Jennifer Tomac is a woman always in motion, constantly on the go from the law offices of Tomac & Tomac in Rapid City, to meetings with clients, to after-school pickups, to volunteering her time and parenting four boys: Ethan, (14) Drew (11), Jonah (7) and Jeremiah (4), all in a single day.
In 2013, the Rapid City Stevens grad founded her own practice in Virginia after working five years for the Fairfax County Probate Office. The practice soon had more work than time, and she became partners with her attorney husband. For eight years, Jennifer and Jared have lived and breathed all things Tomac & Tomac.
As described by her husband, Jennifer is driven, as is evidenced by expanding their legal practice back to their South Dakota roots, facilitating a parenting small group at her church and serving as a board member with the Allied Arts Fund. And if that is not enough, she is developing a list of businesses (to be published on the RCAS website) that offer discounts to teachers, a project sparked by her passion for education and helping teachers.
It’s a full day-to-day agenda, but a steadfast work ethic, a relentless positive attitude and an infectious laugh all work together to propel her through it all.
What were you doing just before I arrived? Cleaning the bathroom.
How did you choose to become a lawyer? I always thought I wanted to be a teacher, but one day in class at Black Hills State, a Spearfish lawyer was speaking to us. While listening to him, I remember saying to myself, “I think I should do this”. So, I transferred to the University of Colorado Boulder and then went to Regent University, Virginia Beach for law school. I still love teaching and think I will go back to it some day, in some way.
What is your favorite part of law? I went to work in Washington D.C. in 2008 and my first job was as a staff attorney for the Fairfax County Probate Office. I absolutely fell in love with that area of the law. I was there for five years, so I reviewed, approved, examined and researched hundreds of thousands of wills, powers of attorney, trusts, conservatorships and guardianships. It was just fascinating to me on so many levels – all the way down to the tiny little details where you find out how words are so important. I love how I get to be an attorney, and, as it used to be called, a “Counselor at Law” helping people with these issues.
How did you start your own law firm? About three years into my job at the probate office I started coming home frustrated and something needed to change. Jared was still in law school, so it was a little scary. But, I decided to start my own practice and began doing probate cases and filing with my old office.
Not long after, we got into the planning side to help clients avoid making their family go through the same probate experience they had just been through. By adding that into my practice I got really busy and needed to hire someone. At this point, Jared had graduated law school, was working in a large firm, working 65 hours a week and we had four kids. We prayed about it for a long time, because one person self-employed is different than both in the family being self-employed, particularly when you have four kids and student loans. But, we decided to go for it – and that is when we became Tomac & Tomac.
When did you move back to Rapid City? We moved back in July of 2015. It was the age of the kids that really forced our hand to make the move. We knew we didn’t want to move Ethan during high school. It was hard enough to do it when we did it. It was now or never.
What’s it like to work so closely with Jared? We have a really great relationship. It’s the Ying and the Yang. We both are very aware of what our strengths are and what our weaknesses are and they are the opposite of each other. The books and numbers, the spreadsheets – are not my thing – and Jared loves that stuff. Me, I like going out and talking to people. We make it work that way.
What do your kids think about the family business? They love it and think it would be fun if we had a bakery, too. They think this is normal, that everyone should have their own family business.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? I drink a big glass of water. We’re on a 30-day cleanse to get healthier and are doing a clean eating challenge. Then I help get school lunches ready for everybody and get the little one dressed.
What time does your alarm go off? 6:30 a.m.
What does a typical day look like for you? I get the big kids on the bus; drop Jeremiah off at preschool at 8 a.m. Work from 8-11:45 a.m., then leave to pick up Jeremiah at noon. Run kids around in the afternoon. Make dinner, help with homework, play a few board games and snuggle until 8 p.m. Then, I work again from about 8-10 p.m.
Last thing you do before going to bed? Pray.
What books on your iPad/Kindle?
I still like books actually. I’m reading two right now: Loving Our Kids on Purpose, as well as How To Talk So Kids Will ListenandListen So Kids Will Talk.
And music? I love everything. We are big music people. We have everything from show tunes to pop to country to the golden age of 1950s and ‘60s country. Just the other night, the family sang karaoke in the living room.
Three things in your purse besides your cell phone and wallet. I don’t carry a purse any more, but in my workbag I have a journal, lip gloss and a Hot Wheels car. There’s a story behind the car; I was going through security to get into court one day. I knew the person scanning the bags because I’m in there enough. He smiled when it scanned and said, “I hope that Hot Wheel helps with your argument counselor.” I assured him it would.
A word to describe being the mom of four boys? Fun.
Three words to describe yourself. Creative, giving and thoughtful.
One thing you can’t live without. My phone. It keeps me connected to everybody and everything.
Favorite way to spend your family time. We love to go out in the Hills with the boys.
How do you manage to keep everything balanced? It’s a constant adjustment.
What’s your number one rule for the boys? Be kind. It helps with everything in life, from my relationship with them to their relationship with each other to their relationship with people at school. It’s the root of everything.
Favorite meal to cook at home. We like to grill a lot – grilled chicken and salmon.
Favorite places to frequent. With the boys, the Elks Movie Theatre, the new Sugar Sweets candy store and Sylvan Lake.
I love the Wine Cellar when it’s just Jared and me.
Good habit you’d like to pass on to the boys. Tithing.
Any bad habits? I’m messy.
Jared says that’s the perfect one to say because something’s got to give, and in our house, that’s what gives – and we are both ok with it. Except I feel hypocritical because I ask them to pick up their stuff and then I’m not always good at picking mine up.
The hardest part about being a mom. Balance.
Best part about being a mom. Tiny feet, big hearts, bear hugs, amazing discoveries, games, rock climbing, rock collecting, music, dancing, reading, love.
Last gift you gave? We gave my niece a kitty cat hat for
Last gift you received. My 7 year-old gave me a dandelion last week; he said it was “the first flower of Spring.”
A superpower you wish you had? Flying.
Favorite vacation destination. Disney World.
Since the interview, and a half hour before the photo session, Jennifer was at the courthouse being sworn in, finally having received her letter of acceptance from the South Dakota State Bar – just another ordinary, busy day in the life of this Mom Next Door you will just have to meet.