Jill Friedman Helfman helps people traverse difficult territory in their personal lives.
“My practice involves helping people navigate from what might arguably be one of the lowest points in their lives to a place that will be their new normal,” said Helfman, co-partner in charge at Taft/. “That new normal often involves a change in their finances, the time they spend with minor children, and a change in their day-to-day routines. I most enjoy teaming up with my clients to find a ‘big picture’ solution that they can realistically embrace, and then feel confident about (and sometimes even look forward to) in the future. By partnering together to find creative solutions they understand and can embrace, clients feel empowered and more confident of their future.”
Her practice focuses on family and divorce law, particularly in high net worth cases. She is certified by the Ohio State Bar Association family law specialty board as a specialist in the field of family law in Ohio and as an arbitrator through the AAML Matrimonial Arbitration Training Institute.
Her experience ranges from analysis and litigation of complex business valuation issues to property division, support and difficult custody matters.
CJN: How are high net worth divorce cases different or more complicated from those where a family’s assets aren’t as broad?
Helfman: For high net worth cases, I liken the divorce lawyer to a transactional lawyer, since the analysis of assets and income is generally more complex than merely addressing equity in a house, retirement account and liquid assets such as in bank accounts. Analysis of the assets in a high net worth case requires a sophisticated analysis, an experienced divorce lawyer and potentially experts such as accountants and business valuation experts on the team. Transactional divorce lawyers are often dealing with valuation of a spouse’s interest in a closely-held business (or businesses), analysis of assets that are not ERISA qualified, complex trust and family gifting issues and assets that have not vested (and may never vest).
CJN: What skills do you think are most important in terms of being successful in your practice?
Helfman: A successful divorce lawyer should be, first and foremost, empathetic and a good listener. These two skills are especially important in understanding the client’s goals. In addition, it is helpful to utilize the services of a divorce lawyer who limits his or her practice to this area of law, so that a client is comfortable knowing that his/her attorney knows the law, the likely outcome, and the court personnel.
CJN: What is your most frequently given piece of legal advice?
Helfman: Don’t focus on minutia; instead, think about the big picture. What are you trying to accomplish and what’s the best way to get there? Think about where you want to be.
CJN: You were named a Cleveland Jewish News 18 Difference Maker in 2015. How does Judaism inform your practice?
Helfman: No matter how difficult a case (or even opposing counsel) may be, be kind.