actually do the thing I’ve always wanted to do.” Do you find that with your clients when they’re going through a change in their life with the divorces and things, do you ever find that they’ve been like, “I’ve been doing this particular work and really, I wanna do,” you know, “I’ve been an architect and I really wanna be a clothing designer.” Do you find that in the people you’re working with?

[00:20:57] Harriet: Well, I find everything. With respect to this period in their life, unfortunately, it does have to start with money because if there’s enough money for both households, for people to be able to pursue their dreams and do something they always wanted to do, that’s very, very wonderful. But you need a lot of money for that. Many, many people are living in the margins and on the edges. There’s not quite enough for the one household. Now, there’s gonna have to be something for both households. Sometimes, the homemaker has to find some menial work, a shop girl, a receptionist in a beauty parlor, not at some dream job, not a fashion designer, you know, with Valentino. The young, young people are coming out of the schools and taking those jobs. And those jobs these days are very often technological. I have a granddaughter-in-law, and her designing is done on a computer. She’s not sitting with a pencil anymore.

And sometimes, when my people are coming out of many years of homemaking services, child rearing, that has passed them by, and it’s very hard to pick up those technological skills when you’re a little bit older. So, yes, some people have the opportunity to then after the divorce, do everything they wanted to do. There has to be a lot of money for that.

[00:22:23] Tina: Yep. Yeah. So then we get in the whole area of lifelong learning, and I know you already said you’re still learning from those that have moved ahead of you. And it sounds to me like you also learned a great deal from the younger people in your life as well. And how do you feel about that?

[00:22:37] Harriet: I do. I do. And with me, the learning is also book learning because the law constantly changes. Cases come down. They create a change in the law in my field, in matrimonial family custody law. But look at the big picture. The United States Supreme Court repealed, took back, Roe versus Wade. That’s a family law issue. It has brought to the fore many new kinds of cases that I have to deal with.

I also learn because lifestyle has changed. There’s gender fluidity now, and it’s no longer only binary. And I deal with trans families and I deal with non-binary, people born in one who want to be the other. That is trans, of course. And it affects my life very much.

I was the lawyer in a very important case, which became an HBO Max, I think, yeah, a documentary. It’s playing right now. It’s called Nuclear Family. It was the story of two moms, two women. And it was the late ’80s, so it was at a time where if lesbian moms had children, it was very dangerous because the government would take them away from them if they knew that they were being raised by lesbian moms. And these two moms decided to have sperm donations from, not anonymous donors, but from two gay guys.

And so two daughters were born. And the deal was that the sperm donors, not the fathers, would make themselves known kind of as an uncle. At the point where the child said, “Who is my daddy? It’s Father’s Day, where’s my daddy?” And they lived that way, seeing each other in the summertime and other times, and having relationship—the two little girls, the two moms, and the two guys—until one of them sued for custody. That was not supposed to be part of the deal. And that’s what the documentary is about.

I was the lawyer for the mom. I mapped the strategy. I won’t do a spoiler alert. It’s three episodes. And I do recommend that your listeners, your viewers, watch it. It’s very, very fascinating. That was the early ’90s.

I’ve dealt with those kinds of issues, cutting-edge issues all the way through surrogacy. I deal with surrogacy issues. These days, there are host mothers who are not genetically related to the baby. Many gay men who marry wish to have a child. They provide the sperm, their sperm, one of them, to a surrogate mother. Then they have a baby, which is their own baby. In fact, I had a case where each of the fathers provided sperm, and the mother gave birth to twins. One was genetically related to one of the fathers, and the other one was genetically related to the other father. Unfortunately, I knew them when they were divorcing. They had twin boys who were only related to each other by the mother, not by the fathers.

[00:25:30] Tina: Wow. Oh my gosh.

[00:25:31] Harriet: So it keeps me young, Tina. Yes. I mean, these are cutting-edge issues.

[00:25:35] Tina: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, fascinating. I think I can sit and just listen to your stories all day. I mean, fascinating. And I am gonna watch that documentary too, by the way.

