Donovan ‘seizes the day,’ opens boutique family law firm

After 13 years in practice, Fredericton family lawyer Jennifer Donovan will launch her own boutique law firm in December at 23 Avonlea Court on the city’s south side.

Donovan, owner of J. Donovan Law Group, tells the new firm is “woman-owned and operated,” and focuses on all aspects of family law services, including litigation, collaborative law, and as of February 2019, certified mediation services.

“I’ve rebranded my whole practice,” says Donovan. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do for six years. To me, a boutique means you’re coming for something special — you’re hiring a dedicated advocate committed to a particular area of the law.

“My practice is devoted to family law — that is what I’ve done day in and day out for the past 13 years. I also practice in real estate and wills and estates as they have a direct connection to family law matters,” she says.

Donovan credits her infant son, Aiyden, born Dec. 27, as her inspiration for the major move.

“Aiyden was my motivator to seize the day, do it now and don’t look back,” she says. “In the first week of January, I was looking for land to buy and build. I just had this goal to live the life I wanted, and to be an example.”

Donovan says her husband, Mike Swaby, has supported her decision every step of the way.

“He’s been fundamental in the rebranding, the encouragement and the guidance,” she says.

Deciding against the construction of a new building because of the lengthy time factor involved, Donovan chose to secure her new firm as the anchor tenant in a unique professional leasing accommodation. The building is owned and managed by LGLVXN Consulting Inc.

The 19-year-old structure has been completely renovated and offers 14 fully furnished executive office suites as well as the main floor receptionist, a full business centre, and a kitchen, she says, adding the grand boardroom and meeting rooms are available for rental, including in the evenings and on weekends, and there are 14 parking spots available at the back of the building.

Donovan says part of the reason for her decision to branch out was the desire to expand her service offerings.

“I wanted to add mediation services to my practice, but wasn’t able to do that in my current location,” she says.

With the Divorce Act under review, Donovan says there are recommendations to promote more dispute resolution processes in family law matters.

“I’d like to take my courtroom skills and experience and mediate disputes for people going through separation and divorce,” she says.

Donovan is trained in collaborative law, a family law alternative dispute resolution model that keeps people out of court, with the goal of resolving disputes respectfully.

Despite an active practice and a young child, Donovan says she still has time for community involvement. She recently joined Fredericton’s Women in Business network and has been invited to help the Women in Law group at the University of New Brunswick.

Just before the birth of her son, Donovan concluded chairing the capital city’s campaign for Liberty Lane, which raised $900,000 for a second-tier housing complex for women and children leaving abusive relationships.