Jackie is an influential New York divorce attorney and mediator, working as a Partner at Wisselman, Harounian & Associates.
With degrees in both law and behavioural forensic psychology, she’s worked in family law for over 25 years.
She’s won numerous awards for her work, and has worked on multiple cases involving issues like domestic violence, substance abuse, high net worth asset disputes, religious complications and much more.
She’s also a successful author, has performed extensive pro bono work for The Safe Center, and lectured regularly at the Hofstra School of Law for over a decade.
In this episode she discusses:
- How domestic violence, economic power imbalances and religion intersects, further fuelling the contemporary divorce epidemic
- Why religion remains a key complication in modern divorces
- How divorce law has changed in recent decades
- Her tips on getting into family law as a career
Rob Hanna (00:00):
Welcome to the Legally Speaking Podcast. I’m your host, Rob Hanna this week. I’m delighted to be joined by Jackie Harounian. Jackie is a partner at the law firm Wisselman Harounian & associates, and a recognized leader in the field of matrimonial and family law. Jackie’s practice focuses on complex divorce, religious divorce, custody, and support matters in the family and Supreme Courts in long island and New York city. Jackie has been selected twice as one of the top 50 women lawyers in New York, chosen for the super lawyers list for seven consecutive years. And in 2020 and 2021 received Martindale Hubbell’s highest rating for ethics and professionalism. If that wasn’t all enough, Jackie has a number of popular research articles and is also the author of The Divorce Reality Check and co-author of the 2020 best seller Networked. So a very warm welcome, Jackie.
Jacqueline Harounian (00:57):
Thank you so much. I really appreciate that. Great introduction, Robert. Thank you.
Rob Hanna (01:01):
It’s an Absolute pleasure to have you on the show. And before we dive into all your amazing achievements and experiences to date, we do have a customary question here on the legally speaking podcast, which is, on the scale of one to 10, 10 being very real, how real would you rate the reality TV series Suits in terms of its reality on a scale of one to 10?
Jacqueline Harounian (01:24):
You know, uh, I think Suits, uh, really presented a glamorized view of law firm life, very high stakes, um, very attractive, beautiful people, really stressed out most of the time. There’s a lots of aspects to it that really were quite realistic, but, uh, not, not when you get down to the law firm life, doesn’t really look like that. Private law firms look a little bit different.
Rob Hanna (01:47):
And so if you had to put a number on it, what would you give it?
Jacqueline Harounian (01:49):
On a scale of one to 10?
Rob Hanna (01:51):
Jacqueline Harounian (01:51):
Honestly I would give it, uh, depending on the day around here and how, uh, what we look like and act like, I would say seven to eight.
Rob Hanna (01:59):
Okay. Okay. That’s pretty, pretty reasonably high score. Okay. So we’ve got a lot to get through today. You’ve achieved so much in doing so much for the global legal community, but let’s start at the beginning. Tell us a bit about your family background and upbringing.
Jacqueline Harounian (02:12):
Yeah, so, uh, I have, uh, like, like almost everyone as sort of a unique story to tell and, and a lot of it probably explains why I’m in a field that I really love and really has such a connection with family law. So, um, my parents were immigrants from Iran from the middle east. They came to New York with their families, uh, in the very late 1950s. One of the reasons they left is that they were religious minorities. They were Jewish and there was an increasing intolerance in the middle east towards Jews like my parents. And they moved to the United States as many immigrants do for a better life, for opportunity for education. And, uh, thankfully worked very hard and allowed my two sisters and I to really get a great education and, they encouraged education and achievement by their three daughters, which in and of itself really, I appreciate that, but they also were quite strict, especially when it came to dating and family life. And so I married very young as my sisters did too. And I married when I was 20, became a very young mom and then decided that staying home with children was not my calling. And I was able to pursue a career in law with a very supportive spouse and a law firm partner that also was supportive. And so, uh, over the past 25 years, I’ve managed to grow my family, grow my career and all, uh, in the realm of family law, which itself has really had enormous changes. Family law looks nothing like it did 25 years ago when I first started the roles of men and women have really changed, but still, uh, you know, a lot of the old rules and traditions and the reasons why people get married, those are all still very relevant today and impact why people get divorced and how they get divorced. So religious divorce is very much a growing practice area for me. And I draw upon my own background, my own, um, feelings about marriage and divorce. I really do think that marriage is important, I’m quite traditional myself. And at the same time, I appreciate the fact that all of those stigmas regarding marriage and divorce are really falling away for the most part. And that’s a very good thing. That’s a great positive thing for most people.
