When one of Matt Podolnick’s clients is feeling overwhelmed with their pending divorce or child custody arrangements, the South Jersey family law attorney tells them to take a deep breath and to rely on him as much as possible.
“I remind them it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” Podolnick says. “And I tell them my shoulders are big enough to handle the stressors for both of us.”
Podolnick works in all aspects of family law at the firm Sherman, Silverstein, Kohl, Rose & Podolsky, serving Southern and Central New Jersey and the greater Philadelphia area. His dedication to his career, compassion for clients and nearly 30 years of litigation experience make him a formidable force in family law, but it is Podolnick’s unique legal background that gives him the edge in guiding clients through both the emotional and financial burdens that often go hand-in-hand with familial legal matters.
A career transition
After earning his bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University School of Management, Podolnick worked for Ford Motor Company in Detroit. He then decided to go to law school, envisioning a future in family law.
This trajectory, however, unexpectedly changed course after graduating from University of Detroit. Just before Podolnick began to clerk for a judge in family law, the judge was transferred to a different court.
“The judge was amazing, so I still stayed,” Podolnick says. “That took me on a different track.”
After the clerkship, Podolnick was practicing business law, knowing he would want to get back to family law one day. That opportunity presented itself a few years after joining Sherman Silverstein, and after making the switch, Podolnick realized how beneficial it was to have a business background in family law.
“Throughout my career I have utilized my business background and skills and apply that to issues which come up in family law,” Podolnick says. “Finances of families, clients who own businesses … I can meld the two, working with people individually along with my business skill set.”
A personal touch
The individual connection with his clients is what drew Podolnick to family law. He recognizes that forging strong relationships with his clients is crucial, especially since family law often brings out supercharged emotions.
“It’s always emotional,” Podolnick says.
Even when a client wants a divorce, it can still be a difficult road. Every family—even a dysfunctional one—has a rhythm that works in some way, according to Podolnick. Taking the first step and filing for divorce can be daunting since it will disrupt that day-to-day rhythm.
But Podolnick helps his clients stay focused and see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“Getting people through a very difficult time in their lives to a place where they’re optimistic about their future,” he says, “is extremely rewarding.”
Focus on children
Any type of family law situation will have emotional ties, but none more so than custody and parenting arrangements.
“Money has emotional aspects, too, but invariably clients will say the most important thing to them is the children,” Podolnick explains.
In guiding clients working through custody issues, Podolnick recommends clients forge an agreement instead of that decision coming from a judge. This means the end result may not look exactly as expected, but it should be what’s best for the child.
“Be willing to have a dialogue with the other side to achieve the best interest of the children. At the end of the day, you’re trying to get to a place where everybody can coexist,” Podolnick says. “I would never let a client make a bad decision when it comes to the children.”
The biggest challenges for Podolnick, he says, are when children are being put in the middle of a dispute, a situation that he sees too often.
“I am tenacious about protecting children,” he says. “I’ll do whatever it takes.”
When this behavior is coming from the other side, this could mean bringing the situation to a court’s attention to ensure actions are modified or eliminated. If it’s Podolnick’s own client, he will address the situation directly.
“I have parted ways with clients when they have been the cause of it and they don’t alter their behavior,” he says.
A trusted ally
When faced with an issue related to family law, the first step is to pick up the phone—or draft an email. Podolnick says this opens the door to a discussion about what issues need to be addressed.
“We identify the issues and come up with goals,” he says, “and then come up with a strategy to meet those goals.”
In addition to the benefits that come along with being a leading family law attorney, Podolnick says his clients also appreciate his availability—which is, in essence, all the time.
“Family law is not 9 to 5. Things happen at nighttime. Things happen on the weekends,” he says. “I make myself available to my clients whenever they need me.”
Sherman, Silverstein, Kohl, Rose & Podolsky, P.A.
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 14, Issue 5.
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