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Taking Charge

Jeralyn Lawrence, the New President of the New Jersey State Bar Association, Discusses the Importance of Trusting Your Instincts

Jeralyn Lawrence, the new president of the New Jersey State Bar Association and president of the New Jersey Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, practices family law at her eponymous firm, which has offices in Red Bank and Watchung.

A graduate of Seton Hall University School of Law, the Wayne native is on the board of trustees of the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset Health Care Foundation and is a frequent supporter of various events in the community.

She lives in Watchung with her husband, John Benvenuto, owner of a car-transporting business, and her three children—16-year-old Abigail and 11-year-old twins Amelia and Lawson. She also has four stepchildren: Kyle, Carson, Karly and Leah. 

When she’s not in the office or working—which is rare—you might see her out walking along Watchung Lake, spending time with lifelong friends and coaching her children’s sports team or cheering them on.

Q. You worked for a large law firm before setting up your own shop in 2019. When did you know you wanted to become a lawyer?

A: As early as sixth grade, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer and thought I would be a prosecutor. My father is a retired police detective, and I used to discuss law with him. I relied on him a lot in law school. 

Q: What was law school like?

A: Law school was hard. I had a hard time getting in because my LSAT scores weren’t great. But I got in and graduated second in my class because of my work ethic, so my message is that you have to outwork people to succeed.

Q: What prompted you to start your own law firm?

A: Although I held several key positions and was the top biller at the large firm I was working for, I felt overlooked and not taken seriously. I wanted to take charge of my and my team’s security and financial future. My entire team came with me and started Lawrence Law. 

Q: Were you at all apprehensive about going out on your own?

A: It was terrifying because I had been in a big firm my entire career, and they had departments for everything from mail to technology. Now, my team and I had to be all the departments ourselves. 

Q: You also made this transition during the pandemic, which was not a good time to start a new venture.

A: Yes, this was right before the lockdowns. I had invested heavily in technology, so we were able to transition from day one. The good news is that the courts never closed. And we were presented with new issues in family law: The COVID mandates created all kinds of controversies among families, and we were ready and available.

Q: Working for yourself also means even more hours in the office.

A: Yes, I work seven days a week, about 12 hours Monday through Friday and at least three hours each weekend day. And with my bar presidency, I will be working even more hours. But I work around my children’s schedules as they always come first. I love Zoom and to work remotely.

Q: You’ve been quite successful in a relatively short period of time. What’s your secret?

A: In addition to hard work, my core philosophy is that people don’t remember what you said or what you did. They remember how you made them feel. Be a nice person and do the right thing.

Q: What do you like to do on the rare occasions when you do have free time?

A: I love to coach my children’s sports teams and sit on the beach. We have a house in Belmar on the Jersey Shore where all of us—my parents, my four siblings and their families, my children, my other relatives—gather. I watch the kids make sand castles and catch crabs on the jetty. I know a lot of people read on the beach, but if I open anything other than a law book, it’s People magazine.

Learn more about Jeralyn Lawrence at lawlawfirm.com.

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