Very early on in his childhood, New Jersey matrimonial lawyer Jeffrey Weinstein knew what he wanted to do for a living. Born in 1945 in Baltimore, Weinstein’s mother wasn’t so thrilled with her son’s choice of career. “She wanted me to be a rabbi,” he says with a laugh. “But I just liked law. I liked the analysis that one must go through in each and every matter and I liked being able to help people— and that’s really what drove me to matrimonial and family law. You really deal with people who need your help during a low point in their lives.”
Weinstein pauses for a moment to reflect: “There’s an old adage that in criminal law, you see bad people acting their best and in matrimonial law, you see good people at their worst. I think that may be true.”
A Syracuse University graduate who later earned his JD from Seton Hall Law School, Weinstein has been practicing matrimonial law for more than 30 years and has amassed something of a reputation among his peers as a family law expert. It’s the kind of reputation one earns over years of successful litigation.
Weinstein’s career began in 1970 as a law clerk for Judge Edward F. Broderick of New Jersey’s Morris County. Weinstein claims Broderick taught him “more about the law and people” than anyone else he’s ever met, and walked away from that experience not long after to join a small firm. Weinstein recalls finding his true calling in a peculiar fashion.
“I was asked to handle a case, and this was before the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act took effect, and I had to present a case where I wanted to restrain the husband from coming back into the home because he committed a horrible act of domestic violence,” he starts. “I really couldn’t lose the case, but I did the papers OK and I not only impressed the judge but my adversary, who later referred a case to me wherein I got alimony for a man against his wife; it was the first time in New Jersey and probably the first time in the country, and that led to a lot of publicity. That’s how it started.”
There’s an old adage that in criminal law, you see bad people acting their best and in matrimonial law, you see good people at their worst.”
The key to Weinstein’s success, he says, has been his ability to “understanding people’s needs, wants, and desires,” on top of “giving the best you’ve got at all times.” Weinstein says a firm understanding of the emotions involved in these kinds of cases has also served him well, because he appreciates that it takes a certain sensitivity to be able to deal with such matters.
Weinstein claims his heart beats a few paces faster every time he steps inside a courtroom. “The adrenaline starts flowing . . . it’s a high for me, every time,” he says. “You get nervous as well but I’m 65-years-old and I feel fortunate. I love doing what I’m doing. I’m a happy guy.”
Perhaps the most fulfilling aspect of his work these days is working at Weinstein Lindemann Weinstein alongside his son, Evan, who joined the firm after graduating from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in 2000.
“I walk past his office every morning to get to my office and there’s always a smile on my face and definitely in my heart,” Weinstein says with pride in his voice. “It’s such a great feeling and it’s really nice when judges and other lawyers compliment me about what a good lawyer he is.”
While his cases may involve heartbreak, Weinstein’s been married himself 43 years to his college sweetheart Ronnie. The couple has another son, Michael.
So what’s the secret to the success of his marriage? “It’s no secret in my marriage, its love,” he says. “We really love and respect each other. Love and the ability to listen to one another and hear what someone else says . . . that’s also the key to practicing law, especially matrimonial law: being able to listen to what your client wants, what the judge wants, what your adversary says. That’s the key.”