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Lawyer-Run Business Helps Attorneys and Others Arrange Discreet Affairs

Posted Jan 16, 2009 5:49 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Happily married but unhappy as a lawyer, Noel Biderman eventually found a career niche: helping others cheat on a spouse or romantic partner.

The business plan for his discreet dating site, the Ashley Madison Agency, was sparked when he realized that nearly a third of those using online dating services for singles were attached and seeking an affair, Legal Blog Watch recounts.

His service hence provides a positive benefit by giving those tempted to misrepresent themselves as single on dating sites an above-board alternative for finding sex partners, he argues.

A 1995 graduate of York University's Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, Biderman now, as president and chief operating officer of Ashley Madison, uses his legal credentials as a punchline. "What I like to jokingly tell people critical of my current role is that my mother is finally proud of her son’s career," he recounts in a lengthy Bitter Lawyer question-and-answer session. "After all, I used to be a lawyer."

His also finds his skills at making a case are helpful for business marketing purposes.

In addition to being operated by a lawyer, Ashley Madison is also used by lawyers, the New York Post reports. A Post writer went undercover to meet clients of the agency. (Her online posting at the site reportedly elicited 544 e-mail responses in less than a week.)

Among those who responded was a lawyer who took her to lunch at a swanky steakhouse in Midtown Manhattan, recounts Post reporter Stefanie Cohen:

" 'Look, marriage is like a corporation,' Brad, a 43-year-old attorney, tells me. 'You have a budget, you have employees, and you have a business plan to keep it running smoothly. Sometimes you have to subcontract out the romance.' "

Attorneys and bankers are the largest professional groups among agency clients, Biderman tells Bitter Lawyer. He speculates that lawyers are particularly vulnerable to affairs because of their long, stressful days. If they then come home and feel unappreciated in the limited amount of time they spend with family, they are likely to seek appreciation elsewhere, he says.

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