LISA GELMAN: GELMAN FAMILY LAW
Knowing that separation and divorce can be the most stressful experience of anyone’s life, Lisa Gelman’s promise to clients has always been to guide them with compassion and understanding, while aggressively
protecting their rights.
Lisa is the owner and founder of the family law firm, Gelman & Associates, which, since opening in 2001, has grown to include ten exceptional lawyers, serving six offices in North York, Downtown Toronto, Mississauga, Scarborough, Aurora and Barrie.
Lisa and her lawyers are both passionate and understanding when representing their clients. Her reputation is one of toughness when needed -- but negotiating and settling, whenever possible. Some of our lawyers are actually certified in Collaborative Law, which is all about emphasizing settlement.
“In a divorce or family law matter, your choice of an experienced divorce lawyer is what will make the difference,” adds Lisa, “not only in the outcome of your case, but in your ability to maintain a comfortable quality of life, and to move forward knowing the best possible resolution was reached.”
She has often been called upon to impart her knowledge and expertise in the media, including on Global TV, Newstalk 1010, CHCH television, as well as a frequent contributor to Her Magazine on family issues.
Lisa’s concern for others extends beyond just at the office. She founded a volunteer legal clinic that her firm ran at NewCircles, a volunteer organization in Toronto, offering new and gently used clothing, employment, and life skills training, and other essential assistance.
My Business Magazine spoke with Lisa about her firm, and what she does best:
MBM: Why would people choose you, over your competitors?
Lisa: We really promote educating people going through divorce, and Everyone needs to know their rights.
People going through a break up are going through one of the hardest, if not the hardest, times in their lives.
We don’t want to make that experience tougher. So what we
focus on is not just good legal counsel, but the experience the second you walk in.
So on our website there’s a lot of free information: articles, a free monthly webinar, and a free e-course you can sign up for.
As well, there is a welcome kit we provide for everyone who comes in for a consult.
It’s a compilation of information pertaining to all issues dealing with divorce and separation.
Furthermore, our team is very eclectic, from different ethnicity, backgrounds, male and female.
Finally, having locations throughout the GTA means we are just a short distance away in all directions, making it easier for clients
to get to.
MBM: How would you sum up your goals?
Our goal is the psychological and financial well-being of our clients to enable them to effectively start the next chapter of their lives.
MBM: What are some typical questions the client might have?
Lisa: If there’s children involved, the first priority is usually the children, and the rights around custody and child support. Then they want to know how to divide up marital property and spousal support.
MBM: What are some of the first things you impart to your client?
Lisa: A lot of the clients have no idea of their rights relating to the above issues. They don’t know what custody means, or have a misconception of what custody means,versus access, spousal support, entitlement, and so on.
They might not be aware that some items are property which need to be divided. For example, if someone has a pension, because they’ve worked for the school board for years, often they’ll have no idea that is something they have to share with their ex.
MBM: Do you talk to clients about the possibility of reconciliation?
Lisa: Of course. We work with a group of professionals - therapists, social workers psychologists,psychiatrists - that will offer a free initial consultation for the people that come through us.
Maybe in the end they won’t break up, or if they do,there are therapists there to support them and their children.
MBM: How did you choose this particular field?
Lisa: There was a maternity leave position that came up. I thought family law was exciting on many levels,including the interaction with people and their lives.
I realized I loved what I was doing, so when it was over, I started working out of my apartment with a fax that worked very slowly, one page at a time. Things grew from there, and 15 years later,here we are.
MBM: What makes a good lawyer great?
Lisa: Someone who’s compassionate, empathetic, intelligent, driven, passionate -- willing to take the extra time to listen to the human story.
MBM: You touched upon the empathy and compassion earlier. So what, in your background, made you more “driven”?
Lisa: I hiked to the hills of Nepal and that stretched my limits. I led a trip through Nepal, and it took a lot of guts to lead twenty single people through the jungle.
It was learning to take on a project that satisfies people; trying to meet a need and realizing that all individuals have different needs.
It was scary going to Nepal in the first place, because I’d never led a trip, let alone when people were not accustomed to the rigors of the trek.
It was the opposite of luxury. It was learning to deal with twenty different personalities, their wants and needs, and to figure out solutions to things I
never imagined would come up.
It meant quick and difficult problem solving. For example, someone thought they were having a heart attack. We had to solve that. Someone thought they weren’t in good enough shape to continue on the trip. We had to solve that too.
MBM: What do you strive to constantly improve?
Lisa: Making sure that we deliver the customer service that we want to deliver.
Lawyers are taught through law school to be good lawyers, and my focus is to combine that with giving a good customer experience.
The small things are important. Like “bedside manner.” You’ll be called back within one business day.
It’s not a suggestion; it’s a must. A letter gets responded to immediately.
From the second you walk into any of the offices, you are treated with the utmost respect, and any intimidation you might feel going in, it’s our job to make you feel at ease.
Dave Gordon has penned more than a thousand articles, and more than five hundred editorials, on every topic imaginable. He writes regularly on domestic and international politics, current events, culture, relationship issues, and much more.
He has spent time in the newsrooms of the Toronto Sun, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Baltimore Sun, National Post and eye Weekly.