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  • 8 Aug 2023 2:58 PM | Anonymous

    By  Judy Doyle | CPA Withum AAML NJ Gold Sponsor

    Imagine that you are a family law associate set to embark on your first cross-examination of a business valuation expert. It can be a daunting task; you are going face-to-face with an expert. And while you have the Rules of Evidence at your disposal to control the witness, see, e.g., N.J.R.E. 611(c), the expert has years of education, training, and experience. Fear not, this article co-authored by Mat Nunn, Esq., Alyssa Engleberg, Esq., Judy Doyle, CPA (Withum) and Megan Sartor, CPA/ABV/CFF is intended to provide advice to the novice attorney who has not had experience with business valuations.

    The first piece of advice, and this pertains to cross-examination of any expert, is that you may never know the core “science” or area of expertise as well as the expert. But you can know enough to be dangerous—you should know more than enough to be very dangerous.

    Next, business valuations are not rote, black-and-white tasks; some may even say they are “an art.” This is so because there exist areas that require subjective input and, in turn, opinions. Having said that, accountants hired to prepare business valuations are guided by the Statement on Standards for Valuation Services (SSVS 1) issued by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

    You must also know that New Jersey is guided by the “fair value” standard discussed in Brown v. Brown, 348 N.J. Super. 466 (App. Div. 2002). Brown stemmed from a divorce that involved the husband’s minority interest in a family business (a florist) with his mother, who maintained the controlling interest. The trial court utilized, and the Appellate Division approved, a “fair value” approach as opposed to a “fair market value approach.” The fair value approach does not discount the value of the entity due to either: (1) lack of marketability (i.e., there is a small pool of potential buyers for a closely held florist); or (2) lack of control (i.e., a reduction based on the husband’s less than controlling interest in the florist). A reading of Brown will also steer you toward two other (non-family law) cases that will help your understanding or fair value, see Balsamides v. Protameen Chemicals, 160 N.J. 352 (1999), and Lawson Mardon Wheaton v. Smith, 160 N.J. 383 (1999), which collectively stand for the following: “Neither a marketability nor a minority discount should be applied absent extraordinary circumstances.” Brown, 348 N.J. Super. at 483 (emphasis added).

    Against that backdrop, there are generally three approaches to value that are to be considered in each valuation engagement: the asset, income and market approaches.


    This approach essentially replaces the historical cost of certain assets reported in the balance sheets with fair market value for those assets if readily ascertainable either from independent appraisals, stipulation by the parties, or through other estimation means. This approach is often referred to as the “floor value” and is used when the subject company has a significant level of machinery and equipment (heavy construction companies) or are real estate holding entities. This approach can be important in determining a subject company’s value when a company has historically not generated enough income and cash flow to allow for an expected return on assets of a potential investor.


    This approach is closest to “pure valuation theory,” which states that the value of an investment is equal to the present value of all future cash flows. It provides an indication of value by either capitalizing the results historically achieved by the entity (capitalization of earnings/cash flow) or by discounting the projected future earnings (discounted future returns), however defined (e.g., net income, cash flows, etc.). The income approach may be used when there exists a stable history and expectation of positive earnings or where there exists a projection of positive earnings for the year(s) subsequent to the date of valuation that are not indicated by historical results. In doing so, there should be sufficient and reliable historical information available to reasonable estimate expected normalized earnings or detailed and supported projections and forecasts prepared. This is the approach most frequently encountered in New Jersey family law cases.


    This approach provides an indication of value based upon historical transactions of comparable publicly traded or privately held businesses. It is not necessary that the companies be identical, but rather comparable. This approach is useful as it places all indications of value developed from the marketplace into the larger context of market realities. The resultant value is determined through the application of derived valuation multiples to the subject company. There are various transaction databases utilized in practice including BizComps, DealStats, and CapitalIQ. However, there may be insufficient information available in these databases for each individual transaction.

    A link to the full article can be found here.

    Please do not hesitate to reach out to the forensic and valuation team at Withum with any questions relating to this article.

  • 19 Jul 2023 3:08 PM | Anonymous

    By Wilmington Trust | AAML NJ Bronze Sponsor

    While planning for same-sex couples takes center stage during Pride Month, it is so important for same-sex couples to focus on protecting their financial future year-round.

