Q. Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.
Ans: I am a family law attorney with over 30 years of experience in the State of New Jersey. My practice covers divorce, custody, parenting time, alimony, child support, division of property (including business valuations), prenuptial agreements and related issues. I have offices in Cedar Knolls and Matawan, New Jersey.
Q. Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).
Ans: I graduated from Seton Hall University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1983 and from Ohio Northern University, Claude W. Pettit College of Law, with the degree of Juris Doctor, in 1986. I was admitted to the Bar of the State of New Jersey and to the U.S. District Court of the District of New Jersey in 1986. I am the Managing partner of the family law firm of Tonneman, Vuotto, Enis & White, LLC based in Cedar Knolls and Matawan, New Jersey. I am certified by the Supreme Court of the State of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney. I was awarded the 2016 Saul Tischler Award by the Family Law Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association, which is presented for lifetime contributions to the practice of family law in the State of New Jersey and is the most prestigious award to be presented to a family law attorney. Also, I am a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (“AAML”), a past Chair of the Family Law Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association, and current Editor-in-Chief of the New Jersey Family Lawyer. I have been included in Best Lawyers and Super Lawyers lists as well as having been granted an AV Preeminent® Rating for 2016 by Martindale-Hubbell®, which is the highest possible rating in both legal ability and ethical standards reflecting the confidential opinions of members of the bar and judiciary.
Q. What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?
Ans: I was a partner at Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer in Woodbridge, New Jersey for many years when I decided to open my own practice along with two other partners from the firm in January 2009. A fourth partner joined us in 2012 and a fifth in 2015. Our vision was to create a boutique family law firm that balanced professional, aggressive (when needed) and compassionate family law representation with a balance between work and home life.
Q. What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Ans: 1. Do your research and speak to other lawyers who have opened up their own practice.
2. Expect the best, but plan for the worse.
3. Do not over-extend in terms of space, staff or other office features.
Q. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: 1. Patience
Q. How many hours do you work a day on average?
Q. To what do you most attribute your success?
Ans: Working long and hard. Not giving up. Having a positive attitude in the face of adversity. Surrounding myself with good people.
Q. How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Ans: Website. SEO. Google Ad Words. Writing numerous articles. Extensive speaking engagements. Attending networking and marketing meetings with other family law attorneys and other professionals. Hard copy advertising. The most effective markting for me is my relationship with other professionals and my presence on the web due in large part to the many articles that I write.
Q. Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
Ans: Personal savings.
Q. What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
Ans: Work hard. Don’t give up. Keep goals high, but expectations lows. Hope for the best, but plan for the worse.
Q. Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
Ans: Where we are, but expanded in terms of lawyers and staff.
Q. Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Ans: Many of my colleagues on the Executive Committee of the NJSBA Family Law Section, Fellows of the local chapter of the AAML and members of the Matrimonial Lawyers Alliance (“MLA”).
Q. How important have good employees been to your success?
Ans: Good employers are critical to the success of any law firm. They are the ones who implement what the lawyers need to have done.
Q. How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
Ans: As long as it takes.
Q. What motivates you?
Ans: Performing for my clients and providing for my family.
Q. What are your ideals?
Ans: Professionalism, ethics and high competence.
Q. How do you generate new ideas?
Ans: Read cases, articles and commentary on family law in NJ. Continue to write and speak on family law. Continue involvement in the State Bar and other lawyer-groups.
Q. How do you define success?
Ans: Owning a self-sustaining practice that provides a service to the community by way of aggressive, but compassionate representation of its clients and provides a respectable living for the owners and staff.
Q. How do you build a successful customer base?
Ans: See response to marketing question above.
Q. What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Ans: Flexibility in work schedule.
Q. What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Ans: Positive feedback from satisfied clients.
Q. What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Q. What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?
Ans: Our firm provides a laid back and family-type atmosphere. People, for the most part, enjoy the office environment.
Q. In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
Ans: Exciting, nerve-wracking, up and down.