Today we’d like to introduce you to Jonathan E. Fields.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
The first few years of my life were spent in Massachusetts – my folks are from Brookline and Newton. But when I was 5, in 1969, the family moved to Florence, Italy because my father was in the shoe business – the company he worked for manufactured high-end women’s shoes for export to the North American market. We stayed there for seven years; my sister and I went to the American School there but, in the Seventies with no internet and three TV stations, you couldn’t help but be pretty immersed in the Italian culture. You couldn’t just Skype your friends back home. To call my grandparents in Newton, for example, at least in the early Seventies, we had to go to the post office and wait in line for several hours for a brief call. The experience for me was a positive one and has shaped me certainly – not always in ways that can be articulated. But, as an adult, I often find myself looking for movies on Netflix where I can hear the Italian language being spoken just so that I can hear sounds from my childhood.
Eventually, my father’s job took us to New York City in 1976 – another culture shock. I arrived at a Manhattan private school not having lived in America for many years but acclimating eventually to a very different world. Eventually, in 1982, I went to Amherst College and, after graduating in 1986, I had no interest in continuing school. I only knew that I wanted a job that didn’t involve a lot of travelling. I thought I might go into screenwriting or advertising but, I didn’t try very hard to get into those fields, and what can only be described as a failure of imagination caused me to go to law school at Boston University.
After a start in labor and employment law, I eventually found my way to family law. Initially, I was representing clients in litigated divorces; most of my cases involved a lot of court. Later, I discovered divorce mediation and right now my practice is 50% divorce mediation and 50% resolving divorces through negotiation, litigation, or a combination. For me, it’s the perfect balance.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I don’t know if I could call it smooth, or rough, necessarily. The road is the road and I wouldn’t change it, even if I could. I guess the struggle, if there is one, is figuring out what sort of lawyer you want to be. Or, put a different way, how to create a career where you look forward to going to work. I have that balance now, between doing both mediation and litigation, and with all the legal writing and speaking I do. Perhaps most importantly, the balance includes putting together a group of people in a firm who work well together. We have that, and, more than that, while the work we do for our clients can be stressful and challenging, we have a nice, relaxed working environment with people who enjoy working with each other.
Please tell us about Fields and Dennis.
We are an 11-person firm (6 attorneys, 5 support staff). All of us practice family law – a few of us are more litigation-focused, and a few more mediation-focused. My partner Sheryl Dennis also does estate planning and probate litigation. From when I co-founded Fields and Dennis in 2004, the notion had always been to create a firm that could handle anything a family would go through – particularly, divorce, probate, and estate planning. And we wanted to be able to provide to the client the high level of service and experience you would find at an upscale Boston firm. I think that’s what we have created. Put another way, we’re like a Boston firm – with free parking, and closer to your house.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
While there’s something to be said for life being a “journey,” it’s seductive to fantasize about a do-over. I’d get into Mister Peabody’s Wayback machine, travel to 1976 — and invest in Apple. Seriously, though, I’ve obviously learned lots of things that might have been helpful professionally to know a little earlier. Here’s the one that mattered the most. When it comes to the work I do with settling issues among divorcing people, it’s the psychodynamics of the couple that drives settlements more than the legal issues – and a lawyer who doesn’t understand that is missing the big picture – and that is a vital facet of our work to understand.
- Address: Fields and Dennis LLP
80 William Street — Suite 210
Wellesley, MA 02481
- Website: www.fieldsdennis.com
- Phone: 781.489.6776
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ari, Erica, and Jon Fields,
Jon and Erica Fields,
Jon and Ari Fields,
Leanne Leite, Sheryl Dennis, Andrea DeLaney, Vicki Shemin, Dan Dickenson, Wendie Murstein, Carly Liveston, Jon Fields, Rikki Saksik