    Read Sharon L. Klein’s article, Five Financial Planning Priorities for Same-Sex Couples ( recently published in HerMoney with her Top 5 Estate Planning Priorities for same-sex couples.

    Contact Sharon L. Klein, Head of Wilmington Trust’s National Divorce Advisory Practice at 212-415-0531 or to discuss ways Wilmington Trust can help your clients successfully navigate complexity and transition.

  • 30 May 2023 2:06 PM | AAML NJ Administrator

    By LEAP Legal Software, AAML NJ Silver Sponsor

    Law firm owners and senior partners are responsible for ensuring that their practices are running at the highest levels of efficiency to maximize profitability. It is no secret that consistent profits and cashflow are what allow law firms to continue to provide their clients with high-quality legal services. In the face of the legal skills shortage, there has never been a better time for New Jersey family law firms to assess their business and optimize their resources. This article covers the four easy changes New Jersey matrimonial attorneys can implement today to optimize for consistent cashflow while mitigating feeling the impacts of the legal skills shortage.

    Focus on Billable Tasks by Leveraging Automation

    According to a recent study, 43% of law firm fee earners reported spending more than 35% of their time working on non-billable tasks. These manual workflows cost law firms thousands of dollars every week in missed revenue. Additionally, it can cause staff members to become frustrated as they have to stay later to provide case updates, complete time sheets, and work with other staff members who were busy throughout the day. As a solution, New Jersey family law firms can implement legal automation software to digitize and streamline the manual tasks that hinder their staff from focusing on billable work during standard business hours. Instead of working longer hours to compensate for lost time, firm staff can complete their work faster, which also helps them take on more cases in the same amount of time to improve the firm’s overall revenue and financial health. Workflow automation that matrimonial attorneys should look for in a software solution includes:

    • Matter creation and management
    • Email and correspondence
    • Document creation and management
    • Time tracking 
    • Billing and invoicing
    Establish Flexible Work Options

    Another major expense for New Jersey law firms is maintaining adequate office space. Rent, utilities, and resources can create high overhead costs that impact how a practice can reinvest the money they earn. A way to avoid overspending on office resources is by establishing hybrid and remote work options. As law firms spend less money each month to accommodate their staff in person, they add more cushion between their revenue and operating expenses.

    Hybrid and remote work options present additional benefits to a law firm. 50% of legal hiring managers report that many legal professionals expect remote work options and actively seek job opportunities that offer the flexibility if their current role doesn’t fit their needs. This shift means that New Jersey family law firms can reduce their current operating costs by providing their staff with flexible work conditions so they can maintain their current people resources and not spend money on recruiting new top legal talent.

    Develop New Revenue Streams

    Another benefit to increasing flexibility around staff location is the opportunity to begin servicing new jurisdictions and areas of law that may not have been possible in the past. For example, a New Jersey family law firm that expands its recruitment efforts can bring in the top attorneys in other counties or even states to increase its reach. They can even begin to service new practice areas and take on more cases if attorneys are licensed and experienced outside of family law. These opportunities create new revenue streams without the added cost of bigger or additional office spaces and commuter benefits.

    Of course, this cannot be achieved without the right legal software to provide all staff members with real-time case information to view and provide updates, collaborate with staff and clients, and time-tracking tools for accurate billing and invoicing. Cloud-based software offers the accessibility and security needed to seamlessly implement these revenue streams without increasing current resources. Improve Transparency with Staff Members Ultimately, the best thing a New Jersey family law firm can do is be transparent with its staff members to establish open dialogues. Senior attorneys and partners in the practice should have regular firm meetings and one-on-one check-ins with junior and support staff to discuss potential changes, develop a career plan, and set individual and group expectations to help mitigate staff uncertainty. By leveraging legal software to automate manual tasks, the firm’s senior members will have more time to dedicate to these check-ins and show their commitment to developing a transparent and supportive culture without asking them to make up this time by working after business hours.


    It is best practice to review law firm operations to identify ways to reduce operational and overhead expenses while improving firm productivity. New Jersey family law firms that implement the right legal cloud software solution to eliminate inefficiencies, reduce spending, improve employee retention, and create new revenue streams to improve cash flow are setting themselves up for even greater success. The LEAP legal practice productivity solution is the only fully-integrated, cloud-based solution that provides New Jersey family law firms with everything they need to run a productive and profitable business from anywhere, at any time. See how LEAP can help optimize your family law firm’s operations today! 

