The Suffolk Pro Bono Project is very pleased to honor Joy E. Jorgensen as its Pro Bono Attorney of the Month for her continuing commitment to our matrimonial and family law clients. This is Ms. Jorgensen’s second time to receive this well deserved honor, having first been awarded this recognition in 2003.
Ms. Jorgensen is a graduate of Smith College and Hofstra Law School. Upon graduating from Hofstra in 1984, she began her legal career in Houston, working for a general practice law firm. There, she immediately began doing matrimonial work. This was a new area of practice for the Houston firm. Due to her early success with divorce cases, referrals began pouring in, eventually making matrimonial/family law a major practice area of the firm.
In 1987, Ms. Jorgensen returned to New York and began working at Capetola and Doddato. In 1989, she joined Lynne Adair Kramer’s matrimonial practice. In 1998 Ms. Jorgensen went out on her own, setting up a solo matrimonial/family law practice in Babylon, where she remains today. Given her many years of experience and reputation as a skilled and respected advocate, nearly all of her clients come from referrals. In addition to representing spouses in divorce matters, Joy Jorgensen has served on the Attorneys for the Child panel for 18 years. As to one law guardian client in particular, Ms. Jorgensen’s influence extends well beyond the court case. The client was 12 years old at the time she represented him. The two formed a special connection and they’ve stayed in touch over the years with her role evolving from law guardian to mentor. He interned with Ms. Jorgensen during a summer and was able to see behind the scenes of matrimonial and custody cases. Inspired by the experience and supported by Ms. Jorgensen’s reference letters, the client is now 22 years-old and a first year law student, with plans of becoming a matrimonial attorney. The client’s success is very gratifying to Ms. Jorgensen, who fondly refers to him as “a really great kid!”
Looking back on her career, Ms. Jorgensen has seen many changes in divorce practice since she first started. Ms. Jorgensen believes that the codification of the rules governing child support and maintenance requires that attorneys be especially careful to counsel and advise their clients properly. She also feels that the downturn in the national and local economy has impacted divorce proceedings. With divorce litigants’ financial stress leading to deepened anger and frustration, proceedings have become more complicated and acrimonious. “You have to be more creative now than ever in finding resolutions, and you must be cost-effective in your strategies,” says Ms. Jorgensen.
Ms. Jorgensen has seen another environmental factor impact the practice - - the ever-increasing popularity of social media. She believes that social media has distorted society’s expectations and increased the sense that marriages are disposable. But she also thinks that it has had an even more direct impact on marriages, by offering an easy and accessible outlet for acts of indiscretions to occur. She notes, “From what I see, this type of conduct occurring on social media is playing a more prominent role in the break-up of marriages.”
Ms. Jorgensen has been a forceful and highly successful advocate for the Pro Bono Project’s matrimonial clients, whom she has represented since the early 1990’s. A good example of her valuable contributions is the representation she recently provided to a domestic violence victim. The client had been abused by her husband for several years. Her abusive and financially exploitive spouse, who was represented by a high profile matrimonial law firm, was seeking custody of their two young children, both of whom had been traumatized by the husband’s violence. Quickly after accepting the referral, Ms. Jorgensen obtained Orders of Protection for the client and the children. Her excellent advocacy for this client ultimately resulted in an award of custody to the mother and an order that the husband’s visitation with children be supervised and conditional upon his participating in mandated therapy. The husband was also ordered to buy out the client’s interest in the marital residence (which the husband had placed solely in his name) and turn over a deferred income account to her. This important case was an outstanding example of Ms. Jorgensen’s expertise and dedication to her clients.
In the past 5 years, Ms. Jorgensen has contributed over 200 hours to her Pro Bono Project work. For several years, she also served on the Suffolk County Bar Pro Bono Foundation’s Board of Managers. When asked why she has devoted so much time to pro bono over the years, she explained, “I come from a family of civic-minded people. So doing pro bono comes naturally to me.” She adds, “Being a matrimonial attorney has its own value, because you aid people to move on with their lives. When you’re able to do that for a pro bono client, who otherwise wouldn’t have an attorney, that value is doubled.”
A Long Island native, Joy Jorgensen has a 21 year-old daughter, Jayne Guarino, who is attending Roger Williams University and who plans on taking the LSAT’s this summer.
The Pro Bono Project greatly appreciates all that Joy Jorgensen has contributed over the years to the Project. We look forward to working together with her for many years to come. It is with great pleasure that we honor Ms. Jorgensen as Pro Bono Attorney of the Month.
The Suffolk Pro Bono Project is a joint effort of Nassau Suffolk Law Services, the Suffolk County Bar Association and the Suffolk County Pro Bono Foundation, who, for many years, have joined resources toward the goal of providing free legal assistance to Suffolk County residents who are dealing with economic hardship. Nassau Suffolk Law Services is a non-profit civil legal services agency, providing free legal assistance to Long Islanders, primarily in the areas of benefits advocacy, homelessness prevention (foreclosure and eviction defense), access to health care, and services to special populations such as domestic violence victims, disabled, and adult home resident. The provision of free services is prioritized based on financial need and funding is often inadequate in these areas. Furthermore, there is no funding for the general provision of matrimonial or bankruptcy representation, therefore the demand for pro bono assistance is the greatest in these areas. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Ellen Krakow, Esq. 631 232-2400 x 3323.