Roselina D’Annucci: “Be A Good Communicator”

Be A Good Communicator — What I mean by that is the obvious, but I want to make it clear that the client hires you, NOT your staff. Yes, all our retainers say the staff will work on your case, but it is important that you keep a clear channel of communication with your client. They do […]

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Be A Good Communicator — What I mean by that is the obvious, but I want to make it clear that the client hires you, NOT your staff. Yes, all our retainers say the staff will work on your case, but it is important that you keep a clear channel of communication with your client. They do not want to hire you to only speak to your legal assistants or paralegals and never hear from you until they see you in Court. A lot of attorneys forget that we are in a field of customer/client services. We can have the greatest staff in the world, but the client wants to hear from you also. Pick up the phone, send an email. Let them know you are there for them as your promised at the initial consult.

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 Roselina D’Annucci.

Roselina D’Annucci helps clients every step of the way. She works with each client to ensure the process is seamless and successful. She is an attorney who cares — about her clients and her community.

Roselina’s professional and personal philosophy includes a level of open communication that make a meaningful difference to her clients to which she dedicates her practice to.

This lawyer walked a mile or two in her clients’ shoes. It is her prior experience in the real world that gives her an edge over many other lawyers. She first worked as a pizza maker, then a receptionist for a pool company, a paralegal, a Partner in a Law Firm, Co-Owner of a Construction Company and finally an Associate Judge and Sole Practitioner at her Law Firm.

Although the Law has changed since Roselina’s early days making pizzas, her real-world experience gives her a unique perspective and insight into her clients’ problems and enables her to offer a blend of legal experience and business strategy to complement their specific problem.

Roselina’s family means the world to her. She and her husband Michael welcomed their fun and adorable son, Gianluca, on September 5, 2020. You will see millions of pictures of their son all around the office. As a working mom, Roselina understands how difficult it is to maintain your household, family, and work. She encourages clients to bring their children to her office during your visit — she knows how difficult it can be to balance family life.

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”?

Thank you, my pleasure. I grew up in New York — born in Manhattan raised in Rockland County in the Village of Haverstraw. I always knew that I was going to be a lawyer — my family used to always call me “the attorney” growing up because I vigorously defended any of us kids who “misbehaved.” It was an ongoing joke in my family, especially with my mom who had a chant that she would sing “the computer, the phone, the phone, the computer.” My career is basically that chant. I am always on the computer and/or the phone to serve my clients well.

My mother came to New York from Dominican Republic. She was a single mother who raised myself and my two sisters. We had no money as a child to participate in sports or extracurriculars. What I did was spend my childhood in the library. I went every weekend and checked out two books a week that I would swap with my sister. It is funny now to think about it because what child reads four books a week voluntarily? The Kings Daughter Library in Haverstraw will always have a special place in my heart because this is where I grew my love for books and what helped mold and shape my career. You can NOT be a great lawyer without reading extensively. I may not have been the smartest in college or law school, but I certainly knew how to read well and retain information quickly. This is a crucial asset to have, especially when taking a bar exam.

Can you tell us a bit about the nature of your practice and what you focus on?

My practice focuses predominately on personal/business financial issues — particularly bankruptcy, debt collection, foreclosures, real estate.

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?

Honesty — My clients, each and every one of them, can tell you that this is what they love about my firm. I do not tell the client what they want to hear but what they NEED to hear. Many attorneys to “sell” a case will make a client feel like they are in good hands based on exaggerated truths about the law. I believe it is important to remain honest. The potential client may hire someone else who tells them what they want to hear, but at least I can sleep at night knowing that I was always honest.

Trustworthy — Trust is a huge issue in the attorney-client relationship and the most important part of the relationship. Without trust, you can not properly represent a client. Many people come to me with what they would consider, embarrassing parts of their lives. They know when they come into my office, or have a virtual/telephonic meeting with me, they are in a place of trust and honesty. They can tell me anything and I would never judge them, and they truly know it.

