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It was a scene out of the movie Jerry McQuire.
Gina Simonelli had just quit her high-paying job at a huge law firm.
And she was up against the clock.
If she were to succeed in starting her own law practice, she needed to retain clients.
“I brought in my closest friends in business and within 48 hours had 100 clients switch over to me,” she recalled. “We had a team of people, assigned by geography. We had pegs all over the map. We got them.”
She then launched the law firm of Toresco & Simonelli with her husband, John Toresco, in West Islip.
The firm is thriving.
“You own the risk, you own the reward,” she likes to say.
“The stakes were pretty high.”
why she did it
At the big firm, Simonelli was spending much of her time on the train, and the subways — and she was pregnant.
She carried guilt over not seeing her first-born as much.
She felt selfish.
“I got through it with my first kid, and with the second kid I said, this is not fair; I can’t do this anymore,” she told GreaterBabylon last month.
That was April 2018. Now in 2021, those days of feeling helpless and out of touch in a subway tunnel also feel long gone.
She’s now close to her home in Babylon. She can get her kids off the bus. If there’s a call from the nurse, she can spring into action, working remotely when she needs.
With the mindset of what works for a working mother, SImonelli has surrounded herself with a team of women — all mothers themselves — to build her personal injury practice.
(Her husband handles marital law on his own.)
“These are part-time, mom-friendly hours,” she said. ‘But we all work together so the firm is 100 percent covered. It’s actually able to be open 24 hours because of the setup.
“It’s a flexible schedule designed around the moms’ needs.”
Simonelli is better off, too, as her big firm salary has been far eclipsed by what she’s making now — thanks to her own drive, ingenuity and courage,
The firm today employs five women in the office. And the approach to treating clients is distinctively more female in nature, speaking in the most general of terms.
“The happiest people are the givers, not the takers,” says Simonelli.
“It’s not how you can squeeze every dime out of a client’s pocket by spending unnecessary money,” she said.
It’s about spending efficiently. It’s the stuff they tried to teach us in home economics.
Simonelli has also been at the forefront of using modern technology to propel her firm, and make it work for the moms on staff, and the clients.
There are five women on the team, all pictured above.
Between them, they have 10 kids.
That’s 10 human beings who will be better off because of a decision one woman made in 2018.
Photo (L-R): Wendis Rodriguez, Christina Belletti, Gina Simonelli, Jessica Morales and Rania Cairo. (Credit: Michael White)