Once you learn about David Tawil’s background, it’s no surprise why he’s chosen to practice matrimonial and family law, why he does so “the old-fashioned way,” and why he has skills tailored to serve clients who also live in the frum community. As a partner with the law firm of Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook and Cooper, with his primary offices in Westfield, New Jersey, and satellite offices in Red Bank, Summit and New York City, he serves clients in New Jersey and New York. He has dedicated his practice to issues of matrimonial and family law, divorces, domestic violence, prenuptial agreements, post-judgment litigation issues and appellate work for close to 20 years.
Tawil grew up as the oldest of six children in an observant family living in Long Branch. His father, Ralph, ran his own law firm. He practiced family law, along with other specializations including real estate and bankruptcy law, enabling his son to learn from a young age about different areas of law.
When he chose to attend law school, Tawil selected the Benjamin N. Cardozo Law School, part of Yeshiva University, and experienced different fields of law. After graduating in 2002, he served as a law clerk for the Honorable Thomas Zampino, family court judge in Essex County, New Jersey. During his tenure, Tawil saw the time and attention the judge devoted to cases assigned to the court, and the deep impact that had on the people involved. He realized that family law “can make a real difference for people,” and he decided that this would be the focus of his life’s work.
When he was 31 and already practicing law for several years, Tawil watched as his own parents divorced. He observed the differences that were attendant to divorces in the Orthodox community, particularly when there is a dichotomy between spouses, and particularly in instances where observant parents are thrust into the secular judicial process.
He saw that a divorce can be “a longer road than is necessary,” and that a lawyer practicing family law, though well-intentioned, can lack essential knowledge of the intricacies and priorities of observant Jewish life. Tawil came out of the experience with a renewed commitment to serving clients in the Orthodox world, clients who often need specialized attention due to the challenges and issues that are unique to the “frum community.”
“In family law and matrimonial cases, I am often dealing with very good people who are being faced with challenges that they either never considered, or which have blindsided them,” Tawil said. “My goal is to help each client—and most importantly, their children—work their way through what is often seen as one of the most difficult times in their lives.
“This became all the more important to me after I became a ‘child of divorce’ myself,” Tawil continued, “albeit after already being a practicing attorney with kids of my own. In the more than dozen years that have followed, I have focused my career on helping families, especially those in the Orthodox communities, deal with their marital difficulties and the problems attendant to their divorce; and to allow both parents and their children move on with their concurrent, and parallel, lives with as much peace and dignity as can be achieved given the circumstances.”
Tawil embraces the philosophy that “every client deserves your best effort, all the time.” That’s why he will routinely take calls from clients at night and on weekends, since emergencies do not occur 9 to 6 on Monday through Friday. He believes that “your word is your bond and you should never make a promise you can’t keep” when representing clients. His overarching motivation is to “always act so you can be respected in the community.” Those values prompted an older colleague, Barry Baime, Esq., to tell Tawil: “You do it ‘old school.’ And that serves you, and the firm, very well.”
At the same time, Tawil once learned the hard way that just following his trusting nature can sometimes be a liability in effectively advocating for your client. He recalled an episode early in his career, when an opposing counsel intentionally misled him, leading him to believe a client was ready to settle based on specific terms. Tawil learned late in the process that the opposing client had no intention of actually settling, but rather was gearing up for trial.
This led to many hours of intense trial preparation (only for the case to ultimately settle in the end, but on different terms); encouraging Tawil to follow the credo of President Ronald Reagan, “Trust but verify,” and to base his trust on colleagues, peers and verifiable reasons.
As his career has unfolded, Tawil has served thousands of clients and appeared in courts in all 21 counties in New Jersey and in different parts of New York. He has successfully resolved cases with marital estates in a variety of sizes, from $50 million to middle-class family situations, including some with complicated family and custody situations. Several cases have involved parents and children alienated from one another, which, he points out, “is sadly all too common in the frum community.”
Tawil has established a well-earned reputation as a lawyer with expertise in advocating effectively for Orthodox and frum clients, as well as members of the Jewish community as a whole. He has represented dozens of frum clients, increasing in recent years as the stigma of divorce decreases. Having represented Orthodox families throughout Bergen, Essex, Union, Middlesex and Monmouth Counties, he also serves as an adviser to batei din in Brooklyn, Deal and Lakewood, ensuring that the religious courts can provide effective services to spouses undergoing divorce, with decisions reached that comport with the civil laws and statutes.
It’s clear from client testimonials that Tawil’s work is well regarded and quite effective:
“My divorce process was complicated, lengthy and often disheartening, yet through it all I knew I could count on David to put my long-term interests first,” said D.G. from Springfield (name withheld to protect the client’s privacy).
“He is an exceptional attorney—a strong litigator with impressive, current knowledge of the law, and excellent writing skills,” D.G. continued. “He is responsive, attentive to even the smallest detail, and relentless on behalf of his clients. Equally important, he is a man of integrity, with strong family values. David understands how difficult divorce can be. He knows when to be sensitive, when to stand firm—and how to achieve the best possible results. I could not have picked a better attorney to handle my divorce.”
“David truly knows how to prioritize his client’s needs, assuage their fears and guide them every step of the way to attain all their goals,” said J.E. from Clifton (name withheld). “David is beyond responsive, clear in relaying his excellent legal advice, and thorough and assertive in following through. He has fought for me every step of the way and more than that, he has shown me how to fight for myself with a strength that I never knew existed. Thank you, David, for being an absolute godsend during this most arduous time. I truly could not ask for better representation.”
Asked to sum up his philosophy in representing observant clients, Twail said: “In an ideal world, we would not have to deal with the issues of divorce, domestic violence or custody disputes. But we do, and the Jewish communities are not excluded from these problems. What is necessary, when these issues occur, is to take the steps necessary to ensure that rights are protected, children are protected and the specific issues attendant to the Jewish communities as a whole are considered.
“When Observant Jewish families undergo divorce, there is an absolute benefit to being represented by someone who is familiar with the needs of individuals and frum communities. Trying to explain to a secular judge how these nuanced issues need to be handled—tactfully, to avoid commotion in the greater community—is not always the easiest task. And those issues are over and above those that are attendant to every other divorce and custody matter.”
Tawil meets clients at his Westfield, Red Bank and Summit offices, offers evening and Sunday appointments when necessary, as well as video and telephone consultations. He can be reached at (908) 301-5609 (as his direct line) or [email protected].