Exeleon Magazine

Heart and Law: Interview with Carolyn Bellof

Carolyn Beloff

This interview with Carolyn Bellof is part of our ongoing Impactful Leaders in Law series of 2024. Check out the Digital Version of Edition I of this issue by clicking here.

By navigating the intricate and often emotionally charged space of family law, Carolyn Bellof brings a unique blend of compassion, expertise, and leadership to her role as the Managing Partner at Stallard & Bellof, PLLC

In this exclusive interview with Exeleon Magazine, the impactful leader shares insights into her leadership philosophy, the genesis of her partnership with a fellow hockey mom turned business partner, and the guiding principles that have steered their firm through a decade of service and growth.

What according to you makes one impactful? How do you integrate the same thought into your leadership?

A person makes an impact on others by being outgoing, sharing oneself with others by being open and honest and bringing others into one’s network. In being a leader at my firm or in the organizations I belong to, I try to make others feel welcomed and a part of the organization and the firm. Employees need to feel like they are more than just a worker to me and in fact, the people that work for me are so much more than just people that can get the job done. People make our firm what it is- they matter both at work and outside of work. I want to make sure that they are well supported in their lives. The relationships that we have with each other allow us to serve our clients better because if everyone feels like they matter and that they belong, they can do their job to the best of their ability.

Can you share the story of how Stallard & Bellof, PLLC was established? What inspired you to start your own family law practice in Charlotte, NC?

My law partner and I knew each other because our sons had played hockey with each other for years. I had been a stay-at-home mom and my law partner had been practicing family law for a few years. She wanted to start her own firm and I wanted to go back to work. It seemed to be a perfect fit because we knew each other and liked each other but we were not close friends. We both wanted to make a difference and to help people going through difficult times.

You’ve been in business with your partner for ten years. How did you navigate any initial disagreements or challenges in the partnership, and what strategies have contributed to the longevity of your partnership?

My law partner had been envisioning starting a firm for a number of years, so she had an idea of what needed to be done to get started. I was willing to learn North Carolina family law and I was willing to do the litigation work. The biggest struggles at the beginning were simply figuring out how to get clients in the door.

As we began working with each other, we began to learn about each other’s personalities. We quickly realized that we have opposite personalities and sometimes that is great because things that she excels at I do not and vice versa. That, however, can be tremendously frustrating if you do not understand why the other person does the things they do. We each had to learn why the other person did things that drove the other person crazy. Once we each realized how the other person dealt with struggles and the coping strategy of the other, it became easier. Being in a partnership is like being in a marriage. There is a tremendous amount of give and take and we each need to respect the other person. I think the biggest thing that has kept us together is trust.

Family law often involves unique and emotionally charged cases. Can you recount one or two particularly memorable or challenging cases that stand out in your career?

One of the first litigated cases involved a client whose ex-wife wanted to move many states away with their children. Our client up to that point had his children for a week at a time every other week. The ex-wife had married a man with a lot of money, and they were paying a very seasoned attorney to represent them. We spent an incredible amount of time preparing for that trial and we won. We were able to keep the ex-wife from taking the children to another state. It was a great outcome for our client.

How do you navigate the emotional aspects of family law cases, considering the unpredictability and sensitivity of the issues involved?

We understand that every one of our clients comes to us at their very worst time. They often need a lot of understanding and grace. Because emotions are high, they often need to be told things several times before they can process the information we are giving them. We also realize that we cannot solve all of our client’s problems. We can give them advice and help them as best as possible giving the legal process that is in place, but we cannot always get the outcome that the client wants.

Finally, what is your vision going forward for your firm? What are you most excited about?

We are very excited to continue to grow. We are beginning to represent people in South Carolina as well as North Carolina. We look forward to hiring another attorney this year to continue to assist people going through the divorce process. We are also excited to teach newer attorneys how to practice family law and to litigate.

Visit Stallard & Bellof, PLLC Website.

Contact Carolyn Bellof on LinkedIn.

Read Previous

Making a Difference: Interview with Deanna Johnson

Read Next

Defending Justice – The Role of Criminal Defence Barristers