Rob Hanna (04:22):
Yeah, no, and I love that and thanks so much for sharing that. You’re one of the three sisters, I’m one of three boys. So I’m in the middle. Where are you in the, the pecking order?
Jacqueline Harounian (04:30):
I actually have, I’m the oldest of twins. So I have a twin sister. Who’s also an attorney and I have a younger sister. Who’s a physician and a, we only have four children. So we have really, we did everything we could to make our parents happy and meet those parental expectations as best we could. But luckily because my mom works when she came to this country, uh, it was always a very successful entrepreneur. We grew up really seeing that it could be done, not that it was easy, especially for women, uh, to really try to do it all, but we had very good role models and hopefully I’ll do the same for my children.
Rob Hanna (05:05):
Absolutely, and you definitely are. And I guess you touched on it there in your, a bit about your family background. What inspired you to get into family and matrimonial law? You mentioned your sort of background. Is there anything else or any other reasons, particularly why you were drawn because there’s so many practice areas out there that you really wanted to hown in on, family and matrimonial.
Jacqueline Harounian (05:22):
So when my grandfather came to this country, he was a psychiatrist, went to medical school here and psychology and psychiatry has always fascinated me has always been something that I thought was the part of the underpinnings of family law and conflict, and was very fortunate to have the opportunity to pursue and get a graduate degree in psychology, which I use almost every single day in my practice. I use it on my clients, understanding where they’re coming from, what is stressing them, trying to emphasize resolving matters as opposed to escalating matters. And honestly, there’s a lot of psychology when it comes to dealing with opposing counsel or dealing with judges or even myself, when ultimately you have to understand psychology to really be a good actor in the field of family law. There’s a lot of not so great people, um, practicing, uh, and it leads to not so great outcomes. And I always want to do the right thing by my clients and help them understand that co-parenting really requires compromise. Putting aside your differences, really forgiving your partner so that you can give your children the absolute best shot at post-divorce life. And they deserve that. And I think most parents want that for their children. They just don’t know how to get there and they need help and encouragement from the right people at the right time.
Rob Hanna (06:38):
Yes, well said. And you’re very well known for your practice and articles on religious divorce, including your popular article in May, 2019. So tell us more about the significance of the get in Jewish divorces, what it is and how it comes down to in divorce law.
Jacqueline Harounian (06:55):
Yeah. So as I mentioned, I am Jewish and I attract clients that are observant Jews. I live in a community where there are a lot of observant Jewish people from all walks of life, from all over the globe. Um, and the same thing with Muslim clients, they attracted to my practice because I’m from the middle east, I speak their language. I understand that collectivist community mindset when it comes to marriage and divorce, and I’ve always had a certain understanding of the Jewish get because, um, it is a big part of my clients and their concerns when they come to me. So a Jewish get is a religious writ of divorce that, uh, must be obtained for observant Jews in order for them to be truly divorced. So it’s not enough for a Jewish couple to get a civil divorce decree from the New York Supreme Court or anywhere else. They actually need a signed writ from what’s called a beit din or a based in a religious tribunal. And these types of religious tribunals are all over the world. The main one is in Israel, but a religious tribunal will actually divorce the couple and sign off on this religious divorce. The tricky part is it has to be done voluntarily. The husband and wife must appear voluntarily in front of this religious court in order to get the religious divorce. And it doesn’t always work out that way. People are not always motivated to agree on things when they’re going through a divorce, again can be used in an abusive way. It can actually be withheld in an abusive way. Um, but it also has its place in, in negotiating. And so, um, New York has actually very strong laws that protect divorcing couples who are religious. And a lot of it has to do with the fact that New York is a very diverse place where there’s a lot of people from all backgrounds, religious minorities from all over the world. And so the courts have some understanding of religious divorce. That is not the case in other states or in other courts around the world. And, and this really comes down to the importance of attorneys and judges and everyone having cultural sensitivity about people from different backgrounds. Even though myself, I’m not extremely observant. I understand where my clients are coming from. I understand what compels them to make the decisions they make. And like I said before, I want to encourage them to do the right thing, to resolve conflicts within their families, to understand the benefits of letting go of what’s holding them back in life and moving forward to a future that is going to be more positive and happier for themselves and their children to, you know, to refuse, to agree, to a get, to refuse to, um, somehow find peace with people that you used to love. Uh, you know, especially when there are children involved, you know, it hurts yourself as much as it hurts the other side, and people need to understand that. And for most, for most people they do. After a period of time, weeks, and months, they will find the ability to make financial agreements, make custody agreements, agree on, uh, the get and anything else that they need to resolve. It takes time. Everyone deals with divorce in their own way and, and all over the world. Everyone knows that divorce is very traumatic. It’s a loss. It can be like a death for some people and everyone deals with loss and death in their own way.