  • 30 May 2023 12:28 PM | AAML NJ Administrator

    By Lynne Strober, Esq.

    A common question that matrimonial attorneys get asked is whether our client can date before the divorce is final. Many times, by the time a client comes to us, they have lacked the physical or emotional connection with their partner for a long time. Sometimes, they have been ready to move on for quite some time. You can date before your divorce is final, but you do so at your own risk. It is best to follow some caveats:

    1. Don’t cohabit, particularly in New Jersey. In New Jersey, cohabitation isn’t just living together. In fact, the law specifically allows a Court to find that a couple is cohabiting even when there isn’t one common household. The reason cohabitation should be avoided is that you may not receive alimony if you are cohabiting.

    2. Be careful how your child or children learn about your dating life. Avoid posting on social media, leaving love notes, cards, or other trinkets around for your children to find. Delay introducing the children until after the divorce is final and only if your relationship is serious. Don’t discuss your dating life or new relationships with or in front of the children. This has caused a problem for more than one litigant in a custody case.

    3. Continue to make sure your children, if you have any, are your top priority. Plan your dates when your children are with your spouse if possible.

    4. You should pay your own way on your dates. While being taken out to dinner should not be an issue, if you and your new partner are traveling or going away for the weekend, you should each pay for yourself so that you cannot be accused of using marital funds for a third party or of being financially supported by a third party if you are seeking alimony from your spouse.

    5. One of factors that a Court will assess to determine whether you are cohabiting and therefore, not going to receive alimony, is whether you and your new partner have a financial intertwinement. Therefore, you should not set up any joint accounts, regardless of whether it is a bank, investment, savings, credit card, or any other accounts.

    6. Social media is both a blessing and a curse. It is a great way to keep in touch, share pictures with friends and family, network with colleagues and let people know about your accomplishments, but it also can be used against you. It is best to take a social media hiatus while you are getting divorced. However, if you do not want to completely shut down your social media, do not post about your dating life or new partner.

    7. It is best not to have your new partner come to the house that you own with your spouse or that your children are living in until you have finalized your divorce. Additionally, a significant relationship can be viewed as cohabitation under certain circumstances, so you want to be careful about how you portray the relationship and what obligations, rights and responsibilities you and your new partner have to each other.

    8. If you aren’t sure how to handle a dating question or situation, ask your attorney. It is not easy to go through a divorce. It is also not always easy to start dating again during or after a divorce, but it can still be fun if you make sure to do it right!

    Are you in need of a divorce attorney? Visit our directory.

  • 24 May 2023 1:57 PM | AAML NJ Administrator

    By Linda Cooke | Withum, AAML NJ Gold Sponsor

    Discovery can be one of the most difficult, costly and time-consuming parts of marital litigation. For the purposes of this article, discovery is defined as gathering relevant financial documents, deposing fact witnesses including the parties, and the production of an expert report. The forensic accountants’ involvement in discovery can be as extensive or de minimis as required by counsel, but here is a look at what that role can include.

    The accountant’s first step in the discovery process should be to obtain an understanding of the case, and the documents that are needed to complete the analyses required to negotiate or try the case. The process begins with an introductory conversation with counsel and an interview with the client. Next, the accountant would prepare an initial document request. Given the tenor of the case, the accountant may need to make an extensive request of all documents that could foreseeably be needed.  However, ideally, the most cost-effective way to initiate discovery is to request basic documentation, such as tax returns, general ledgers, bank statements, and Case Information Statements. More extensive document requests can be presented as the need arises.  

    Under the proposed process, discovery is an iterative process. As the analysis of the basic records continues, the accountant determines what additional documents could be, or should be, available to support their opinion, or what documents or additional information is required to form a clear financial picture. For example, a review of the bank statements may reveal funds transferred to accounts that had not been disclosed, and/or deposits from third parties that require further explanation. Another example would be that the review of tax returns could provide information on assets owned or sold by the parties. 

    Therefore, as additional information is uncovered, the forensic accountant needs to issue follow-up discovery demands or conduct interviews of relevant individuals. If the information is not attainable through one of the parties, third parties may need to be subpoenaed or deposed to obtain the needed information. It is the accountant’s role to help counsel identify what these additional documents and discovery should include. 