Awareness — This is my personal trait that my friends, family, and clients can tell you right away “oh boy, you were right about that person or situation.” I can spot an issue the second I see it. For example, I have had many couples come to me for consults relating to a foreclosure or debt issues. I can spot immediately that there are more problems than that. Usually, right after our initial consult, one spouse will ask for a private meeting. THIS is when I get the entire truth. This trait is my most important one — why? You truly do not have to tell me everything. I will just know. I like to tell my clients; don’t worry I know — if you do not want to talk about it — you do not have to.

Do you think you have had luck in your success? Can you explain what you mean?

I wish! I truly believe that success comes from hard work. Although it can be frustrating to always work so hard, I know that it will be worth it. I intend to teach my son those same lessons. My husband and I work multiple jobs, when at this point, we are lucky enough that we do not have to in our lives. It is something engrained in us.

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 certainly did not go to a top-tier law school. However, the attorneys that do, see a lot of success. Who doesn’t want to have an attorney from Harvard by their side? (If you can afford it).

I think when choosing a lawyer, who cares about what law school they went to. Those are certainly not the questions to ask during a consult. Potential clients should ask about background and what the attorney will do for them. Do they feel comfortable with this person? Do they trust them? What school you went to will not answer those questions.

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?

I wish I could say I would do anything differently, but I can’t. I love the path that I took and during that path, I met the most amazing people in my life. Maybe I would skip a couple of relationships or two.

This is not easy work. What is your primary motivation and drive behind the work that you do?

My motivation has always been my family. Prior to creating my own family, I cared about being a good role model for my sister. Someone she can look up to. Then I realized, I could be a good role model for those in my community that believe that it is impossible for us to achieve success. My goal is to inform the youth, you can do it too, but it takes hard work. Nothing comes easy.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Currently in the legal field we have finally seen such a growth in technology; something that I have wanted since I first started my practice. I am so excited to implement all my new programs and to expedite the client intake process. Virtual meetings with my clients have really changed the way we practice. Now, I can simplify my practice and provide better service to my clients. I am available more also due to technology, where before I would have to sit in Court all day then get back to you when I got back to the office, now I can sign into my Microsoft Teams Court Conference, finish up in 20 minutes, then be available for my clients.

Where do you go from here? Where do you aim to be in the next chapter of your career?

I would say I am pretty happy in this chapter. When New York State shut down due to COVID, I had to make a lot of changes. Some that were challenging. I had to move my law office. I was in the same location since 2012. I decided it was time for a new city and a fresh start like I tell my clients they can have. I moved my practice to Nyack, a wonderful, diverse, upbeat area in Rockland. When I turn the page to the next chapter, I hope to see continued success at my new location. I hope my clients are as happy as I am there.

Without sharing anything confidential, can you please share your most successful “war story”? Can you share the funniest?

This is not a war story but a funny one, to say the least. One day in Federal Court, I had a ton of cases on. I was excited, confident and could not wait to get up there. I was walking around speaking to the clerks and then a lovely attorney slipped me a note “your dress has a rip in the back, do not sit down!” I quickly asked my friend to cover for me and looked in the mirror. If I sat down, let’s just say, I would probably have been banned from Federal Court for all time.

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 shifted my practice to work more remotely but we have a hybrid approach. It really is what my clients prefer. If they want a quick video call, I can do that or if they want to meet in person, sure no problem. Most people at this point, find it easier to just call or video chat. I do not ever recommend texts. I tell my clients all the time, I do not give legal advice in a text. Simple questions, like what time is my hearing, in a text is fine — do not let your clients text you to ask for legal advice. You are just asking for a problem! Texts can be misunderstood in many ways by tone or just autocorrected words.

I see the future of law firms operating in a hybrid form. There is truly no reason for us to go into a physical office space anymore. As attorneys, we have to be flexible and understand that some people will want to meet in-person and others would rather never meet us at all. As long as we find a way to make sure we continue to provide excellent legal service, then it should not matter.