Rob Hanna (10:18):
Jacqueline Harounian (10:18):
Some people are very resilient and they bounce back and they get back into the dating world and they’re positive and other people need much more time. And I’ve realized that there’s about 10 to 20% of my clients that are not going to bounce back ever, unless they really get professional mental health treatment. Uh, and, and in the get category in the Jewish divorce and, and Muslim divorce and other areas that same thing holds true. There are some people that are going to need extra help. Uh, they might need to appear in front of a judge. Some of it is mental health issues. Some of it is domestic violence, and there’s only so much that can be done out of court with people that want to do the right thing. Sometimes you need to go to a higher authority and, and that’s really a judge.
Rob Hanna (11:02):
Thank you so much for sharing that. That’s really interesting. And I wasn’t aware of the extent that the get can influence divorce proceedings before. So thanks for sharing that. And alongside Jewish divorces, you also do a lot of work involving Islamic divorces and various agreements related to that. So can you tell us more about those in particular?
Jacqueline Harounian (11:21):
Yes. You know, I’ve always found it fascinating that so many of these ancient traditions regarding marriage, whether we’re talking about a Jewish ketubah, which is a marriage contract that Jewish people sign at their wedding ceremony. Um, and it’s based on Halakhah, which is Jewish law. Muslims have a very similar set of customs upon marriage. And people would be shocked to learn that a lot of these customs and traditions and contracts actually favor the woman. So imagine thousands of years ago, uh, when most people could barely read and write in these ancient religions, they actually were contracts that protected women. I’m fascinated by that. I think that’s actually really nice to recognize. And, uh, it just so happens that the Islamic marriage contract, which is called a Maher or a mahar or a mehrieh different pronunciations, depending on which country we’re talking about because, uh, Muslims live all over the world, uh, not just in the middle east, but Pakistan and India and the far east and Malaysia and all of them that are observant Muslims sign, religious marriage contracts. So very similar to a religious wedding ceremony that we would see among Christians or Catholics or Jews. There is a family celebration. There are witnesses that sign off on a document. It’s a very happy event. And, uh, in those marriage contracts, there is a price that is paid to the bride upon her demands. And it can be a few gold coins. It can be hundreds of thousands of dollars I’ve handled matters, uh, that have the smallest amount and the largest amount. And as you can imagine, it really impacts divorce negotiations. And what’s unique in New York law, which is different all over the country. Every state in the U S has a different interpretation of these Islamic marriage contracts. They are important. They shouldn’t be overlooked. I get calls and emails from all over the country from young women, mostly that are Muslim that tell me that their lawyer has no understanding of these Islamic Maher that they’re being told to just disregard it. That it means nothing. And in fact, that’s not the case. Those marriage contracts are leveraged sort of like the reverse of the get. It’s something that the woman can use to try to get a better result. And ultimately they’re also a deterrent to divorce because if you know that you’re going to have to pay your wife so much money, she demands it. Maybe you’re going to work a little bit harder on your marriage. And again, this has always, to me reinforced the commonality of these traditional religions, whether we’re talking about a rabbi or Imam or a pastor, we’re talking about communities that respect the authority of religious leaders and that Imam is maybe going to counsel the couple and say, before you go ahead and get divorced, let’s talk about what that’s going to mean for you as a couple. And maybe you want to go for counseling, or maybe you want to work on your relationship. You know, as I’ve become a little bit more familiar with religious divorce issues, I have done a lot of blogging and writing about it, mostly on LinkedIn, but in other places too. So I’ve handled matters for Jehovah’s witnesses that have their own unique, uh, religious traditions upon divorce Bahais, which are religious minority also in Iran. Um, and I’ve written about that. And it really is really important for people that want to properly counsel their clients in family law, to understand that people are coming to them as clients with their own unique concerns and traditions. And a lot of it has to do with parental expectations. A lot of it has to do with the roles of women in these marriages, what are their rights? And I really do think it’s an honor and a privilege to really have that understanding and try to spread that awareness, which is why I do so much speaking on, on clubhouse and also on podcasts. I really enjoy spreading that message that, um, we should all be a little bit more tolerant of each other. And if we want to do family law and serve international clients, uh, we need to understand where they’re coming from.
