Barbara Bellin Janovitz knew she wanted to be a lawyer from a young age.
“My father was actually a career development guidance counselor,” she said. “He used to tell us from a very young age what we would be good at. He told me I was very logical and would make a good lawyer. At some point it was sort of in my mind that was something I felt I wanted to do.”
Rather than waiting until college to study law, Janovitz began immersing herself in the field in high school. While in her junior year at Beachwood High School, she began spending the first half of the day at school and the second half working at a local law firm at LaPlace in Beachwood.
Janovitz attended Georgetown University in Washington D.C., in 1976 but transferred two years later to The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia after realizing she wanted to study labor relations. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in 1980, she attended the New York University School of Law, earning her degree in 1983.
Janovitz started her career as a labor lawyer at Hahn Loeser in Cleveland. However, she quickly learned that labor law wasn’t a good fit for her.
“When I got to the practice, I realized practicing labor law involved a lot of sitting in the library and researching and writing briefs and it didn’t really have the people interaction that I was looking for,” she said.
Fortunately, Janovitz was approached by Sidney Nudelman, who at that time was chair of the firm’s estate planning group. He told her he thought she would make a great estate lawyer.
“The part I enjoyed was watching him counseling clients and dealing with the personal side of estate planning, which to me has always been the most interesting and important part, so I sort of fell into doing estate planning law,” Janovitz said.
A few years later, Janovitz moved to Kohrman Jackson and Krantz. After working there for almost 10 years, she joined Reminger in 1991.
The most rewarding part of her career, Janovitz said, is being able to form close personal relationships with her clients.
“The ability to have this multi-generation relationship and really get to know people on a personal basis is really the best part of law,” she said.
In addition to her legal career, Janovitz also was the first woman elected to serve on Beachwood City Council in 15 years. Janovitz said she was motivated to run due to the lack of diversity on council.
“It came to my attention that Beachwood is a much more diverse community than when I grew up there,” she said. “When I grew up, my class was
99 percent white and 99 percent Jewish. In the 40 years since I’ve graduated, Beachwood has really become a very diverse community. It bothered me that there was no diversity in the leadership of the council and it really kind of motivated me to say there’s something wrong with that.”
Janovitz said serving on city council has been a great experience, and she now finds herself encouraging other women and minorities to run for political office.
“It’s so rewarding. I feel like I’m making a difference, which I love to do,” she said.