The practice of family law is about more than just the law at Yaffa and Associates; it’s about how the firm can best help individual clients through their unique and often difficult legal, personal and professional issues.
“Every case really is unique and every fact pattern is special, so we get to be involved with wonderful people who are going through extremely challenging times (often in bad circumstances) and help them to a better and happier future. The challenge one day could be issues involving children, the next day it could be the valuation of a family run business, and next time it could be issues related to alimony or a combination of all of them,” says Doreen Yaffa, founder of Yaffa and Associates.
The realization that the firm is no ordinary firm is obvious from the moment a client or potential client enters the office when he or she is greeted by soft music and the fragrance of scented candles. “This is just an introduction to our efforts to assure the client that the divorce process will be made as stress free as possible. Most of the Yaffa and Associates clients have little or no experience with the legal system. Although most realize that divorce is difficult and results in many changes for the individual person and the family, they have legitimate fears about that system and their financial and emotional future.
The firm takes a holistic approach to serving its clients. An attorney is always available whether to explain the legal procedures and why they are necessary or to reassure the client that the process is working properly and that he or she will come out of the process empowered and in a better place. Yaffa makes the effort to know her clients personally and understand where they are emotionally. She attempts to litigate cases based on what her clients can emotionally and realistically handle. Some cases are litigated heavily and at a fast pace and some cases are moved at a slower pace to allow the clients time to adjust to the barrage of changes in their lives.
Because Yaffa and Associates is a boutique firm, the attorneys are able to attend to even the smallest of details for each client – legally and emotionally. The firm works with therapists and other professionals needed to facilitate a new life. The attorneys have a policy of always going the extra mile and taking steps normally not associated with people in the legal profession, such as sending each client a personalized gift on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day or a card on a birthday or some other event in the client’s life.
“A good attorney understands his or her individual clients, where they are in the legal process, their needs at all levels, and the personality of others involved in the case so as to strategize how to obtain the best results possible,” says Yaffa.
Yaffa is one of the very few south Florida attorneys board certified in marital and family law. She has earned a peer-review AV-Preeminent rating from Martindale- Hubbell. She is one of the area’s most experienced divorce attorneys and a member of a number of legal associations. She believes in giving back to the community through a variety of charities, such as St. Jude Children’s Hospital and JAFCO.
The firm’s cases are generally classified as high end, but no matter the value of the estate, each client is given special attention with a focus on detail, she says.
Yaffa says, “They are all significant cases with significant stakes. It’s pretty simplistic in concept, but you really have to take time to sit with the client and make some really educated decisions and that goes back to knowing your client. There are no cookie-cutter approaches that work in all situations and a smart attorney doesn’t approach clients when they walk through the door and immediately start talking highs and lows. You have to know your client and to know when they’re ready to understand where they are in the process, where they’re headed and what the outcomes may be in a courtroom. Only with this knowledge can we obtain the best results possible.”
From Worker to Working Lawyer Yaffa, who worked at various jobs to pay her way through Florida Atlantic University and Nova Southeastern University Law School, has been practicing more than 20 years. She first clerked for several judges in Palm Beach County where she “got to know the power players.” One of those power players was Joel Wiessman, whom she considers one of the best lawyers in the country. She became an associate and then a partner in his firm.
In 2007, Yaffa decided it was time to start building her own firm. Today, the firm’s practice areas include virtually all cases within the scope of family law. Eight employees, including three lawyers, serve a variety of clients.
“I was fortunate because of my years of training and Joel assisted in making the transition easier. He remained an amazing resource for me. My reputation grew and I soon started to build my own client base.”
Yaffa loves litigation and the action within the courtroom. “We’re ready to litigate and I personally love to be in the courtroom. You have to do the right thing by your client and the cost/benefit calculation always has to be there. That’s litigating. When you get there it takes strategy and planning and execution.”
She is also one of those attorneys who enjoys managing a healthy and growing business. “I love the business aspect of managing a firm. I find running my own firm a challenge, but also a pleasure. I’ve enjoyed putting my team together and working with them. While I head up the team, we consider ourselves a family. Our work takes total commitment and focus.”
Yaffa & Associates sponsors and supports empowerment groups, yoga classes, parenting skills seminars, and they work closely with various therapists and other professionals in the area. “It’s really a holistic approach. It’s trying to take the time to understand our clients and what they’re going through and what they may need outside of the law firm and getting them those resources,” Yaffa says.
“We know our clients are possibly going through the worst times of their lives, so they’re not necessarily thinking the way they would normally think. They rely on us to help them and that’s exactly what we do. It’s always great to hear a sincere ‘thank you’ from a client. Thankfully, we get to hear that a lot.”