Rob Hanna (15:30):
Yeah. And I think you’re doing a great job of educating people and using your voice in the right way to do that. So thanks so much, Jackie, for sharing that. And I understand your practice also includes working with interfaith families where things can get slightly more complicated, especially where children are involved. So can you tell us more about what happens in those particular cases?
Jacqueline Harounian (15:52):
Yeah, no, no, that’s very true. I mean, it’s not just interfaith. Sometimes it’s people of the same religion that during their marriage suddenly go in different directions. So, uh, I’ve seen it happen in both ways, but in an interfaith couple, sometimes you see people getting married and they will have an interfaith ceremony. They’ll have a rabbi and a pastor at a ceremony and, uh, things will be okay for awhile, but then the marriage starts to fall apart. And the person who’s more religious suddenly has issues regarding the level of observance in the home or parents will be okay. You know, once they’re a couple of, uh, one’s children are born, one of the parents will want the child to get a religious education, and that will be a flashpoint or in-laws will intrude and have opinions and criticize. And that can become a flashpoint. So when couples get married and they truly are secular, you know, they can sometimes sidestep these religious divorce issues and religious parenting issues. But when couples don’t sidestep it, when suddenly one of the parties really leans in to their own religious backgrounds or during the marriage decides that they want to become more observant. Suddenly they’re going to church every week or synagogue every week, or they want to keep kosher. Whereas before they weren’t concerned about that, or they become very entrenched in having their children be raised in a certain way, there are all kinds of things that happen in marriage. Some of it has to do with religion. And some of it has to do with people change during a long marriage, their priorities change their own, um, works circumstances, change their interactions with their family and extended family change. And you will are going to be able to grow as a couple and hopefully enrich your life with religion and culture. If you can, the expression I use is walk down the same path, recognizing that you’re not going to be exactly the same, but you’re going to be maybe open-minded to what your spouse or partner wants. And you’re either going to grow together along that path. Or you’re going to reach a crossroads where suddenly your spouses decisions regarding parenting or regarding your lifestyle are either going to be acceptable or they’re going to be intolerable. And I’ve seen it both ways. And it’s very, very important for people that are going to raise children. And I really think it has to be done before you have children. You need to really talk about that. What is it going to mean to you if your child is baptized and you never thought about that before, because you thought that you were marrying someone who was completely secular, what is it going to mean for you? If your child attends the Sheba and you never did, and your spouse never did, but suddenly that’s, what’s being demanded. I want my child to go to a certain school. These are all things that can really, um, break apart a relationship. And I haven’t even gotten to financial reversals and adultery and all kinds of stresses that happen in mid-life for people who love each other, but make mistakes. And, uh, suddenly that can take on a life of its own and lead people to a pastor or to a religious orientation that also starts to take on a life of its own. There are all these things happened during marriage and people should be prepared for it. And ultimately when it comes to parenting, they really need to talk about it when you’re raising a child. What does that really mean? What is it that you really want?
