Owner / Attorney
When I was 5 years old, my parents separated. When I was 7, just a few months after my little sister was born – they divorced. I don’t recall whether I understood what was happening. What I do remember were a lot of arguments, crying, and stressful days and nights.
There was no custody battle. My father left and it was us (my 3-year-old brother, newborn sister and me) and my Mom. That was my world. That was my family growing up.
I’m confident that my parents made the right choice to divorce. They weren’t right for each other. And once my Father left, things settled down at home, but life was still far from stress-free.
Ironically enough, my parent’s divorce pushed me away from family law, not towards it. I never planned on being a divorce attorney, but as you will see from my story below, it was a calling that has never let me go.
Choosing Law School
After I graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University, I ventured off to the big city of Philadelphia to work at an investment firm. I had never given law school much of a thought until 1999, when Hurricane Floyd hit the east coast. Many of you here in North Carolina probably remember that storm. It hit us just as hard up in Philly, and my apartment was flooded – I lost thousands of dollars of furniture and electronics. And learned a hard lesson about why it is important to carry renter’s insurance (I didn’t have it at the time). As a result, I got into a legal fight with my landlord (a lawyer) about who was responsible for the damage (I lost).
But as a result of this one incident, I decided that I would never be taken advantage of again because I didn’t understand the law. So in 2001 I packed up and headed to law school.
My First Years of Practice
I enjoyed law school immensely. And it was during my time at Ohio State that I first started learning about alternative forms of dispute resolution, such as mediation and various negotiation strategies. After I graduated, I moved south to Florida where I took and passed the bar exam.
After passing the bar, becoming a family law attorney was the last thing I planned on doing. My focus was to give law firm life a try for a couple of years and then eventually venture out on my own.
I started with the public defender’s office in Seminole County, Florida, where I quickly learned how to try cases in front of juries. I was literally handed a stack of files and sent to court on my first day of work. I had no idea what I was doing, but it was in those courtrooms that I started to realize that I could be a voice for my clients and effect positive change in their lives.
After about a year at the PD’s office, I went to work for a more traditional law firm, defending hospitals against medical malpractice. Aside from not enjoying representing a faceless entity, I soon realized that I missed the days of being in court and representing individuals whose lives I could directly impact and help.
So at the end of 2005, I left firm life behind and started my first solo practice.
A Family Law Practice is Born
There are some attorneys who say they chose family law, I can honestly say that family law chose me. I initially rejected the thought of being a family law attorney. But shortly after I started my practice, another lawyer in my building started to send me all of his “domestic” cases, as he liked to call them. I needed money to pay the bills, so I took them. Before I knew it, my firm was busier than I could possibly imagine and we were a full-fledged family law firm.
What I found from this experience is that I saw my Mother in many of my female clients. These women were in the process of becoming single mothers with little kids and a one-income household. They needed the financial support of their ex-husbands, and their ex-husbands had no interest in paying any support at all.
After several years, my wife and I decided that we needed a change. We didn’t want to raise a family in central Florida. We looked for a new home and eventually stumbled upon North Carolina.
The Move to North Carolina
In 2009, we moved to Cary and I was forced to take another bar exam. In 2010 I re-launched my law practice as The Hart Law Firm. By now my Wife was pregnant with our first child and once again, the family law cases started coming to me.
From 2010 through 2016, I didn’t do much to grow the law firm. We had two more children and my Mom passed away from cancer. Sometimes life is more important than building a business, and those years were definitely a strange period in my life. I didn’t sleep much, life was chaotic, and I took on fewer cases because of everything else going on around me.
I dabbled in some other practice areas along the way and considered dropping family law entirely. But something about the people I was helping kept pulling me back…
The Future of The Hart Law Firm
About a year after my Mom passed away, I started to put more focus into the law firm. We started to experiment with different systems and fee structures. We began actively looking for ways to improve the way we practice law and provide value to our clients.
The Hart Law Firm is currently in a growth stage. No more stagnation. We have big plans for the firm moving forward. We recently added a client services director, and are currently interviewing for a marketing assistant. Our goal for the first quarter of 2019 is to add an additional associate to help with the caseload.
In addition, I am currently writing a book that will help guide clients through the process of separation and divorce, and in the next few months we plan to begin offering legal workshops, webinars, and DIY information to help members of the community educate themselves about divorce and their legal options.
My wife Donna and I have three awesome children who are currently ages 8, 6, and 4. We’ve been residents of Cary since 2009. We love to hike, travel, cook (we are all vegetarians), go camping, and enjoy the many wonderful activities that the Triangle has to offer.
My hobbies include jogging with our lab, Lucy (although she has a hard time keeping up), reading, spending time with family, fantasy football, and watching the Browns, Indians, Cavs and Buckeyes.
Necessary Lawyer Bio
Jim attended The Ohio State State University Moritz College of Law, graduating in 2004. After passing the Florida Bar, Jim worked for the 18th Circuit Public Defender’s Office in Sanford, Florida before joining a medical malpractice firm in Winter Park.
In 2009, Jim and his wife moved to Cary where they have lived ever since. Jim passed the North Carolina Bar in 2010 and has been operating The Hart Law Firm ever since.
Areas of Practice
Post Separation Support
North Carolina (2010)
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, J.D. 2004
Case Western Reserve University School of Law 2001-2002
University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School 2000
Ohio Wesleyan University B.A. 1998