    The accountant is to gather the necessary documents to support their work product and to provide the attorney with the information needed to mediate or litigate the matter. In this regard, the discovery process is vital in the outcome and unique in each matter; therefore, it is important that the forensic accountant stay attuned to the cost-benefit of discovery, maintain contact with counsel and the client, and stay apprised of all financial issues in the litigation. 

  • 12 May 2023 10:04 AM | AAML NJ Administrator

    By Christian Sivel | Withum, AAML NJ Gold Sponsor

    Early-stage companies can often be more challenging to value than an established business. This is due to several different variables most namely stage of enterprise development, types of equity issued and methodology used. Below we will outline a number of considerations, what to expect during the valuation of an early-stage company and an overview of the Option Pricing Model (“OPM”) commonly used for early-stage company valuations.

    Stages of Enterprise Development:

    The stage of operational development of an enterprise is an important determinant of the value of the enterprise and an indicator for which approach or approaches for valuing the enterprise are generally more appropriate. The AICPA defines six stages of enterprise development as follows:  

    Stage 1 – Enterprise has no product revenue to date and limited expense history and, typically, an incomplete management team with an idea, plan, and possibly some initial product development. Typically, seed capital or first-round financing is provided during this stage and securities issued are more commonly in the form of preferred stock. The Backsolve Method is the most reliable indicator of value of the enterprise at stage 1, if relevant and reliable transactions have occurred in the enterprise’s equity securities.

    Stage 2 – Enterprise has no product revenue but substantive expense history, because product development is under way and business challenges are thought to be understood. A second or third round of financing typically occurs during this stage. The typical securities issued to those investors are in the form of preferred stock. The Income Approach (e.g., DCF method) will likely be more relevant than in stage 1; however, the enterprise may still have significant difficulty in forecasting cash flows. As such, valuation specialists may choose to use the income approach during stage 2 as a secondary approach.

    Stage 3 – Enterprise has made significant progress in product development; key development milestones have been met (for example, hiring of a management team); and development is near completion (for example, alpha and beta testing), but generally there is no product revenue. The typical securities issued to those investors are in the form of preferred stock. The approaches during stage 3 are most commonly the income approach, using a DCF, or the market approach, using the guideline public company or guideline precedent transaction methods. However, as the profits for the enterprise may still be years in the future, these methods are most often times not exclusively relied upon; as multiple rounds of institutional financing may have occurred during these stages, the Backsolve Method may provide a reliable indication of value.

    Stage 4 – Enterprise has met additional key development milestones (for example, first customer orders or first revenue shipments) and has some product revenue, but it is still operating at a loss. Typically, mezzanine rounds of financing occur during this stage. Also, it is frequently in this stage that discussions would start with investment banks for an initial public offering (IPO). Both the income and market approaches are typically appropriate for stage 4. The reliability of a financial forecast would tend to be higher in stage 4 than in stage 3, because there is more information available on which to base the forecast, and, therefore, the discount rate for a DCF method under the Income Approach would tend to be lower in stage 4 than in stage 3, reflecting the lower degree of risk. Additionally, given the company is now more established, there may be identifiable public companies that can be considered comparable in relation to operations but adjusted for relative size, expected growth, and profitability.

    Stage 5 – Enterprise has product revenue and has recently achieved breakthrough measures of financial success such as operating profitability or breakeven or positive cash flows. A liquidity event of some sort, such as an IPO or a sale of the enterprise, could occur in this stage. The typical securities issued are all common stock, with any outstanding preferred converting to common upon an IPO (and perhaps also upon other liquidity events). Income and market approaches would generally be appropriate as in stage 4, and the discount rate for a DCF method under the Income Approach would tend to be lower in stage 5 than in stage 4. Under a Market Approach, because the enterprise may be closer to a liquidity event in stage 5 than in stage 4, adjustments to the valuation based on comparisons with publicly traded startup enterprises would tend to be lower in stage 5. 

    Stage 6 – Enterprise has an established financial history of profitable operations or generation of positive cash flows. Some enterprises may remain private for a substantial period in this stage.  An IPO could also occur during this stage. Both the income and market approaches would be appropriate for an enterprise in this stage. Because the enterprise has an established financial history, the reliability of forecasted results would tend to be higher than in an earlier stage, and, therefore, the discount rate for a DCF method under the Income Approach would tend to be lower than in an earlier stage.