Rob Hanna (19:14):
Yeah, I think clear communication early on, um, and listening is super important. And then you mentioned sort of touched on it there, but unfortunately there is often a correlation between religious divorce and domestic violence. I understand you do a lot of work for domestic violence victims too, as part of your practice. So what does that involve?
Jacqueline Harounian (19:34):
So domestic violence affects people from all backgrounds, all religions, and even very wealthy people. They just can hide it a little bit better. And domestic violence obviously includes physical assault, but it also includes verbal and psychological and financial control. And when you’re dealing with communities and these can be very affluent couples, and it doesn’t always mean religion and divorce, a religion and culture is a factor, but I found that the more traditional the financial structure, so you have a breadwinner who controls all the income and assets, and you have a stay at home spouse, almost always the woman who has very little control over the income and assets. And sometimes you will find a pattern of denigrating that spouse. It really falls along gender roles. Although I’ve seen it in same-sex marriages, too, where one, there becomes a severe power imbalance. And when you have a severe power imbalance, even if it doesn’t include physical assaults, you will see a pattern of behavior that’s coercive and controlling and denigrating, and even to humanizing. And, um, it really is toxic for the relationship, especially when you have children that observing it, that are seeing one party become more and more empowered and the other party becoming broken and damaged in a very real way. And what is the answer to that? The answer to that is, uh, economic equality to some degree, maybe not equality, but at least some level of fairness, you can have one party that is destitute living in a beautiful house while the other party controls everything. Does that go on? It goes on. And that transcends religion. Although I do see it much, much more in a couples where there’s a religious aspect to the relationship, or whether there’s a certain culture, middle Eastern culture or Asian culture or traditional culture. Um, it’s the sort of thing is that when you see it, you can’t avoid noticing how it affects one party to their detriment. So unfortunately it does lead to fighting. It does lead to conflict. It leads to tremendous anxiety and depression. You know, immigrant communities, religious communities have a higher proportion of family businesses, businesses, where the wife is never going to have her name on assets, where everything’s in the name of, of the, of the husband’s parents and brother and LLCs and trusts. And it can really be a dynamic that’s very, very harmful for the wife. This is not to mean that you should go file for divorce. That’s not what I’m suggesting at all. Like I said before, I believe in marriage, but I also believe in women’s empowerment. I believe that women, when the times are good, when the relationship is positive, they should really try to get assets in their own name, or maybe get their own ability to earn money or educate themselves. The worst outcomes I see Robert are religious marriages, traditional marriages, where the wife stays home, raises children signs off on tax returns that are not in her best. Interests has no idea where the money is and the income is. And then upon divorce she’s left with almost nothing because she didn’t participate in the finances of her marriage. She doesn’t know where the assets are and, um, you know, a bad intention spouse, the husband can really hide assets. If he has enough of a headstart and a wife who’s too passive and naive and it leads to really bad outcomes. And so that’s really, if anyone’s listening, cause in that situation, really talk to your spouses, see what you can do to improve it. Uh, there’s life insurance. You can put your name on the house. Um, you can have your own bank account. You should have your own credit. Don’t live in denial. If things are not in a good place, it really is on women themselves to do something about it. Women are not children. The laws of family law are gender neutral and women are really tasked with protecting themselves. It’s not like it was a generation ago for our moms and grandmothers, where women were protected, where they were entitled to, to custody. They were entitled to child support and spousal support. They got their legal fees paid in divorce. You know, they were protected by the judges that, uh, paradigm no longer exists in New York. And in most other places, including the UK, there are laws of joint custody. Fathers have the rights to raise their own children now. And women are in, are expected to support themselves upon divorce. They might get some spousal support for some period of time, but ultimately if they’ve closed their eyes during a 10 or 20 year marriage, while assets were just transferred out of their name or, you know, put in entities that they have no control over, they’re not necessarily going to get relief from a judge.
