Q&A SESSION WITH JOLIE WEINBERG, LLC
“I personally don’t know what I’d do without NFRC. As child-focused advocates, they are a huge resource our clients and our practice are lucky to have.”
Jolie Weinberg, LLC of Weinberg & Schwartz Family Law Firm has over twenty years of experience working with the National Family and Resiliency Center (NFRC). Founding President of the Howard County Collaborative Professional group, past President of the Maryland State Women’s Bar Association, member of the Section Council for Alternative Dispute Resolution, and member of the Maryland Judicial Nominating Commission, Jolie has been named a Maryland Super Lawyer and Top Attorney in Maryland by Baltimore Magazine from 2010 – 2015, and named Top 50 Women Lawyers in MD in 2013 – 2015. As a valuable asset to NFRC’s extended family, we sat down with Jolie for a Q & A session regarding her personal experience with our services.
Q: Why is NFRC special to you?
Jolie: Because of what I do – working with families all the time and trying to help people move forward from their divorces and separations – I think NFRC is special because they are unique in our community. They’re a resource that we are lucky to have available to us and our clients. They are very child-family focused. Their mission is to try and work towards resolutions that work for the kids and not just for mom or dad – an objective third party, not someone who’s trying to get a one-up or has an agenda.
Q: When we interviewed one of your clients, she said that you portrayed NFRC as the next necessary step in the divorce process. Do you send all your clients to NFRC?
Jolie: Yes, I would say that my clients who have children always touch NFRC somewhere in the process of divorce or separation – definitely through the parenting seminars. Nine times out of ten, I refer parents to NFRC whether to enroll their children in an NFRC peer group or I recommend that the parents sign up for the family, individual, or group therapy sessions. I often recommend that they consider going for family counseling as well.
Q: So what impact have you personally seen NFRC services have on your clients as individuals?
Jolie: I have a lot of those stories where my client’s feel like without NFRC their kids wouldn’t be healthy, and that they wouldn’t have learned the tools they need to move forward. Just overall, the fact that NFRC helps them think beyond “today” is essential. Usually when clients walk into our office “today,” they’re going through the worst times of their lives. So when NFRC starts getting them to think about the future then it’s not as difficult.
Q: When we spoke to one of your previous clients it came up that one of the most beneficial experiences was when NFRC coaches advocated for and represented each child. How often do families engage in this collaborative environment, and how do you think NFRC’s presence helps the situation?
Jolie: I do a lot of mediation where the children are not part of the process. When I work in collaborative case, the concept is that the children have the support in the room by having a child specialist. Especially when they’re early on in the divorce they learn how to master the process and gain the skills to not get entangled in the fighting. The coaches are there to help redirect the parents and support the children. It’s a great service to keep the kids out of the court process and the adult issues.
Q: So how do you think we can get the word out about NFRC more to other lawyers?
Jolie: I think in Howard County, everyone who deals with domestic lawsuits knows about NFRC. I honestly feel like it’s become a household name. I don’t think there are domestic lawyers out there in the area that don’t know about NFRC. I’m not sure everyone knows the depth and breadth of the services that NFRC provides. It is important to make sure attorneys understand that there are support groups, that work with men, women and children, and that they offer family counseling. I think most people in Howard County know about NFRC, but what you have to realize is that more and more people are self-represented and they don’t have lawyers, so those are the people you’re probably going to have to be reaching out to because they won’t know about NFRC unless they have friends or neighbors that are aware of the services.
Q: What else would you like to say about NFRC?
Jolie: I think one thing I’d say is that I’ve known Risa Garon, Executive Director of NFRC, for maybe twenty years, and – to me – Risa is the role model of what people should be like. She has taught me so much with my work and even about raising my own kids. She might share a strategy with me about a case she’s working on, but I’ll be like “Oh my gosh, that’s such a great idea. I should do that in my own family.”
Risa has always reminded me, “You have to be a role model for your clients. People learn by watching,” and I always think about that – no matter how badly people behave, you have to maintain and impress upon clients that anger will not solve the problem and that clients need to “let go” for their own well-being. Risa just has that “knowing” personality. I’ve been on some pretty ugly cases with her and she’s always done a wonderful job. I just think she’s a pillar in our community and she’s done so much for families.