    Regardless of the stage of development, if a- recent arms-length transaction has occurred, the Backsolve Method may be used to determine the equity value of the Company. The Backsolve Method is an application of the OPM which allows for the allocation of a total equity value where the most reliable total equity value is based on observed subject company equity participating securities transactions. It is based on pricing from the Company’s latest transaction, waterfall allocation schedule and the Black Scholes option pricing formula. The Backsolve Method helps to calculate and validate the Fair Value of the granted options and securities on a post-deal basis. 

    The sum of the indicative values of all the participating securities provides a total value. These amounts are then translated, through contractual terms, to determine the Fair Value. In calculating the indicative value conclusion, the results of the redemption and liquidation scenarios are considered, and Option Pricing Model is used to calculate the Fair Value Conclusion. If the appraiser knows the capital structure to the extent that in the event of a liquidation the proceeds from such liquidation can be mapped to the capital structure, then a reliable total equity value can be estimated if one class of equity participating security has been exchanged in an arm’s-length transaction.  In other words, we know the value of the recently purchased preferred stock.  Knowing the preferences obtained in the transaction by the preferred shareholders and the prior preferred stock rounds, we can then estimate the value of the common stock which does not contain these preferences. This method has limitations, such as the need to estimate certain exit events and assumptions regarding the unchanging nature of dividends or the capital structure over the time period from the valuation date to the estimate exit date.

    Types of Equity Issued:

    As mentioned above, the type of equity issued will be closely tied to the company’s stage of enterprise development. During the earlier stages of enterprise development, preferred equity is most commonly issued to attract investors and account for the inherent risks associated with early-stage companies. As the company continues to develop and stabilize, equity issuance begins to move down the capital structure. The most common types of equity issued from early-stage companies, in order of typical preference, are as follows:

    Convertible Notes: The most common types of debt issued to investors in early-stage companies are convertible notes. These securities are viewed as short-term debt instruments that will likely convert into equity in the issuing company. They are typically repaid in equity as opposed to the traditional interest + principal payments on standard debt. These securities may automatically convert into equity once a specific milestone has been reached, usually when the company is officially valued for later investments. 

    Preferred Stock: Preferred stock is typically issued during enterprise stages 1 through 4. These securities are a class of stock that possess special rights and privileges that make them more attractive in comparison to common stock. They are often more protected from dilution and have the ability to influence company decisions. Additionally, these securities take priority above common stock in the capital structure under a liquidation scenario. These securities are most often those associated with a recent arms-length transaction that are utilized in the Backsolve Method to determine common value.

    Common Stock: Common stock is the most common form of company shares that are issued. These securities are typically issued when the company is in the later stages of enterprise development. These shares can be granted voting rights, which can be limited, and often heave lesser rights than preferred shareholder. Common stock is typically last in the capital stack.

    Stock Options: Stock options are commonly used as a valuable equity compensation incentive for hiring and retaining top talent. When issued, these securities give the employee the right, but not obligation, to purchase company shares at the predetermined price (i.e. the strike price).These securities are often strategically issued to assist in saving compensation expense for the company. 

    The Option Pricing Model:

    The Option Pricing Model is a popular and commonly used model to allocate equity value to securities in complex capital structures. Often times early-stage companies will have complex capital structures with preferred and common stock. Because of this, the analyst needs to complete a two-step process: value the entity’s equity value and allocate the value between the classes of stock considering all rights and preferences of each class. 

    The OPM helps to allocate this value bytreating each class of security as a call option on the total equity value of the company. To accomplish this, the OPM typically employs the Black-Scholes model to value the call options. The OPM method uses five main inputs to allocate equity to various equity-participating securities: FMV of an equity security, annual expected firm dividends, time to next round of financing or sale of the company, overall company volatility indication, and a risk-free rate. 

    • Equity Value: The equity value of the company should be determined to allocate this value among the capitalization table. As referenced above, the Backsolve Method may serve as a method of determining equity value based on a recent arms-length transaction.

    • Annual Dividends: Annual dividend payments are required to consider due to these payments impacting how options for the stock are priced

    • Term: Due to the preferred and common equity being treated as call options, the timing of an exit or next round of financing is important to understand. This term helps calculate the d1 portion of the Black-Scholes model and influences the discount for lack of marketability (“DLOM”)

    • Volatility: Comparable company equity volatility is important to understand in order to determine the d2 portion of the Black-Scholes model

    • Risk-Free Rate: The risk-free rate that corresponds to the Term is most often used as an input to the Black-Scholes model in order to derive the d1 portion of the model

    The exercise prices of each “call option” are set equal to the breakpoints, above which different combinations of equity classes participate in the liquidation equity value of the company. The model consists of a series of closed form option models.