Rob Hanna (24:24):
Jacqueline Harounian (24:24):
Many judges say, why didn’t you do something? Why did you sign those tax returns? You know, why did you let yourself get so dependent on a spouse that really wasn’t looking out for you? So that’s part of the message. I like to also convey again, not to be disruptive of marriage, but really have women and men have their eyes open talk before you get married talk before you become parents, be empowered yourself so that you have a seat at the table. It’s one of my favorite expressions. If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re probably on the menu and you don’t want to be on the menu. You don’t want someone else to decide what’s going to happen in your life. You have to have a seat at the table in some way.
Rob Hanna (25:06):
I really liked that expression. And thanks so much for shedding extra insights into that. And again, it keeps coming down to the whole point of, you know, making sure that you are communicating and really making sure you’re setting boundaries or having those discussions sooner rather than later, before it leads to anything and alongside your very, very busy practice. You sit on a number of boards and committees, including the center for the women of New York and the Jewish community relations council amongst a number of others. So can you tell us more about the work that you do on these boards and committees and what sort of stuff it entails?
Jacqueline Harounian (25:39):
Sure, sure. There’s a lot of overlap between all the work that I do as a volunteer. My firm has always done a lot of outreach to the community. We’ve always offered free counseling for people that are indigent. We handle a number of matters for indigent clients, especially victims of domestic violence. But the work that I do, um, as a volunteer really is on the themes that we talked about today. Women’s empowerment, rights of minorities, trying to have more cultural understanding of people that are not just your people, but other people from other communities. I really do think that builds bridges and, um, you know, given what’s gone on in our world, in the United States in particular, I’m sure it goes on in the UK, also and all over the world. We just need to be professionals need to help resolve conflicts. And in my view, I’ve always seen that on a very micro level in families and individuals going through divorce, but also what goes on in communities, what goes on between, uh, governments, uh, there’s always a path towards peace if people will really put their efforts behind that. And I’ve always seen it in that way, not to be too naive, obviously there’s a place for diplomacy and as a place for other things, but I always, I will always try to encourage and be that voice of understanding and peace whenever possible.
Rob Hanna (27:01):
Yeah. Lovely message. And have you found getting involved in so many boards and committees has actually improved your practice and would you encourage other lawyers to think about doing the same?
Jacqueline Harounian (27:12):
Absolutely. You know, I think you see it on clubhouse and you see it in a lot of other places. There are always lawyers that want to help despite all of the bad PR against lawyers, especially family lawyers that seem to get a really disproportionate amount of criticism. And some of them really deserve double the criticism, but most of us really are trying to help people. Most lawyers really want to help other people and you will find that most nonprofit organizations and other places lawyers are giving away tremendous amounts of free time. Of course it does help build business because every time I give out advice and help people in need that builds word of mouth in a positive way, for people that will refer business to my firm. And that has always been part of what I do. I do give away a lot of free time. Um, and it’s something that I want to impart on my children. My children also are very active in community work, helping other people, trying to recognize that there’s people that need help. And if you’re in a position to provide help, then you should do that. And so most lawyers that I know really internalize that and help other people.
Rob Hanna (28:15):
Yeah and I encourage others to do that. And echo your message. And you mentioned touched on it lightly there as well as your thriving, legal practice, your volunteer work and so much more you do. We mustn’t forget that you are also a mother of four. So what advice would you give to others about managing a very busy practice alongside motherhood?
Jacqueline Harounian (28:34):
So, um, you know, for me, it really comes down to, I chose a great partner. My husband was a middle Eastern man, never had a problem with my pursuing a career. Never had an issue with the fact that I’m more educated than him or that I have a career that really takes up so much space in our life. I was a young mom. I started young, my children are spaced four years apart. I would recommend that if you want to maintain a career, that you make sure you have good childcare, I will never take the credit. Um, I share the credit with my husband. I also have what I call the wife for 15 years. I had to live in nanny. She’s really the secret, right? I had really good help at home and I’m happy to admit that I could never have done it otherwise. And, uh, I really think, um, if you want to have a career, you’ve got to really work hard at it. It doesn’t happen by accident. It happens with a lot of hard work and real passion for what you do. And now that my children are a little bit older, I tell them, you have to find something you really would get out of bed and do for free. And if, once you found that thing, that’s what you’re going to do and you’ll eventually make money doing it and attract business doing it. It has to be something really drives you without money. You can’t be about the money.
