You have to understand that everything, every time on every case doesn’t have to be a fight. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be ready, but your adversary is not your personal foe. He or she is challenged to handle the same thing you are and it’s up to the both of you on how to resolve the case that is in the best interest of your clients and NOT your ego. Having an exceptional rapport with your adversary is key to driving a successful outcome. This speaks to esteem.
The legal field is known to be extremely competitive. Lawyers are often smart, ambitious, and highly educated. That being said, what does it take to stand out and become a “Top Lawyer” in your specific field of law? In this interview series called “5 Things You Need To Become A Top Lawyer In Your Specific Field of Law”, we are talking to top lawyers who share what it takes to excel and stand out in your industry.
As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Elizabeth Rozin-Golinder.
Award-winning attorney Elizabeth Rozin-Golinder, who is licensed in both New Jersey & New York, has dedicated her career to the exclusive practice of matrimonial and family law. She understands the hardships her clients face when they turn to her for help, and for this reason, has worked with a dynamic set of clients ranging from the indigent to the high profile, and high net-worth.
Elizabeth has received numerous awards and accolades from the legal community, having been recognized on the Rising Star list by New Jersey Super Lawyers for every consecutive year since 2016. She has also received the Top 10 under 40 and Top 10 Best Female Attorney awards for client satisfaction from the American Institute of Family Law Attorneys, and the Top 10 Family Law Attorneys under 40 Award by the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys.
Nowadays, Elizabeth focuses on cases involving divorce, alimony, child custody, equitable distribution, same-sex marriage, grandparent rights, and domestic violence; and has extensive experience in negotiating and drafting comprehensive settlement, separation, along with pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreements. Elizabeth is also proud to sit on the Board of Trustees for the Middlesex County Bar Association, and frequently lectures for CLE classes (continuing legal education).
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit more. What is the “backstory” that brought you to this particular career path in Law? Did you want to be an attorney “when you grew up”?
When I was growing up, I actually wanted to be a singer. As a child, I discovered that I had a good voice, so I used that and music as a creative outlet. My parents immigrated to the States back in the 70’s and naturally (like most first generation kids), they gave me two choices — be a doctor or a Lawyer. When I started school, I didn’t know how to speak English and remember how lost I was. I started taking piano lessons as Music was universal. Law is the same — it’s a very detailed language that has the ability to confuse just about anybody. When I was in my 20’s and landed my first job out of law school — it was then that I discovered my purpose. The legal world can be complex and confusing. Someone who has never dealt with a legal problem could feel just as lost as I did when I was trying to learn English. When I was handed my first case, in that moment I decided my purpose would be to ensure that my clients would never feel as lost as I did go to school without knowing the “language”. My goal was to help translate and apply the letter of the law to the best of my ability, while fighting for the outcomes my clients needed.
Can you tell us a bit about the nature of your practice and what you focus on?
My practice focuses on Divorce and Family Law. We can tackle both ends of the spectrum when navigating a case — be it Litigation or Mediation. Two very different approaches, both with the same end goal. We can handle any type of case dealing with a family or familial type relationships. We take on divorce, custody, alimony, and domestic violence as a few examples (more can be found on our site). We can also litigate a matter through a trial — which we’ve done countless times, or, for our clients who want to be more in control of the end result (vs a Judge making the final call), we mediate. With Mediation, we provide our clients with the ability to settle a case amicably and on their own terms. This works in a number of instances to keep costs down for our clients since not everyone is able to afford to go to trial. Most importantly, we do our best to ensure everyone can have proper and zealous representation — since we also provide consulting services for some that may want to handle their own case but could have a few questions along the way.
You are a successful attorney. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? What unique qualities do you have that others may not? Can you please share a story or example for each?
My top 3:
- Perseverance — Everyone pulls all-nighters in law school. Everyone that passed the bar studied hard. Many prepare night after night before a trial. Not everyone will work as hard as I do to get the result I need or the result I want. “No”, “give up”, “just accept it”, and “it is what it is” are not monikers in my vocabulary. I am relentless in getting it done, in finding a solution and in succeeding. I don’t throw in the towel when it gets hard. When it gets hard is when I want it even more. Mediocrity is not an option. Never giving up when things look impossible or when you think you’re out of time. It’s always about pushing through and breaking down barriers no matter what. Sometimes doing what I do is like running a marathon — getting to that 26th mile is like climbing Mount Everest for some. I do it for my clients and in my life daily. I’ve always told myself “no excuses!” It’s something I aim to teach my kids and I always try to lead by example.
