An Interview with Jennifer Cona, Esq. Managing Partner of Genser Dubow Genser & Cona LLP
About Jennifer B. Cona, Esq.
Jennifer Cona is the managing partner of Genser Dubow Genser & Cona LLP, a leading Elder Law firm on Long Island. Based in Melville, the firm provides a holistic approach to Elder Law and Estate Planning, addressing issues on a practical and multigenerational level and also by working together with both families and health care facilities to sustain quality care for older adults.
Jennifer provides hands-on management and leadership for the firm of 35. Under her guidance, the firm has earned numerous prestigious awards for business acumen and commitment to the community. Jennifer is rated a Super Lawyer, a Top 10 Legal Eagle on Long Island and has received the Leadership in Law award and the Top 50 Most Influential Women in Business award. She has been featured in many publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Newsday, The New York Law Journal, LI Business News, Kiplinger’s and Reader’s Digest. She is a frequent author and lecturer and has appeared as a guest on WNBC-TV, WABC-TV, CNN-fn, Fox 5 News, News 12 LI, and various
Tell us how you started.
I started a solo Elder Law practice in Manhattan 17 years ago. My practice grew quite quickly and I made many connections on Long Island after signing up my first consortium of health care facility clients which were located on Long Island. I started “pounding the pavement” through various business networking groups and took every opportunity to meet people for breakfasts, lunches and dinners every day of the week. It was a very busy time but I met great people, found wonderful resources and learned how to navigate the Long Island business community.
About one year later, I merged my practice into the Genser firm then located in Jericho to share resources and take advantage of their skills and reputation in litigation. That merger afforded me a great spring board to ramp up the Elder Law and Health Care Facility Reimbursement and Recovery Departments. I grew the practice by over 300% in the first year.
What was a turning point for your firm?
As managing partner, I have always been concerned with the office environment I am creating. I have worked in many different atmospheres, from capitol hill to city government to private law firms, and have taken notes along the way. I strive to create a firm that I would want to work for – one that cares about its employees, its community and builds a sense of corporate citizenship. I create employee policies that I would want if I were looking for a place to work, such as flex time, generous maternity leave and return to work schedules. We have a Zen Room in the office so people can take a breather when stress builds up. I bring in a yoga instructor once a week for anyone who wants to participate. These are things I enjoy so why not make them available to everyone! This commitment to our employees at the same level of commitment we have for our clients is what defines us and makes the difference here. We are truly a team and very much have a close family atmosphere, despite being a firm of 35 people.
What is your philosophy at GDGC?
We treat clients like we would treat our own family members. We analyze every case and course of action by asking: “What would you do if it was your mom or dad?” This keeps our attorneys and staff grounded, keeps us compassionate and empathetic to the plights of our clients, and allows us to feel really good about what we do when we go to sleep at night. Elder Law is a caring field. We care for multiple generations in almost every case so we take a bigger picture view of each situation and we help with more than just the legal issues. We help clients navigate caregiver issues, family dynamics, financial matters and other practical issues. We opened a Caregiver Resource Center in our office for just this purpose. Our ultimate goal is to work together with both families and health care facilities to sustain quality care for older adults.
Tell us about your firm’s profile today.
We are well-known and regarded for our level of advocacy and for our cutting-edge strategies. We take on the tough cases no one else wants because we like to push the envelope, test new theories and make new law.
Elder Law is constantly changing which makes it very dynamic but also very demanding and challenging. Everyone here, at all levels of the firm, is excited to practice at the highest level and to tackle complex matters. It binds us as a team and all accomplishments are shared.
We are deeply committed to community involvement and the principal that if we all do a little, we can make a big impact. GDGC is recognized throughout Long Island for its charitable activities, whether we work in a soup kitchen, deliver clothing to the homeless, raise money and awareness for national organizations or grant wishes for low-income seniors through our own charity, Senior Dreams Come True. We feel we have a corporate responsibility to give back and also that we can raise the profile of attorneys and law firms in general by our outreach and good deeds.
What opportunities do you see in the future?
The biggest issue I see facing our workforce is the issue of elder-caregiving. The combination of the elderly living longer and workers staying on the job longer combines to pack a powerful punch to businesses. Studies have shown that elder-caregiving costs employers $33.6 billion annually in lost productivity and absenteeism costs the US economy an estimated $25.2 billion. An AARP study entitled “2014 State of the 50+ on Long Island” showed that two-thirds of working elder-caregivers on LI have lost work time and wages due to providing care for an aging loved one.
From this issue comes an opportunity: GDGC launched TAWC: Tools and Advice for Working Caregivers. TAWC is an employee benefits program provided to businesses at no cost to the employer. Like a Workplace Wellness program, the program offers support to employees by giving them the tools they need to navigate the elder care landscape. Businesses need to approach this issue similar to child care in that more than 50% of any workforce will be juggling elder-caregiving with their full-time job. Awareness is starting to grow and industries such as finance, banking, health care, and insurance have signed on to the program. Businesses that are pro-active will be ahead of the curve and will be leaders in their fields, attracting and maintaining a quality workforce.
For more information on Genser Dubow Genser & Cona LLP, visit www.genserlaw.com or call 631.390.5000