Rob Hanna (29:44):
I think if it’s purely the money you’ll run out of steam eventually. And we recently had on the show a little while back, actually, a chap called Jack Parsons. Who’s the CEO of the youth group, which is helping the next generation. He used the concept of the Douvet flip. You mentioned, what’s going to get you out of bed. And he says, what’s that thing that’s going to flip the douvet every day and get you out of bed and have that passion and that spark and that fire in that belly. And it’s great that you kind of talk of exactly the same thing, um, in your own words. So on that we do a lot of work and we have a lot of listeners, particularly from the aspiring legal community that listened to the podcast as well as current practicing lawyers. So why would you encourage them to consider a career in family and matrimonial law?
Jacqueline Harounian (30:25):
So, you know, family law is not for everyone. There are many lawyers that will swear they will never touch a case. It’s always kept my interest because like I said, it’s based on psychology. There’s a lot of client contact. It’s very messy. You know, I get calls at night and on weekends.I have answered calls on vacation. And honestly, in the dentist chair, I have returned calls. I really take my responsibility to my clients very seriously. You have to be willing to do that. If family dynamics interest you, if resolving disputes is something that you find rewarding, then family law is going to be a really interesting and rewarding career. A lot of what I do is just common sense, problem solving what happens is it’s not that family law is so complicated. It’s not, it’s just that people that are under stress and most family law clients are under stress. They can’t think they don’t know how to pay their bills. They can’t see past their own stress and they need someone that’s going to guide them through and take them towards the finish line. And it really is a lot of common sense parenting advice. And because I do have a family because I know what it takes to raise children and do homework and plan the holiday trips and things like that. You know, I find that I’m very adept in doing that. People need to try family law and see if it works for them. I think estate planning is a very similar practice. Estate planning also has a lot of drama, a lot of inter family dynamics, you know, siblings and, and, you know, multi-generational as opposed to family law, which is usually just parents and their children. But if you really enjoy that face to face, really getting into a client’s problems and solving them as a counselor, then you’re going to enjoy a practice like family law, or maybe criminal law or immigration law. There are practices that are very client intensive. And so you should be looking in those directions. And if anyone has any questions, wants to reach out to me, I engage with a lot of students and young lawyers on LinkedIn, especially. And I’m happy to, um, give any pointers if anyone wants to reach out to me.
Rob Hanna (32:25):
Oh, that’s very kind of you and I’m sure lots of people, well, having heard you today on the podcast, and you mentioned you do a lot of speaking on podcasts, but like me, you are also a big fan of clubhouse. So how have you been using clubhouse to grow your brand and perhaps add value to the legal?
Jacqueline Harounian (32:40):
Yeah, I’ve been on clubhouse for about two months or so, and it absolutely has enhanced my religious divorce and international family law practice. I’ve never engaged with people from different countries in the same way as I have on clubhouse. So I encourage people to take a look and see what’s going on over there. I’ve been engaged in a lot of rooms with people from the middle east that share my background. And I really have found that that’s really interesting for me, even if it doesn’t lead to business, just being part of a conversation. And we find that when I speak with women from all over the world that are really just want to make a better lives for themselves and their families, I really see how much we have in common. We are all humans. We all really want the same things, and there are no shortcuts to that. You know, you have to do the work. You have to be careful in your relationships. You have to treat people well. And, um, another saying, I really like that I use is that your five closest relationships are going to really shape the trajectory of your life. So if the five people closest to you, and for me, that includes, you know, either my coworkers, if I’m at work or at home, my spouse and my children and my in-laws, and those are the people that are really going to determine the happiness portion of my life. And I tell people that also you should focus on those relationships, be kind to people in those relationships, do your best, you know, ask for forgiveness. Tomorrow’s another day. You can always try it again. And if you’re around people that are abusive and toxic and harmful to you, then do what it takes to set boundaries and not necessarily file for divorce, but, but protect yourself, get help. You know, don’t let yourself be hurt by people that are too close to you.