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 biggest change is finally the modernization of Court. Now, we no longer have to waste hours of our and our clients’ time sitting in a courtroom waiting for our cases to be called. We can sign in online on our time slot and now hold a conference online. Especially when it is a quick hearing, this should always be done this way. This could be an issue for attorneys who charge hourly fees and charge for travel to court and the hours they sit there. To me, I never charged for all that time anyway. I would rather get more work done for all my clients than sit around.

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?

There is a saying, “it is not what you know but who you know.” That is still true today. I do have a list of attorneys that I refer people to, however, I always tell people you need to schedule a consult and form your own opinion of them. I could have a great friend in an attorney I know, and they could treat their clients terribly. I would not know that. Regardless, it is still important to network. If it wasn’t for other attorneys, I would never have had the confidence to open my own practice. We also do help each a lot and pick each other’s brains for difficult cases.

Based on your experience, how can attorneys effectively leverage social media to build their practice?

I see it more and more each day. I suffer through third-party embarrassment when I see many of their social media posts. I think a simple, clean post about a new law etc. is the way to go. A video of you on a boat showing how a crash can affect you has to bring in some clients, but for me it is simply not my taste.

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.

Be A Good Communicator — What I mean by that is the obvious, but I want to make it clear that the client hires you, NOT your staff. Yes, all our retainers say the staff will work on your case, but it is important that you keep a clear channel of communication with your client. They do not want to hire you to only speak to your legal assistants or paralegals and never hear from you until they see you in Court. A lot of attorneys forget that we are in a field of customer/client services. We can have the greatest staff in the world, but the client wants to hear from you also. Pick up the phone, send an email. Let them know you are there for them as your promised at the initial consult.

Be A People Person Not People Pleaser — Lawyers who become aggressive and confrontational throughout their careers may win cases and please their clients, but there is a better approach. Who wants to hire a jerk? No one. An attorney who is admired, respected and well-liked by their peers, is a true winner. A couple of years ago, my adversary treated my staff so terribly, that I literally had to ban him from ever calling my office again. I called my phone company and blocked his number. This type of aggression and disrespect is completely unnecessary. He was only allowed to communicate via email to me directly. I had to treat him worse than a telemarketer. Don’t be that person! You will see throughout your career, many people like this person but never stoop to that level. Is it better to be feared or admired?

Have Confidence — Remember that there is a reason why your client hired you and you are where you are in your career. Have confidence to be able to control your emotions and know that you can win. If you are not where you want to be in your career, your level of Confidence in yourself with certainly change that. This is an issue I initially struggled with. I had constant anxiety over whether I could have done a better job for my client or if they were happy with me. I constantly needed reassurance from my peers that I was doing a great job. It took a while for me to jump over this hurdle. Now I know and tell myself, I am a great attorney. This is why I am here instead of did my voice crack when I tried to make that point to the Judge? Remember to be confident, but always stay true to yourself and stay humble.

Be Creative — Law practices and the law in generally will shift throughout your career. Learn to be flexible and open to new ideas about the way you practice. Many attorneys learned this throughout the pandemic because they had no choice but to. Change can be a good thing. Learn to flow with the law.

Advance Your Technology Skills — For new attorneys, this may not be such an issue because of growing up in a generation of cell phones, iPads and so forth, but I can tell you one thing, advance those skills. You do not know everything. In this year alone, I learned how to become my own IT department. Since I had the time, I was able to learn skills you would normally need to go to school for. Take the time, watch the videos, and learn how to do the following:

  1. Work on your own website — when the law changes or you want to update your website, why rely on another company if you can do it yourself? It can be expensive and futile to hire someone else to do this.
  2. Set up and adjust your CRM system — client management is extremely important and involves important data and privacy concerns. Learn the technology behind your program and make sure you protect your client and your own information.
  3. I have many more tips — if anyone wants to contact me as a new lawyer, I am here.

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. 🙂

Warren Buffet — I would love to know so much more about his frugality. I love reading the articles about his McDonalds breakfast. In one breakfast or lunch with him, I am sure he would provide a lifelong wealth of information for my clients.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!

Thank you for having me! For any questions, I can be reached at my office line 845–638–2200, email [email protected] and website

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