[00:25:44] Harriet: Yes. I think you will like it.

[00:25:46] Tina: I think so.

[00:25:46] Harriet: Oh, I should add, it’s a documentary made by the girl who was the center of the controversy. She was nine, she’s now 39, and she’s a documentarian. This is her story.

[00:25:58] Tina: Oh my gosh. What a fascinating life you live. I mean, rich.

[00:26:01] Harriet: Yeah, for sure.

[00:26:02] Tina: And I can see how that has to keep you young because your brain has to constantly be adapting to really issues and moral aspects and all of these things that we had no idea about a few decades ago.

[00:26:16] Harriet: It’s the truth. Wow. And yet, I can recall my childhood. It was a very rich childhood. We didn’t have Zoom. We didn’t have the internet. But it was a very rich childhood. We had books. We had theater. We had opera. And people who are living today, they probably think it was kind of deprived to live when I was a little girl in the ’30s or in the ’40s, but it wasn’t. It was a very rich period also. Each of the decades that I’ve lived through has been a very, very rich period.

[00:26:48] Tina: How beautiful. And were you raised in New York then? Did you live in New York as a child?

[00:26:53] Harriet: So I lived in Providence, Rhode Island.

[00:26:55] Tina: Oh, okay.

[00:26:55] Harriet: Which was wonderful because I was able to be quite a grownup by the time I was 10 years old. It was a small city. I’m sure there was bad crime. I know the Lindbergh baby was kidnapped and killed. But somehow that didn’t have a stamp on my family. My mom and dad would allow me to take my little brother, get on the trolley car, go downtown by ourselves. So I felt like living in Providence was just ideal. It was idyllic.

And then when I was 12 and a half, I moved to New York. I went to public high school, James Madison High School in Brooklyn from which I went to Barnard College and I was a Latin major and I was gonna be a professor of Latin. But in those days, when you graduated, you got married, even Barnard girls. They did not go to law school. They didn’t go to medical school. I’m sure there was one or two, but that’s it. Not 50% like today.

[00:27:44] Tina: There is at least one or two because there you are.

[00:27:47] Harriet: Yeah. Well, but they all went back 18 years later. So I got out and I knew what I wanted to do was be the best mother in the world because I was the most educated woman. And if I had boys, they were gonna go into those professions. If I had girls, we would talk about it. But of course, everything changed. 18 years later, I went to law school. I left with my four children, studying around the dining room table with me.

My husband, the high school sweetheart thing did not work out that well. And he took one suitcase and left one week before my— Oh, so he was a very unhappy father and husband. I said, “I think I wanna go to law school.” And he said something like, “Over my dead body.” And I said, “No. I really think I am gonna go to law school.”

I went to talk to my mom and dad who were very wise people. I said, “I need you to give me an advance on my inheritance.” We’re not talking about wealthy people, you know. I needed $800, whatever that was worth in those days. And then my mom said, “If you go to law school, Phil will leave you.” And I said, “Well, you know, mom, if he’s gonna leave me, I better go to law school because I’m gonna need to be able to support myself.” So that was her first argument. And then she said, “You know, it’s not your turn. It’s the girl’s turn.” She was a very smart woman. And I said, “I know. I know, mom. But they and I are gonna sit at the dining room together. I am going to law school. Can I have the money?” She said, “You can have the money.” I went to law school, and he left.

[00:29:09] Tina: Well, she was wise, all right.

[00:29:11] Harriet: She was wise.

[00:29:12] Tina: And you as well to be able to take care of yourself and your daughters. And what an example to your children.

[00:29:17] Harriet: It was. They became professionals. My oldest daughter is my partner. My number two daughter is a professional flutist who is my office manager in the daytime. My number three daughter is an internist like her stepfather was. She was very inspired by my boyfriend. We were not married. It was nine years. And my youngest daughter is a trial lawyer in Madison, Wisconsin.

[00:29:40] Tina: Oh, wow.

