June 25, 2014 at 7:00 AM
Local law firm Hollander, Strelzik, Pasculli, Pasculli, Hinkes, Wojcik, Gacquin, Vandenberg & Hontz is celebrating its 50th year of service to northern New Jersey residents. The law firm was founded in 1964 by current partner Sanford Hollander, along with Albert Trapasso, and Frank Dolan. It originally employed five other staff members in addition to the three partners. The story of the celebrated law firm is really the story of Sanford Hollander, who believes that he is the oldest practicing lawyer in Sussex County. According to Sanford, establishing the law firm was his idea. “Albert and Frank were ten years older than me. I was just a kid, really. They both had the same birthday. I propositioned the two of them in 1963 and we opened our doors on April 1st, 1964. Except for the Attorney General’s office, this is the only place I have ever worked.”
Sanford had formidable law partners. Like Sanford, Albert Trapasso also hailed from the town of Newton, and had been a star athlete at Newton High School. Frank Dolan was originally from Jersey City. Both Trapasso and Dolan were students at Fordham University and both were veterans of World War II. Albert Trapasso had been severely wounded in France during the war, and almost died on the battle field. He returned to Newton after a long rehabilitation. Frank Dolan served as a PT boat commander during the war. Later, he moved to Sussex County and eventually served as the Sussex County Prosecutor. Sanford Hollander attended Brown University, received his law degree from Columbia University, and was fortunate to have clerked for the Attorney General of New Jersey immediately following his graduation.
The firm was originally housed within the Sussex & Merchants National Bank Building on Spring Street. A short time later, the business moved across the Newton Town Square to 40 Park Place, the site it has occupied ever since.
According to Sanford, the keys to the firm’s success have been its ability to evolve as the law has evolved, and the opportunity to hire excellent attorneys who are specialists in their fields. “In the beginning, we were generalists, as were most lawyers,” recalls Sanford, “although Frank Dolan was a superior trial lawyer. When I came back to Sussex County there must have been 35 lawyers in the entire county. There were more cows than people.”
As a father of four outstanding scholar athletes who attended Newton High School, Sanford Hollander describes the firm’s hiring practices with a touch of humor, “I have never hired a lawyer who wasn’t smarter than me. I took the smartest kid out of my children’s high school classes! That’s how we got Mark Hontz and John Vandenberg.”
Regarding the evolution in the law, Sanford notes, “The world of law has changed. The expanding role of government in our lives has created rules and regulations promulgated under legislation. It’s incomprehensible how much they have proliferated over the past 50 years.”
Sanford specializes in real estate transactions, estate planning and administration. The firm has continued to expand and now numbers ten attorneys along with ten support staff. Each attorney is able to focus on an area of specialty, such as family law, elder law, workman’s compensation, personal injury, land use, bankruptcy, and other issues. “There is a unique family spirit in this law firm,” muses Sanford. “Everybody likes each other. We strive to serve the best interests of our clients and the public.” He is quick to add, “But that doesn’t mean that we’re not fierce advocates! We work very well with each other and with our clients. We’re always looking for lawyers who will be compatible with us and fit into our culture and philosophy.”
The motto on the firm’s website, “a legacy of caring and dedication to our clients’ needs,” sums up the philosophy of the firm and its founder. Sanford Hollander has been a staunch supporter of numerous local organizations, serving for twenty-one years on the Newton Board of Education and volunteering with the SCARC Board of Trustees for many years. He helped create SCARC’s pro bono Guardianship Services Program to provide assistance to secure legal guardianship for families with developmentally disabled adult children. “Every human being is entitled to infinite dignity because we are all created in the image of God,” he notes.
As his firm celebrates its 50th year, Sanford Hollander still comes to work every day. “It keeps me alive!” he jokes. He sees clients and consults with other attorneys at the firm. “At my age you think about your legacy. I am confident that the firm will continue to thrive because of the people who are here.”
The attorneys and employees of the law firm of Hollander, Strelzik, Pasculli, Pasculli, Hinkes, Wojcik, Vandenberg & Hontz follow in the footsteps of their founder by volunteering at numerous non-profit organizations within the community. In addition, they are proud of the firm’s legacy of professionalism and commitment to their clients. The firm is A-rated by Martindale & Hubbell, the agency which provides objective indicators for lawyers’ ethical standards and professionalism. Ratings are generated from evaluations of lawyers by other members of the bar and judiciary in the United States and Canada. For information about the law firm of Hollander, Strelzik, Pasculli, Pasculli, Hinkes, Wojcik, Gacquin, Vandenberg & Hontz, call 973-383-3256.