Jeff Herman, founder of namesake Herman Law, is a world renowned attorney who specializes in sexual abuse cases. He has amassed decades worth of experience within the legal system, and has successfully provided justice for countless survivors of sexual abuse, rape, and sexual exploitation. Spearheading the field of forensic interviewing of individuals affected by sexual exploitation, Herman regains justice for those affected by sexual abuse, whilst deeply caring for the wellbeing of clients. On a national scale, he coaches law enforcement professionals, mental health team members, and educational leaders about survivor empowerment through disclosure.
Jeff Herman has gained vast recognition within the legal field for his compassionate rapport with survivors, and tough confidence within the courtroom. Having tried various high profile cases, he has shed the light on countless incidents of sexual abuse within church settings, school settings, and other places where individuals should naturally feel safe. Most notably, he uncovered the sexual abuse of minors via clergy within the Archdiocese of Miami. Herman Law focuses solely on cases of sexual abuse, and devotes all energies toward turning victims into survivors.
Tell us a bit about being an attorney at Herman Law.
Being an attorney, in general, requires a lot of dedication, focus, and drive. Within the particular niche of sexual abuse work, it also requires a lot of strength, empathy, and ability to recognize the importance of empowering survivors. Thus, it is certainly not a career for the faint of heart, but is one that I have personally found to be incredibly rewarding. As Herman Law focuses entirely on cases of sexual misconduct, abuse, and exploitation, I personally deal with individuals’ worst nightmares on a daily basis.
From the initial complimentary consultation with a potential client, I involve myself in each case. My team and I delve into each prospective case, utilize criminal investigation tactics to gather information, and determine whether we can take on a client. From there, we spend vast resources to provide the most appropriate services for clients, including the use of private investigators, researchers, and other personnel.
During this process, I take great care, and personal pride, in speaking with clients about their experiences, and encouraging them to become survivors, advocates, and find their voices after traumatic experiences. We often involve families, loved ones, and close members affected by these traumatic experiences, and aim to provide healing for all involved in cases.
Typically, my work days are quite lengthy, and require intense focus from myself, and my entire team. As we are on the road a lot, and need to be on the same page at all times, we utilize software that allows us to update files in real-time, and access files from remote locations. This not only helps us all to remain organized, but also allows us to be prepared for any changing situation.
What gave you the idea for your business, and how did it start?
About twenty years ago, I was professionally fulfilled as a commercial litigator. Through my extensive network of colleagues, I was referred to a mother who had an incredible story, and her plight eventually would change the scope of my professional life, and the drive I would find for the field in which I am involved today. This woman’s son, an individual with autism, was sexually abused at his pre-school, a place where all children are supposed to inherently feel safe. Upon researching the allegation, I discovered that the individual in question was a previously convicted sexual offender, who was employed by the pre-school. I found it sickening that this person was essentially able to have daily interactions with children, and that his prior conviction, and status, was allowed to go unnoticed. If the pre-school ran a simple background check prior to hiring this individual, they would have been able to prevent a series of events from unfolding, events that changed a child’s life forever.
I took on this case, and vowed to garner justice, dignity, and reprieve for this child, as well as for this family. Additionally, I was motivated to stop this grave injustice from occurring in the future, and wanted to showcase the importance of properly screening employees within locations that are safe havens for potentially vulnerable populations. Upon winning this case, I knew that my life changed, and I immediately recognized that my calling was within this niche field of legal practice.
Thus, I began Herman Law, and devoted all of my efforts to growing the practice. I decided to focus entirely on cases related to sexual abuse, and to give a voice for those whose voices were silenced by sexual crime. From there, Herman Law became my life’s work, and continues to thrive as a business, and as a reputable organization that fights for the welfare of survivors.
What’s your favorite thing about your job?
I am vastly motivated by the positive changes I witness within the lives of survivors of sexual abuse, and their loved ones. Many times, throughout initial conversations with survivors, they are noticeably frightened, unsure of themselves, and otherwise silenced by their experiences. With much effort, conversation, impactful forensic interviewing, and continued support, it is absolutely vindicating to witness survivors regain their confidence, and once again become strong individuals.
Additionally, I greatly enjoy traveling throughout the country, and teaching various professionals about the warning signs of sexual abuse, prevention methods, forensic interviewing techniques, and other aspects related to sexually motivated crimes. A firm believer in the notion that “knowledge is power”, I am motivated to share information with professionals, and continue to hope for more widespread educational efforts within this topic.
What are your keys to making yourself more productive?
I tend to be a visual learner, and thrive in an environment that caters to this style of learning. Thus, I usually utilize the assistance of large white boards within my office setting. Each case receives a dedicated whiteboard, which is filled with timelines, pertinent information, and small pieces that make up the entire puzzle. As each case is tremendously complicated, and filled with many intricate details, this method aides in my ability to consider these details, without having to worry about remembering them all, and remembering the ways in which they fit together.
Additionally, the entire team utilizes software that allows us to share documents in real-time, and remain connected remotely. I find that this allows us all to work in tandem, and resolves the issue of losing paperwork, having to collect paperwork from colleagues, and having to wait for potentially game-changing information.
How do you work to grow your business?
Within this particular scope of legal practice, the client’s experience is a vital point of success. Of course, I strive to win each case, and am proud of my abilities within the court, but I could not consider myself successful if my efforts did not help a survivor feel empowered. Thus, I take great pride, and devote a lot of resources, to ensuring that my customers grow into strong members of society, and regain the parts of themselves that were silenced after experiencing trauma.