- I have always centered my practice around our clients. It’s not that we offer several practice areas, have amassed accolades, or even that we have a large office. I think many can say the same. For us, truly anything and everything we do is about how to best service our clients and address their challenges. We put that at the center and everything we do is to benefit their case. My approach isn’t to sell my prospective clients on the kitchen sink with a bunch of false promises that we will never be able to deliver. In fact, I turn many clients away because I tell them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. I’m honest, don’t overstate my abilities, and more importantly, don’t overpromise outcomes. The way I start every case is by building a bridge based on trust. Once we do that, I’m able to set proper expectations and ensure we hit our goals vs. stroking anyone’s ego. For example, I have clients who at first have unrealistic expectations and would rather spend money on my services rather than agreeing to something so miniscule that it won’t make a difference in their case — all because they have hatred towards their soon to be ex-spouse. It’s my job to ensure our approach is what benefits the client vs lining my pockets. That’s high on my moral code.
- As an entrepreneur, I can make fast and impactful decisions — but they’ll never be when I’m not ready or worse, frustrated. I’m a very calculated individual and in the business world, you have to be. Planning is the key to success. Everyone makes mistakes, that’s life! However, making them constantly in business is a fatal flaw and one I can’t afford to make. I’ve been in situations where I had to course correct but I didn’t make a move until I was good and ready. I’d always rather wait and make the right call vs. rush out of anger and make the wrong one. I also have to remember my business is nothing without our team members so everything I do takes into account that everyone at my firm relies on this place to produce — so they can afford to live their lives and support their families. I don’t operate a dictatorship — I make sure all of my decisions are well thought out and keep in mind those who make Rozin Golinder Law what it is today.
Do you think you have had luck in your success? Can you explain what you mean?
I know spiritually there’s probably a little bit of luck in everything we do. Let’s just say the universe has a funny way of working things out, but if people only saw the amount of effort, time, attention, and care I put into my practice, they would see that not much (if anything) is left to chance. Being a business owner is not all rainbows and butterflies. It’s not a punch in/punch out job. My practice (and success) lives and dies by how much I put into it. The countless hours of planning, marketing, business development, case management, mentoring younger attorneys, trial prep, being part of industry functions (Bar Trustee), pulling continuous late nights to ensure our clients are getting the very best representation — all while juggling 3 little kids — is not an easy task. So, when people ask If I consider myself lucky- of course I say yes — but then make sure they realize the amount of effort I put in on a daily basis to be able to be this “lucky”.
Do you think where you went to school has any bearing on your success? How important is it for a lawyer to go to a top-tier school?
I think people are shaped and influenced by their surroundings. While having an Ivy League education is a heavy hitter on your resume, it also depends on what you do with that education. I know so many people who scored toward the top on their SATs and LSATs who could be applying themselves to really make a difference yet choose to be doing something completely unrelated to what they went to school for. With my work ethic, I’d like to think it didn’t matter so much where I went to school. Going to school in Boston was a once in a lifetime experience, but it was really my first job out of Law School that set the tone for my professional career. I learned so much about the law, but more so about myself and what kind of person I wanted to be as I progressed in my career. Schooling is one thing, but what made a difference for me was being handed a case with someone’s future on the line that really made me think. For me, the concept of theory vs. application was an important lesson learned.
Based on the lessons you have learned from your experience, if you could go back in time and speak to your twenty-year-old self, what would you say? Would you do anything differently?
Divorce and Family Law is not an easy practice area to master or to handle on a daily basis, and for years on end. It can wear many people out. It is definitely not for the faint of heart. It’s such an emotional area of law and it requires a very specific individual to handle these cases for the entirety of their career. It also requires someone to be well rounded. And it’s not just about the law itself; or about personalization or your emotional intelligence, it’s about all of it. In order to be a well-rounded individual, you need life experiences. If I met my 20-year-old self, I’d tell her to experience as much as you can before you start the grind. Everything you do as an attorney is really a reflection of who you are as a human being. The more well-rounded you are, the better attorney you will be.
This is not easy work. What is your primary motivation and drive behind the work that you do?