[00:29:40] Harriet: All have children. Their children are all accomplished. And why would I retire? This little group, this little group doesn’t expect me to retire. They would not know what to do with me if I retired.

[00:29:53] Tina: Your older daughter can keep an eye on you this way.

[00:29:56] Harriet: She’s keeping an eye on me. She is.

[00:29:58] Tina: I can’t help but notice you mentioned that she was turning 70, so she hasn’t retired either.

[00:30:03] Harriet: Oh, no, no. And of course, you know, I think about things like, is there a part of her that would feel, “You know, Mom, it’s time. Let me just be the head of this firm. We don’t have to be equal partners. Time for you to go do something else, you know.” But she assures me that she has no such intention. And as I said, she will not be happy that people know how old I am because she’s gonna be afraid that’s gonna make me wanna retire.

[00:30:30] Tina: I’m sure this conversation will make a lot of people be blessed to be able to work with you.

[00:30:35] Harriet: Well, it’s been fun.

[00:30:36] Tina: Yeah, so I just appreciate so much that you’ve taken the time out of I’m sure your very busy schedule to do this. Do you have any advice along the way, like someone else that might be thinking, “Well, am I too old to do this thing? Am I too old to start something new? Am I gonna be relevant?” Do you have any advice? I mean, I think there’s been so much just in this conversation, but any other pointers that you would give to someone that might have a little more trepidation because it sounds like you’ve been just courageous all the way.

[00:31:01] Harriet: Yeah, I think you need to be courageous. You need to listen to your inner voice. My advice is go for it. By all means, go for it. And, possibly, you know, hook up with a younger person who will be a great inspiration as well. Just absolutely go for it. Don’t stay home. Don’t be a recluse. Don’t be a recluse. Get out there. Don’t worry about COVID. Don’t worry about illness or disease. Just get out there. You’ll feel better. You’ll feel better. Yeah. And I don’t think staying at home and being a recluse is not a healthy thing.

[00:31:33] Tina: No. It really isn’t. I think people have really suffered from it and for it so that we’re kinda still making up for that, of that fear being in a big crowd or things.

[00:31:41] Harriet: Right. And don’t get me wrong, COVID is around. A lot of people have it right now, but they don’t seem to be dying from it. I don’t see people going into ventilators. The Paxlovid seems to be working. There are some other things too. And I just feel that for people watching us, my sense is don’t run scared of everything. Get out there. You wanna put a mask on if you feel like you’re in a crowded place or you’re worried, so put the mask on. But don’t just stay home because of illness. I think that it’s the worst of the two evils.

[00:32:13] Tina: Yeah, actually, I agree. So, how can people find you? I mean, if someone wanted to get in touch and work with you, how would they locate you, Harriet?

[00:32:21] Harriet: Well, I have a website and all they have to do is put my name into Google, Harriet Newman Cohen or Harriet N. Cohen. I do have a website. It’s my firm. I have a biography there. There are many, many stories that were written about me there because I’ve been written up, I’ve been profiled, and it might be fun to do that. And then I have a VCard. VCard means you press it, it goes into your contacts. You now have my telephone number, my email address. Everybody can get in touch with me, and I would love to hear from your viewers.

[00:32:52] Tina: Oh, that’s wonderful. Thank you so much. I would love to have another conversation with you one day

[00:32:56] Harriet: I would too.

[00:32:57] Tina: If I make it to New York City for one of those New York bagels, maybe we can get together, huh?

[00:33:01] Harriet: Well, I will take you for a meal at the Lotus Club.

[00:33:04] Tina: Oh my gosh, I would love that.

[00:33:06] Harriet: And so would I. It’s a pleasure to get to know you, Tina. You’re a fabulous interviewer. Fabulous.

[00:33:11] Tina: Oh, thank you so much. Thank you so much for joining us today.

[00:33:13] Harriet: My pleasure and all my best to all of your viewers. They have good taste watching you.

[00:33:19] Tina: Oh, thanks so much.

[00:33:22] Harriet: Bye. Bye.

Copyright 2023 Tina Lorenz

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