Rob Hanna (34:21):
Yeah, really good advice. And before we look to wrap up, we must talk about your work as an author, including the best seller Network and also The Divorce Reality Checks. So I think what’s really interesting about Network that was also written alongside a few other guests we’ve had on the show, not all were featured, but we’ve had Olga Mack. We’ve had Angie, we’ve had Shay Rowbottom and we’ve had Patricia Backs. They’re all great people. So feel free to give a brief summary about Networks and what it’s all about for our listeners. And then tell us a bit more about the divorce reality check as well.
Jacqueline Harounian (34:56):
Yeah. Um, I’ll start with divorce reality check. I wrote that book in 2016 and it’s sort of, you know, my common sense advice to clients. And I wrote it because the laws in New York were changing so quickly. I had clients that were coming in with completely inflated expectations, especially women, a lot of the things we talked about today. And so I wrote this book as a reality check, really, to keep people out of court. It’s designed as a workbook, very easy to understand. And that was my first foray into being an author and it was really exciting because I’m really a complete nerd and writing a book really for me, was a dream come true, it really was. Networked is really another, I can’t believe how it came into being. And it actually is a bestseller on Amazon, which is unbelievable. The proceeds from the book are going for women and children to the national law center and I’m very excited that we’ve raised so much money for such a deserving cause. It came about because I was invited to a hidden LinkedIn group for women lawyers that call themselves Rock Stars. And then the pandemic started and we became a support group. We became an emotional support group. We have become friends. We volunteered to write a book together and next thing you know, it was written and it was a best seller. And in that book, we talk about how the pandemic affected us and how we all, uh, sort of transitioned in our practices in our families, all the hopes and dreams that we had. And it’s really amazing to see what people can do when they’re tested and when they rise above their challenges and really come together. The book Networked really is a testament to coming together and trying to do something positive. Um, and, and all of the good that that does. And so I’m very fortunate and blessed to be part of that group. And it pays dividends to this day. We wrote the book, uh, almost a year ago, it was published in November and I’m, I’m very, very proud of it. And, and I, you know, for me the message that there is, if you have something, if you have a dream and you can have other people come together and you can do something together, then you should, you shouldn’t say no say yes, and you never know where it will lead you.
Rob Hanna (37:08):
And I would encourage people to, to definitely grab a copy because it’s, it’s a fascinating book and I just love the whole concept and how everyone from LinkedIn came together and supported one another. So if people want to follow or get in touch with anything we’ve discussed today, I’m sure that will be what’s the best platform for them to do that. Feel free to shout out any website or relevant social medias. And we’ll also share them with this episode for you too.
Jacqueline Harounian (37:32):
Thank you so much. My website is lawjaw.com, L a w J a w.com. I offer a free consultation to anyone who asks. We have nine lawyers in our farm, and we’re always here to help and offer advice and not just to clients, but to other professionals. So feel free to reach out. I’m very active on LinkedIn. That’s probably the place where I post the most. And so it’s the easiest to connect with me there. So please look for me there and you can find me in clubhouse. Uh, occasionally joining in on the rooms were regarding relationships regarding lawyers regarding marriage and divorce. There’s a lot of great conversations going on there. So I’d love to connect with anyone there as well.
Rob Hanna (38:12):
Thank you so so much, Jackie, it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the show, wishing you lots of continued success with your legal practice and all of your initiatives and everything you’re involved in, but from all of us on the legally speaking podcast over and out.
Jacqueline Harounian (38:29):
Thank you so much. It’s been an absolute pleasure. You really do a great job and your team. And everyone, thank you so much, Robert. I appreciate it.
Rob Hanna (38:38):
Many. Thanks. We appreciate it from you too. This week’s review comes from Stacy. Stacy says, as someone who wishes, she’d followed a career in law, I love listening to this podcast, living the career vicariously. Thank you so so much for your lovely words, Stacy. It means a lot to us on the show and spurs us on to keep producing top quality content. Thank you so so much.
Rob Hanna (39:03):
Thank You for listening to this episode of the legally speaking podcast. If you enjoyed the show and want to help support us, remember to leave us a rating and review on apple iTunes, you can also support the show and gain exclusive benefits bonus content, and much more by signing up to our Patreon page, which is www.patreon.com/Legallyspeakingpodcast. Thanks for listening.