Meet Anne Cochran, divorce attorney to the Silicon Valley elite

Meet Anne Cochran, divorce attorney to the Silicon Valley elite

By   –  Digital Editor, San Francisco Business Times

Marriage is supposed to be forever, but when it’s not, particularly for high-net-worth individuals in the Bay Area, a legal separation can cause ripple effects that cost millions. That’s when high-flying entrepreneurs and industry executives call Anne Cochran of Cochran FLP.

“I do a lot of high-net-worth divorces — many of them are big names,” she said.

As one of the leading family law attorneys serving wealthy clients throughout the Bay Area, Cochran last year was recognized by US News & World Report’s “Best Lawyers” category. After establishing her reputation at Whiting, Fallon, Ross & Abel LLP in Walnut Creek and Sideman & Bancroft LLP in San Francisco, she opened her own practice, Cochran Family Law Practice, in August 2022.

As a divorcée who shares equal custody with her ex-husband of their two children, Cochran has seen the separation process from both sides.

“I consider myself an agent of change,” she said. “When people feel like they have done everything and they’re ready to move forward, that’s when I’m ready to help, because if there’s more that could be done in the marriage, I want them to try it. I believe in marriage.”

What kind of people do you represent? My typical clientele are venture capitalists. They’re in private equity, they’re in high tech, in biotech. They are next-gens — generational wealth — and they’re in real estate. Some of them are very private. Some of them are public figures who want to be private.

What kind of clients do you tend to shy away from? Clients who’ve had multiple attorneys. Clients who don’t listen. They want to gather their armies, if you will, or to grandstand or just want to relive the resentment. Clients who don’t want to move on.

How do your high-net-worth clients typically find you? It’s word of mouth. A lot of my referrals come from professional wealth managers. The highest compliment is when I get a referral from the person who was on the other side of my case. For instance, if I represent a husband and the wife refers me to somebody.

How does your firm separate itself from others? It’s important for people to know our deep financial expertise. A lot of people will say, “Do you know venture capital? Do you know private equity?” These people are smart. They’re Harvard MBAs who dropped out to create giant companies. They talk fast and need to know that you can keep up. I need to be able to do that because I tell them what to do. They need to know that you understand what they’ve grown and earned because it’s their life’s work.

What other services do you need to provide in addition to legal opinion? You need a network of experts and other professionals in the family law world. We always work with forensic accountants. There are also mental health professionals, child custody evaluators. There are tax attorneys that we may need to work with. There are SEC security attorneys. There are corporate counsel or wealth managers in the family offices. That’s always very delicate work, to work with generational wealth and work directly with family offices, managing a lot of personalities.

How important is that level of attention to detail? We give the “white glove treatment” to our clients. We set boundaries like, don’t call us at 4 a.m., but they have our cell phone numbers. A lot of times when men get divorced they have executive wives, so they need people to run their households. We get executive assistants for them. We get personal assistants for them. We figure out what they need to help them run their lives because getting divorced and working are two full-time plus jobs. So we really support them in their life as they get divorced.

Have you seen any trends in divorces over the years during good and bad economic times? It’s all over the place. Except for Covid. Covid made or broke marriages.

How important is it to be able to meet clients face-to-face? I like to meet with people in person. I used to always insist on the first meeting being in person, because of body language. Darting eyes, I can usually read. My father was a spy. He taught me to read people. After an hour I can get stuff – characteristics, or things that have happened in the marriage. They’re usually totally caught off guard and surprised.

About Anne Cochran

  • Age: 48
  • Education: University of San Francisco School of Law (Class of ’06); Phillips Exeter Academy
  • Birthplace: Okinawa, Japan
  • Residence: Orinda
  • How she unwinds: Running, lifting weights, spending time with kids (“I like embarrassing them”), finding new restaurants with husband
  • Pet peeves: Unmade bed, people who don’t know how to go through security at the airport
  • First job with a paycheck: Armed Forces Research Institute for Medical Science
  • Guilty pleasure: Marshmallows
  • Hero growing up: Brooke Shields
  • Favorite legal movies: “I am Sam,” “Philadelphia,” “To Kill a Mockingbird”
  • Favorite legal books: “The Defense Never Rests,” “Helter Skelter”
  • The Routine: 5:30 a.m., wake-up coffee first, meditation, home gym for an hour, do a quick run and shower, take kid to school, go to work out of home office until 5-6 p.m., cook dinner, watch a show or take the black labrador and the Frenchie for a walk. Work from 9:30 until 11 p.m. to midnight. Go to bed.

About Cochran Family Law Practice

  • Founded: August 2022
  • HQ: San Francisco, fully remote right now but looking for office space in the future. “I’d love to be in the Embarcaderos downtown.”
  • Number of employees: Six (all women and looking to expand)

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