Due to the highly personal nature of my business, the best way to grow the business is through word-of-mouth references, which follow a positive client relationship. However, this method of growing the business is also somewhat of a double edged sword. In other fields, satisfied clients shout their success stories from the rooftops. However, due to the continued existence of stigma surrounding sexual abuse, clients sometimes may not feel compelled to share their experiences with others.
In addition to providing excellent, thoughtful, and thorough customer service, Herman Law also focuses on growing through the acquisition of new clients. This means that we constantly make sure that our web presence is up-to-date, and that the practice is easily found by those seeking legal counsel. Herman Law provides complimentary consultations, which are often the first point of contact for individuals who have never spoken out about their experiences, and who are only beginning to think about filing court proceedings to garner justice for their suffering. Thus, as this first point of contact, we work tirelessly to ensure that prospective clients receive the best possible consultation, and feel empowered to move forward with their cases.
Finally, the business has seen continued growth as a result of continued education efforts. I am a firm believer in educating the public about all aspects of sexually motivated crime, and believe that removing the stigma from sexual crimes will allow more individuals to come forward with their stories.
Tell us one long-term goal in your career.
I find my educational outreach work to be very fulfilling, I would like to ultimately devote additional time and resources to working on sexual crime prevention, and educating professionals on the various topics related to the prevention of all sexually motivated crime.
What’s the most valuable lesson you have learned through the course of your career?
By necessity, I have learned to appropriately balance my personal life, and my career. I am entirely fulfilled by my professional choices, and am greatly involved in each case at Herman Law. Throughout the years, I have found myself deeply invested in these cases. However, I see the worst of humanity of a daily basis, and after several years in the business, I was starting to become physically ill, and mentally drained, as a direct result of being constantly so close to the proverbial fire. In fact, at a certain point within my career, I seriously debated whether or not I could continue to be involved within the field of sexual crime.
At that time, at the suggestion of my physician, I engaged in biometric training. Within biometric training, I learned how to be empathetic to the plight of my clients, and how to maintain a healthy perspective. Essentially, I learned how to effectively be empathetic to the feelings of my clients, but how to avoid personally owning those feelings, and feeling them myself. I have found this practice to be extremely effective, and cite is as being one of the reasons for my continued ability to do my job effectively on a long-term basis. Thus, I have learned that in order to be able to be the best advocate for my clients, I need to be able to empathize with them, but maintain the focus needed in order to empower them, and represent them.
What advice would you give to others aspiring to succeed in your field?
I would certainly tell others to maintain patience, and to enjoy each step toward the journey of eventual “success”. Many times, professionally, people maintain a somewhat narrow minded approach to success, and their field of vision is narrowed by certain goals, expectations, and pressures that are completely self-assigned. As a result, they end up missing out on the joys of achieving smaller milestones.
Additionally, I would tell anyone interested in pursuing a career within the legal field to find an area of the law that speaks to them inherently, and to find a way to combine that with law practice. Within this role, the hours are long, the work is grueling, and traveling is extensive. Thus, it is a lot to take on, and personal motivation helps to make the responsibilities feel less daunting. For me, I continue to be personally driven by the notion of aiding survivors of sexual abuse, and thus, I have parlayed this motivation into a successful career within this niche subsection of legal practice. Personal drive not only allows me to be successful on a long-term basis, but also allows me to perform all of the needed duties without feeling bogged down by the extensive nature of the work.
What is a trend in your field that you find exciting?
Though I would call it a movement, rather than a trend, I am moved, excited, and motivated by the recent growth of the #metoo movement, and the role that social media has had within the scope of victim empowerment. Where many victims have felt isolated previously, and may have never met other individuals who were ever involved in similar situations, they now have the opportunity to build a worldwide support network of other survivors, supporters, and like-minded individuals. This allows for a strength-in-numbers type of confidence, and may be what propels individuals to move forward with their lives post-trauma, and regain confidence.
In the same realm, the globalization of the community also means that predators have less anonymity, and are, in theory, more easily recognized. With national databases, “watchdog” groups, and educational materials available in a single click, predators are being watched, and the general population has more and more learning material available at their fingertips. If someone wants to learn ways in which to protect themselves against potential crime, they can find vast resources available to them, which hasn’t always been the case.
It is truly an exciting time for victim advocacy, and I hope to see more of a communal effort in regaining the lives of survivors, garnering justice, and maintaining safe communities. I believe that with continued education, public awareness, and social media presence, the topic of sexual abuse will no longer remain taboo in the very near future.
What are your favorite things to do outside of work?
As I am deeply motivated by my job, I often don’t consider it to be “work”, and will often find myself reading about various topics related to sexual abuse, participating in various panels, providing television interviews, and otherwise remaining interactive within the realm of my job. I greatly enjoy spending time with my family, and watching my children develop into wonderful young adults. Recently, I taught my oldest son how to fish, and since then, he has enjoyed fishing quite a lot! He has single handedly chosen to donate all of the fish he catches to a local program that provides food for the needy, and thus, he has learned the value of giving back to others.
Name a few influential books you’ve read and/or websites you keep up with that you’d recommend to readers.
I would highly recommend Dale Carnegie’s “How To Win Friends And Influence People”. Through reading this book, I was able to empathize with individuals’ ability to rationalize their own behavior. Even criminals think that their actions are somehow justified, and through reading this book, I was able to realize this lesson. It has helped me to understand the psyche in a different manner, and I would highly recommend the book to anyone professionally involved in a field that calls for the understanding of human nature. Essentially, everyone can draw lessons related to interpersonal communication from this book.
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