    Each breakpoint’s option model output is then subtracted from the prior breakpoint’s option model output to isolate the amount of value available to the equity participating securities between those two total equity values. That value is then divided pro rata among the relevant equity participating securities. Lastly, for each equity participating security, each of its pro rata allocated values is summed together. Appropriate discount and premiums if applicable are then applied to conclude on a value for that class of equity participating security. 


    Although the process of valuing an early-stage company may seem complicated at first, an understanding of the stage of enterprise development, capital structure, outstanding equity rights and preferences, and relationship with a trusted advisor will make the process simpler. 

  • 2 May 2023 8:23 AM | Alexandra Loukeris

    By Lawrence R. Jones and Joni Jones |

    April is World #Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month. As part of OurFamilyWizard's support and recognition of April as World Autism Awareness Month, the Hon. Lawrence R. Jones (Ret.) and Joni Jones share invaluable #advice and #insights on co-parenting a child with autism.

    Custody, Parenting Time, and Issues Involving Children with Autism
    By: Lawrence R. Jones and Joni Jones
    On March 23, 2023, the U.S. Government’s Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new report with a finding that 1 in every 36 eight-year-old children in the United States is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).[1] This analysis underscores the reality that in family practice, there is a growing number of circumstances where parties who are separating or divorcing may have a child with autism.

    Read the full post here:

  • 25 Apr 2023 2:15 PM | AAML NJ Administrator

    By LEAP Legal Software, AAML NJ Silver Sponsor

    The present economic uncertainty means many businesses are finding ways to tighten their resources to minimize and avoid any negative impacts of potential economic downturn. The legal industry is no different. As many New Jersey family law firms do not have the same resources as large corporations, they need to find new ways to be creative in minimizing spend, reducing overhead, and optimizing the resources they have to protect their business from any economic challenges. While it may seem too early to take action in such uncertainty, New Jersey law firm owners and partners can start taking action to prepare for whatever the future has in store.

    Automate Workflows to Increase Billing

    Manual operations lead to New Jersey family law firms missing out on thousands of dollars in revenue every single week. Alarmingly, a recent study found that 43% of law firm fee earners spend more than 35% of their time working on non-billable tasks. If fee earners continue to focus so much of their time on redundant, manual work, law firms will struggle to maintain profitable and successful operations during economic downturn. Manual workflows that often take up the time of New Jersey matrimonial attorneys include case updates, time tracking, and collaboration.

    Legal automation supported by the right legal software can digitize law firm tasks that take up countless hours and allows them to focus on billable work during standard business hours instead of working longer hours to compensate for this lost time. Additionally, as New Jersey attorneys work faster, they can take on more cases in the same amount of time to create additional revenue that supports the law firm’s overall financial health. Workflow automation to look for in a software solution include:

    • Matter creation and management
    • Email and correspondence
    • Document creation and management
    • Time tracking
    • Billing and invoicing
    Establish Hybrid and Remote Work Options

    Maintaining an adequate office space with all the resources for staff members and enough room for client meetings is a considerable expense for New Jersey law firms. The cost to rent a space, pay utilities, and provide adequate in-office facilities creates high overhead costs that impact where law firms could invest the revenue they earn. Therefore, hybrid and remote work options present an easy way for New Jersey family law firms to combat this.

    When law firms obtain smaller office space, they reduce monthly spending to cushion their operation expenses. Additionally, they can reinvest the money they save into their marketing efforts to establish new business opportunities that ultimately further protect the firm from financial struggles.

    There are additional benefits to implementing hybrid and remote work options. Over the past several years, many New Jersey legal professionals already expect to have remote work options and actively seek job opportunities that offer flexibility. This shift means that New Jersey family law firms can reduce their operating costs and help ensure they maintain their current people resources and improve staff retention.

    Develop New Revenue Streams

    As law firms increase their staff’s flexibility, they also open up new business opportunities in jurisdictions and areas of law they previously could not service. For example, when New Jersey family law firms expand their recruitment efforts, they can bring on the top lawyers across several jurisdictions and practice specialties that instantly create additional revenue streams without worrying about needing a bigger office space and incurring additional expenses for commuter benefits.