My parents. They immigrated to this country with no more than 100 dollars in their pocket back in the 70’s. No language. No family money to fall back on. Nothing, but the American Dream. They managed to learn the language, re-educate themselves, build careers, put me through school and make sure I had a proper start. They’ve instilled an iron work ethic, and a big part of what I do today is to make them proud, as well as to prove to them that all of their sacrifices were not in vain. Now being a mom of 3, I do it to show the next generation that they need to do better than I did. I’m working hard today to lead by example.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
We do have some high profile cases but can’t really dive into much detail there. I think from a practice perspective, we do have big goals to add additional areas of law. I’m a firm believer in building a great team around you — you can only go so far if doing it alone. I think we have an outstanding set of Family Law attorneys — truly top industry talent. Super proud to be working alongside each one. That said, I do have my sights set on how to scale this within other areas to be just as impactful. What I don’t want is to be known as a Swiss Army knife or the jack of all trades- specialize in all, master of none. For me, I’m looking to really master several key areas and be the industry leader over time. Really focus on our craft without spreading ourselves too thin.
Where do you go from here? Where do you aim to be in the next chapter of your career?
I honestly don’t plan on slowing down one bit. We have big goals for the firm, and I’d love to take on new areas of law to grow our ever-evolving services. Looking at my professional career, I do aspire to perhaps have a Talk Show one day, which focuses on Divorce and Family Law. I actually don’t promote anyone getting divorced. Matter of fact, I do believe in the concept of marriage and hope people are able to work out their issues. I never push clients in hiring us — it’s not like we’re bartering for tomatoes in the market. We always make sure clients understand that my firm is here to help and provide the very best representation. With this, I think I’d be able to offer a fresh perspective. To get there, I need to continue growing the firm, take on even more areas of law, and maybe even score a one hit wonder on the radio. I would also like to make a larger impact in the industry, and never lose sight as to why we’re here in the first place — make a difference in our client’s lives.
Without sharing anything confidential, can you please share your most successful “war story”? Can you share the funniest?
I have a story that still gives me the chills…. It’s something I will never forget and a client with whom I still have a relationship with today. I had a client who was married and divorced in a different state. He had two daughters with his ex-wife, and later remarried. One of his daughters from his first marriage came to live with him in his new home. After becoming comfortable in her new surroundings and feeling safe with my client, she confessed that she was being severely abused by her mother and her mother’s family. Abuse so perverse and horrific it would keep me up at night. Abuse so traumatic that I would have to stop reading narratives that were prepared by my client and would have to step away from my desk to breathe. That family needed me to step up and save that young child. The case spanned two years. Not only was I able to move the case from the original state to the state where the father lived, I was able to secure full custody for my client. The mother continued coming back to Court claiming the child was a liar and kept trying to get her back. We fought back tooth and nail and dealt with Judges in two states. We also got lawyers involved in the other state, and even involved medical professionals, that enlisted the help of the police and fought back. The child was kept safe, given the treatment she needed, and I knew she would never have to endure that type of nightmare again. I knew that I helped change that child’s life. Those are the cases that make an impact. When you can change the life of a child, when you can be her voice and make sure she is safe, it makes it all worth it.
Not really many funny families law stories. However, I have had clients fight each other tooth and nail on every aspect of a case, only to reconcile at the final divorce hearing when the Judge is ready to sign their decree. I have also had clients divorce and then remarry. Never say never!
Ok, fantastic. Let’s now shift to discussing some advice for aspiring lawyers. Do you work remotely? Onsite? Or Hybrid? What do you think will be the future of how law offices operate? What do you prefer? Can you please explain what you mean?
I do believe in allowing our team members flexibility when needed but call me old fashion — I prefer we’re all in the office for the majority of time we spend together. First off, I think there’s something to be said about the law of osmosis. We always consult on the cases together, strategize, and plan our approach. This type of work really benefits when we’re all in the same physical space. I don’t run a stuffy law firm — we always aim to have a fresh perspective on things, but the future of work is really in the office for what we do. Some may disagree, especially in today’s day in age. I know many colleagues that have gone full remote and have even forfeited their office space. Maybe I am too much of a people person, but I think we function better together. We even went as far as taking a poll, and every single person wanted to be there — so at that point, it’s not a mandate, it’s part of our culture.
How has the legal world changed since COVID? How do you think it might change in the near future? Can you explain what you mean?
