It is only natural for an employee to feel a tinge of jealousy when a new hire enters the workplace, and there is always potential for conflict to arise. That is especially true when the setting is a highly competitive law firm and the individuals in questionare both intelligent, strong-willed attorneys.
With that in mind, Abigale Stolfe and Sonya Zeigler easily could have been at odds when they first became professional colleagues more than a decade ago. Instead, they laid the groundwork for a successful partnership that continues to thrive to this day.
“We’re both strong, aggressive female attorneys,” Zeigler says. “So going into that situation, it was going to go one of two ways: We were either going to be constant rivals, or we were going to recognize there’s strength in numbers. Obviously, we decided to join forces and the harmonization of our skill sets has resulted in an unstoppable combination.”
“We didn’t know at the time that we were going to eventually start our own boutique family law firm, but everything aligned and we haven’t looked back,” Stolfe adds.
Founding Stolfe Zeigler Family Law Group in 2011, they combined experience and expertise in family law to help their clients navigate through emotionally charged legal situations such as divorce or child custody battles, successfully taking on complex cases involving high net worth individuals.
Ironically, while they are constantly dealing with clients suffering through a turbulent time in their lives, it is the successful “marriage” of Stolfe and Zeigler’s contrasting but complementary styles that is the backbone for the firm.
The two attorneys have professional differences—Zeigler has an extensive knowledge of the financial and tax-related intricacies of divorce which exist in cases involving businesses, medical practices and law firms; Stolfe is a highly sought-after litigator and frequently retained to try high-conflict, complex matters. Stolfe has also developed a niche in handling religious divorce cases. The combination of the two creates a balance that allows them to view every case from all angles. These professional differences shape the firm and complement their relatability to clients.
Together it creates the perfect blend.
“We both bring equal attributes to thefirm, they’re just very different,” Zeigler says. “It’s always been a very successful combination of strengths. We’re very different personalities, we have different backgrounds and interests and we live our livesdifferently. But the combination of those strengths has been very beneficial to us and our clients.”
The team approach continues with the latest addition to the practice: Kimberly (Reiser) Packman, who has more than 20 years of experience in all facets of family law. Packman and Zeigler have a longstanding professional relationship and she has made a seamless transition into a valuable role at the firm.
“Sonya and I have known each other for nearly 17 years,” Packman says. “We worked together as associates in the early stages of our careers. We have similar approaches and philosophies in regards to family law, as well as similar strategies in the way we handle clients. I look forward to contributing my skills and experience to an already successful team of highly qualified female litigators.”
With its main office in Toms River, Stolfe Zeigler Family Law Group serves clients in Ocean, Monmouth, Camden and Burlington counties. Due to great demand in this area, they also recently extended their influence in South Jersey by opening an office in the Strawbridge Professional Center on Route 38in Moorestown.
“I’m thrilled to be able to be local again and to practice here on a regular basis,” she says. “I have always maintained a following and continued to handle cases in the Burlington and Camden county areas but the demand had risen to the level where we needed a second office to accommodate it. We can be more involved in the community and foster new relationships.”
Packman, a resident of Haddonfield, will manage the Moorestown location and continue to focus her attention on negotiating and litigating virtually all aspects of family law matters, including complex alimony and custody matters and matters involving closely held businesses.
She is a matrimonial early settlement panelist in Burlington and Gloucester counties, is a member of the Camden County Bar Association and is a member of the Family Law Executive Committee of the New Jersey State Bar Association.
Yet she also handles cases all over the state and is appreciative of the opportunity to get back to her roots through Stolfe Zeigler Family Law Group.
“I was actually born and raised in Ocean County and I graduated from Central Regional High School in Bayville,” she says. “When I graduated from law school in 1997, I clerked for the Honorable Barbara Ann Villano, and worked for a firm in Ocean County for a year before I moved to Camden County. I’m so excited to join a firm with offices in Toms River and expand my ability to service clients in the county where I grew up and where my family continues to reside.”
In two decades of practicing family law, Packman has seen the significant effect she can have on her clients. It is what drives her to keep imparting her knowledge and experience in a positive way.
“I still enjoy the practice of family law and the ability to have a positive impact on a client during an extremely difficult, emotionally and financially challenging time of their life,” she says. “Divorce isn’t easy or desirable—there are no winners. I strive to protect my clients and guide them through the process by explaining each step and making it more manageable for them.”
That mindset is another reason why Packman has found a home at Stolfe Zeigler Family Law Group, because the founders of the firm feel the same way.
Whether it’s Zeigler’s proficiency in matters involving doctors, lawyers, and business owners or their spouses who are going through a divorce or Stolfe’s state-wide reputation for litigating complex family law matters, the firm has become renowned in the Ocean and Monmouth county areas for its customized approach to cases. Clients can expect that same level of personalized service at the South Jersey location.
“Our motto is, ‘Protecting what matters most,’ and the reason we selected that is because we recognize what is most important to each person is much different,” Zeigler says. “What is most important may be custody of the children, or retaining their business or possibly excluding certain inherited assets from equitable distribution. Taking the time to determine what’s most important to each client at the outset of their case helps us to customize and tailor our approach to best achieve the client’s goal.
“I guess you could have a law firm that is cookie cutter and treats everyone the same way,” she continues. “That’s one way of doing it. But Abby and I have always stressed quality over quantity, and it has worked. The reward is giving our clients what they want, whether that’s their children, freedom or money.”
Stolfe Zeigler Family Law Group
212 Route 38 W. | Building 500
Suite 580 | Moorestown
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Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 15, Issue 9 (December 2018).
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