    This can only be achieved with the right legal software. All staff members need access to real-time case information to view and provide updates, collaborate internally and externally, and track the time spent on the work they’ve done for accurate billing and invoicing, regardless of if that work got done in an office, at court, or on the go. Cloud-based software provides New Jersey matrimonial attorneys the accessibility and security needed to establish additional revenue streams without increasing their current resources.

    Create a Culture of Transparency

    Ultimately, the best thing New Jersey family law firms can do for their staff members is to have open dialogue and transparency. The prospect of financial uncertainty or any cultural shifts can be daunting for any employee, so senior attorneys and partners in the practice need to provide adequate support for the junior and support staff under them. Regular firm meetings and one-on-one check-ins where staff can discuss concerns, potential changes, develop a career plan, and set individual and group expectations help mitigate staff uncertainty.

    Senior practice members can have more time to dedicate to these check-ins when software automates the manual administrative tasks that previously consumed their days. In addition, as they continue to work with all staff members, it showcases the firm’s commitment to developing a transparent and supportive culture without asking senior attorneys to make up this time by working after business hours.


    While there is still debate over how far off economic slowdown can be, there is never a bad time to review law firm operations and find ways to improve operational and overhead expenses and efficiency. New Jersey family law firms that attempt to make these shifts while maintaining manual processes will find it more difficult than firms that have moved their cloud operations to eliminate inefficiencies, reduce spending, and establish new revenue streams for enhanced cash flow. The LEAP legal practice productivity solution is the only fully-integrated, cloud-based solution that provides New Jersey matrimonial attorneys with everything they need to run a productive and profitable business from anywhere, at any time. Schedule a demo today to see how LEAP can help optimize your firm’s operations.

  • 19 Apr 2023 2:19 PM | AAML NJ Administrator

    By Christine Fitzgerald Esq. | Seiden Family Law

    Family Court, litigation, judges, attorneys, and judgments. These words can be intimidating for someone who has never been through the court system, and even for some who have. As a layperson, you are not expected to know what to expect when going to Family Court in New Jersey. That's why it's important to hire an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the process and take away some of the mystery.

    If you're a litigant, here's what you can expect when going to court:


    New Jersey is facing an unprecedented and catastrophic judicial vacancy crisis. As a result, litigants and attorneys may wait to see the judge long past the original scheduled time, regardless of whether the proceedings are virtual or in person.

    The Speech

    Judges often suggest that litigants consider resolving their matter to save time, money, and stress, and to spare their children lengthy litigation. This usually involves a statement about parents being able to be in the same photo at the child’s graduation, wedding, baby shower, etc.


    Your attorneys may have time to talk settlement while you wait for the Judge. The more issues you settle, the easier it becomes to settle the bigger, tougher issues.

    In Chambers Conference: Judges may conference with the attorneys in chambers. This can be insightful into how the Judge is thinking about your case before you are on the record.

    Being Sworn In

    When the Judge calls your case, you and your attorney will sit at counsel table and be administered the oath. You should expect to be sworn to tell the truth, but most of the questions will be directed at your attorney.


    You may leave court without knowing what the Judge is going to Order or what the decision will be.

    Dirty Laundry

    You may be appearing and having your case heard in front of a room full of people, and whatever issues are being addressed will be for public consumption unless it is a confidential matter.


    Even when your attorney knows the Judge well, there is no way to guarantee what a Judge will decide on any given day. The only way to eliminate the unknown is to settle your case and take ownership of the decisions being made.

    Navigating a family law matter is stressful and confusing at times, but an experienced family law attorney should provide you with the tools necessary to have some expectations of what might happen in your case and options for resolutions.

  • 12 Apr 2023 2:26 PM | AAML NJ Administrator

    By LEAP Legal Software | AAML NJ Silver Sponsor

    New Jersey family law firms face an unprecedented challenge with the current legal skills shortage. 60% of surveyed law firms report already feeling a strain on their operations due to a lack of skilled workers, according to One of the driving factors in this skills shortage is a competitive hiring market that empowers skilled employees to identify the firm that will offer them the most flexibility and the tools they need to be successful. While it may feel daunting for partners and legal hiring managers to find ways to remain competitive in retaining and hiring skilled legal staff, the good news is that the right legal software can help them complete four simple tasks to stay ahead of their competition.