The start of COVID was an uncertain time for sure. COVID also changed the rules and proved me wrong. Nowadays, we offer in-person client meetings, but the vast majority still prefer virtual and to be honest, because of that, we’ve seen an uptick in consults because now people can take a call from anywhere, and at any time. I also think the pandemic is shining a new light on old issues. Custody, stimulus checks, someone gets sick, a child refuses to see a parent, etc. New spin on old challenges is now causing more people to seek our help. I also believe COVID changed our lives and now that we are a little less reactive, we’re able to really channel our efforts to help our clients (speaking as an industry).
We often hear about the importance of networking and getting referrals. Is this still true today? Has the nature of networking changed or has its importance changed? Can you explain what you mean?
Referrals are the best lifeline for any business. It’s not because they’re considered free marketing, but it cemented the idea that we did an amazing job for a client who was comfortable enough to recommend us. You have to understand that Divorce and Family Law is often times a taboo topic. People aren’t proud of it nor flaunt it like their latest iPhone purchase. It’s always been hush hush — so for someone to break out of their comfort zone and recommend our firm to someone in need is both extraordinary and humbling.
With COVID, obviously the nature of how word-of-mouth spreads became more challenging. We’re not meeting with people, there haven’t been many in-person opportunities to network, etc. Events are only opening back up now so we aim to make a presence in a big way. Can’t lose sight that networking and referrals are a major lifeline no business can afford to give up.
Based on your experience, how can attorneys effectively leverage social media to build their practice?
Social media these days is tough. Years ago, we only had Facebook and all of our audiences were on a single platform. Now, with such proliferation, our audiences are all over the place — TikTok and Instagram included. You just have to know where people are and tailor your message accordingly. There’s no guarantee you’ll reach the right person, but attorneys shouldn’t shy away from social media. It’s hard for most business owners to do it all, so if most don’t understand how it works, don’t be afraid of it. Instead, learn to embrace and hire a marketing manager to help you (and also be ready to spend to reach your intended audience).
Excellent. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need to Become A Top Lawyer In Your Specific Field of Law?” Please share a story or an example for each.
To become a top attorney in your field you must know to play chess.
1. While divorce is not a game — knowing the law, it’s application, and studying your adversary are all critical components. Your client’s success doesn’t happen without putting it all together. This one speaks to competency.
2. You are arguably handling one of the most important, emotional, and complex matters in someone’s life — so to become the best in your field, you have to care about the outcome. This one speaks to heart.
3. You have to understand that everything, every time on every case doesn’t have to be a fight. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be ready, but your adversary is not your personal foe. He or she is challenged to handle the same thing you are and it’s up to the both of you on how to resolve the case that is in the best interest of your clients and NOT your ego. Having an exceptional rapport with your adversary is key to driving a successful outcome. This speaks to esteem.
4. You have to realize there is no winning in Divorce. It’s such an emotional process for clients (and attorneys who get divorced 40 times a day) that you have to stop thinking as though it’s a zero sum game. When each case comes to a close, you have to ask yourself: is there anything I could have done better? Could I have received a better outcome for my client? If the answer is ‘no’, then you absolutely did your job, but a great attorney always has a “we could have done more” attitude. The challenge is to reconcile wanting to do more with how it will benefit the client. This one speaks to being sagacious.
5. A successful case is not just one where you’re the party with the most favorable outcome. It’s not just about who got custody, paid more in alimony, or who got the marital residence. These are all things that will subside with time. The absolute best thing you can ever give your clients is peace. It’s an understanding that when this is over, you will stop feeling all the things you’re feeling when you’re going through such a difficult time. Your job as a TOP attorney is to ensure your client has a life after their case is over. This one speaks to solace.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
Celine Dion. Period. This goes back to the very first question — I really wanted (and secretly still want) to be a singer growing up. She was the first CD I ever bought. Matter of fact, I still have it. At night, when everyone goes to sleep and I jump on the treadmill, I end up on a stage in my imagination. I am sure not many people run to power ballads, but it’s kind of my thing. I try to see her every chance I get — I love her. No voice compares. A once in a lifetime (or five lifetimes) talent that brings me to tears the second she steps on stage and hits that first note. Goosebumps just thinking about it. Celine if you are reading this, I will be at your upcoming Vegas show. Breakfast on me 😉
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!