The Daryl Story

I grew up in New York City, New York, the oldest of three sisters. I graduated from Clarkstown North High School in 1984 and went to Colgate University in upstate New York. I didn’t know what I wanted to do after college, so I started my own computer graphics company out of my apartment in Westchester County, while also working part-time for my father’s Hardwood Flooring company.

After a year and half, I had a few graphics clients and was doing okay, but wanted some regular work, so I started looking for a job. I ended up landing a job on Wall Street with J.P. Morgan in their Mergers and Acquisitions Department doing graphics and presentation support. I thought I’d like to move up their corporate ladder and decided that I needed another degree to do that. So, in the fall of 1990, I started law school at night at New York Law School.

After a year on Wall Street, I decided that Wall Street, New York City and Corporate America were not for me. I decided that I wanted to be in a place that was not as cut-throat competitive, that was slower and friendlier and warmer. I also decided that I wanted to focus on a more personal type of law than corporate. My parents were divorced when I was 14, and even though it was a very amicable divorce it had a very strong impact on me. I decided that I was much more suited to family law and that was what I focused on in school.

I stayed three more years in NY, deciding where I would move when I finished law school. In June 1992, I was maid-of-honor in a wedding in Tulsa, OK — it was my first time in Tulsa and I really liked it there. The people I met at the wedding told me that if I liked Tulsa, I would love Austin. So, in November of 1992, I visited Austin for four days. I loved it and decided that this is where I would move in the summer of 1993, when I only had one semester of law school left. I did my last semester of law school at UT.

One of my courses at UT Law School was a clinic where I acted as student attorney in Child Protective Services cases. During one of those cases, I met an attorney, KC Anderson, who later became one of my closest friends. At that time I also started looking for a job. In December 1993, I was hired by a prominent family law attorney as his first associate, who told me to study hard for the bar (that I was registered to take in February 1994) and to start work on March 1. Sadly, while I was studying for the bar in January, that attorney passed away and I never got the opportunity to work with him.

I took the bar in both New York and Texas in February 1994 (I took the New York portion in NY on a Tuesday, and flew out Tuesday night to take the Multi-State and Texas portions in Austin on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday). While I was waiting on my results (which wouldn’t be out until May), I started looking for work again. I didn’t know where to go, so I met with a local judge who I had appeared in front of as a student attorney. She surprised me and told me that I should open my own practice. I couldn’t imagine going out on my own straight out of law school, but she encouraged me and told me that from watching me in court, she had confidence in me.

I got my bar results in May 1994 and decided that I had nothing to lose by trying it on my own, so I did it. KC and her husband (who was a prominent criminal attorney) helped me tremendously. They sent me small cases (at the time, I took both criminal and family cases) and they mentored me and advised me every step of the way. I know that I could not have done it without them.

In April 2004, my stepdaughter, Lindsey, came to live with us full-time, making me a full-time mother / step-mother of three children. Benjamin is now in 5th grade, Nathan is in 7th grade, and Lindsey is a high school senior. As the children have grown, I have increased my time back at the office to full-time. Although I am at the office five days a week, I still try to get home most afternoons in time for baseball practice, golf lessons, band concerts, piano and guitar.

In 2011, I have now gone through the unfortunate experience of divorce myself. It has truly opened my eyes and given me a whole new perspective on what my clients are experiencing every day. Although I thought I understood the emotions involved, I now know that I couldn’t truly understand or appreciate the roller coaster of emotions that are involved, nor the long-term healing process for myself, my ex-husband and my children until I had to experience it for myself. It is certainly much more difficult than I had ever imagined.

I have found that each new experience in my life has given me new perspective on my cases. Although I deal in all aspects of family law, the primary focus of my practice is on divorce and/or custody cases. When I first began as a family law attorney, I had the perspective of the child of divorced parents. Then when I married, I was able to add in the perspective of what married life is like — how it takes work and can be difficult at times. It helped me relate a lot more to my clients. At the same time, I became a part-time stepmother, and that gave me a lot of insight into my cases — and helped me come up with creative solutions for my clients.

Then when I became a mom, I suddenly viewed my cases in a whole new light. In fact, the first custody case that I handled after becoming a mom was extremely difficult for me and made me want to quit the practice of family law because it was too emotional for me. I looked into other areas of law, but since I had firmly established my reputation in the community as a family law attorney, those were the cases that came to me. I decided that because of my years as a family law attorney and because of my specific life experiences, I had a lot to offer my clients and decided to stick with it.

Now that I have lived through the emotional roller coaster of divorce myself, I can add that to the list of experiences that I share with many of my clients. With all that I have lived through myself, I can offer realistic advice on what my clients can expect during and after divorce, from the court, from their spouse and from their children. I can also argue my cases in court from a very personal perspective, since I have lived through many of the same experiences as my clients.

First published in the Business and Professional Women Section of The Jewish Outlook, November, 2005 and November 2006

Divorce Resort®, pioneered by family lawyer Daryl Weinman of Weinman & Associates, is a revolutionary approach to a difficult process, available to clients in Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and throughout Texas. For information, contact Texas family law attorney Daryl Weinman at 512-472-4040.