    1. Automate “On-Location” Manual Processes

    Nearly every industry has seen the notion of 50-hour, in-office workweeks due to manual processes become antiquated, and the legal industry is no exception. Legal professionals have requests and responses that come in outside of traditional office hours because their clients are often working at that time. That previously meant that legal secretaries and attorneys had to come in early or stay late in the office to create new matters, schedule meetings, or respond with updates to ensure that clients did not experience delays. However, legal technology can now automate these processes, giving staff members back their personal time without jeopardizing client experience.

    One example of this is new matter creation. Instead of manually setting up a manila or desktop folder, the right legal software offers pre-built matter types for the most common cases a firm handles. This feature means that client and case-related data only needs to be entered once and then can be auto-populated across relevant documents and forms, eliminating the time spent on manually completing documents for each case. All staff members working on the case can then also access the data from anywhere to contact clients, set up meetings, request additional information, and provide updates. In addition, as staff free up time previously spent on manual case management, they can focus more attention on billable client work during the day to get them home on time and establish a healthy work-life balance.

    2. Implement Flexible Work Options

    In 2022, nearly 50% of legal hiring managers reported that a strong candidate would reject a job offer if they didn’t have remote work opportunities. If firms can’t offer their staff members the option of where and when it is convenient for them, they could lose top talent to more modern firms solely because they need the flexibility to manage their professional and personal obligations.

    Legal cloud software can eliminate this challenge altogether. When New Jersey legal professionals can access software to see all the details, updates, documents, and correspondence related to the cases they’re working on from anywhere, they can effectively work from anywhere, at any time, whether in the office, at home, in between school drop-offs, in between doctors appointments, and even from a completely different geographical location! Remote work options also benefit New Jersey family law firms by reducing overhead as they reduce the amount of office space, desks, and utilities required to accommodate their staff in person.

    3. Train and Mentor Junior Attorneys

    New Jersey matrimonial attorneys at the early stages of their careers face a Catch-22. Although technology can automate many of the tedious tasks they previously handled, legal automation tools can also allow them to grow their technical skills and develop career plans that align with their professional goals. Partners at New Jersey family law firms must work with their junior staff to understand how they want to grow and develop a career plan with key milestones to achieve those outcomes. In the past, senior attorneys did not have the time to dedicate to mentoring and training new staff members. However, legal software can eliminate several hours of manual work a week to allow senior attorneys to serve as mentors to junior attorneys.

    For example, as senior lawyers spend more time servicing clients through billable work, they can include junior lawyers through virtual meetings or shadowing so they can begin to develop the business acumen, emotional intelligence, and project management skills needed to advance their careers and move into client-facing roles. Training opportunities allow law firms to support their staff’s career development and demonstrate their investment in retaining their employees by creating an environment enabling them to learn and advance from within.

    4. Expand Recruitment Efforts

    The last way law firms can mitigate employment gaps is by expanding their recruitment efforts beyond their local New Jersey communities. While New Jersey law firms once had the advantage of being in a concentrated hub for top legal talent at all career stages, many legal professionals have already taken advantage of the increased presence of legal software to work remotely. Historically, “main street” law firms could not recruit or retain staff outside their communities, but legal software has now made these possibilities a reality.

    Cloud-based legal software enables partners to reconnect with senior attorneys that retired or moved away to serve as senior team members and provide consulting services by providing them access to case-related information from anywhere, on any device. Additionally, as New Jersey family law firms onboard staff members in different locations, they can generate new revenue by servicing jurisdictions and areas of law that were previously outside of their capabilities.


    The competition for highly skilled legal staff is more intense than ever, and the legal skills shortage will only continue to pose challenges for law firms that cannot offer the flexibility, automation, and advancement opportunities that New Jersey legal professionals need when they consider staying with a practice or joining a more modern law firm. As firm owners and partners consider how they create a modern work environment, it is time they consider implementing cloud-based legal software to automate the mundane, in-person tasks that force staff members to work longer, limit their flexibility, and impact staff retention and hiring.

    Download LEAP's whitepaper, How to Overcome the Skills Shortage, for an in-depth look at identifying these gaps in your New Jersey law firm and mitigating the impacts with the right legal software solution.


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