STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Thomas J. Hall readily admits that he didn’t have dreams of growing up and becoming a lawyer.
“When I went to Georgetown undergrad, I started in the business school. However, during my junior year, I took a Constitutional Law course, which I loved,” recalled Hall. “I went on to attend Vermont Law School, found my passion, and never looked back.”
Upon graduating from Vermont Law School, Hall became a judicial law clerk in the Superior Court of New Jersey in Ocean County and started his law career in New Jersey.
A year later, the late John G. Hall, a prominent Staten Island attorney and Tom’s father, asked his son if he was interested in joining his law firm, and the father-son duo decided to give working together a try.
“We worked so well together. As anyone who has ever been in a family business knows, having a parent as a boss can complicate a relationship. A big part of our success in working well together was that my father did not try to micromanage what I did. Just like any other associate in the law firm, I was given legal matters to handle, and there was an expectation of providing excellent representation to our clients. It was as simple as that,” Hall recalled. “We spoke before I came in, and we agreed that work would be work and family things wouldn’t interfere with work, and we wouldn’t let those lines cross. For us, that worked out very well.”
Buoyed by his hard work and dedication, Hall eventually made partner in 1992, thus changing the practice to the current name of The Law Firm of Hall & Hall LLP, in Stapleton.
“My breadth of experience over the years has benefited me greatly and enabled me to be more well-rounded, and in my opinion, a better lawyer,” he said. “It never ceases to amaze me how something that I have learned in handling a bankruptcy matter, for example, has helped many years later to solve an issue in a completely different area of the law, such as in an estate proceeding.”
Throughout his 32-year career, Hall has handled a multitude of commercial and residential real estate transactions and mortgage loan closings, numerous commercial and residential mortgage foreclosures, tax lien foreclosures, and related bankruptcy proceedings. Hall has also handled numerous trust and estate matters over the years, including estate planning, drafting both simple and complex wills and trusts, probate and administration of estates and estate litigation.
In the firm’s capacity as general counsel to one of the nation’s 25 largest savings banks, Hall provided advice on numerous banking, lending, regulatory, and corporate legal matters for many years. Hall has litigated numerous real estate and business disputes. He has also been retained as an expert witness in a number of real estate, banking and foreclosure matters.
Although the firm has enjoyed much success, Hall said it came with adjustments and adaptions along the way.
“Early in my career, we were at the tail end of a real estate boom. Within a matter of two or three years, the real estate market entered into a big downturn. As a result, I became involved in some areas the firm didn’t have expertise in, such as going into bankruptcy court. I would handle those types of matters when the market was down,” he said.
Later, as general counsel to the former Staten Island Savings Bank, The Law Firm of Hall & Hall, LLP needed to quickly expand to 19 lawyers and almost 90 employees when the financial institution became public in 1997 and significantly ramped up its mortgage lending and expanded to other states.
“We had to work very hard to grow to handle a rapid and exponential increase in the volume of our transactional work, while maintaining the excellent quality of legal services that all of our clients had come to expect. Although we were still doing much of the same type of legal work, the scope of things changed tremendously,” Hall said.
Years later, following a change in the Staten Island Savings Bank’s ownership, the law firm downsized to its current five-lawyer practice.
“Bigger is not necessarily better, in my opinion. When we were a bigger firm, I often felt I wasn’t being a lawyer. I had to manage people and address numerous administrative issues. Those other duties cut down the amount of time I could actually practice law,” he said. “With our current size, I have fewer administrative issues to worry about, and I can focus on our clients and practice law in a more pure form. This is what I truly enjoy.”
For his accomplishments, Hall is being honored with a Louis R. Miller Business Leadership Award, which he will receive in the Established Businessperson category. The awards — which are presented by the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce and the Staten Island Advance — honor the memory of Louis R. Miller, a businessman and West Brighton resident who was also a community leader.
Hall has been active in the local community for years, serving as a former board member of the Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences, the Staten Island YMCA, and the Georgetown University Alumni Admissions Program.
Hall is a former president of the Richmond County Bar Association and is the chairman of its Real Estate Committee. An active member of the New York State Bar Association Real Property Section, he is a member of its Executive Committee and Subcommittee on Foreclosures and Workouts. He is the former co-chair of the Committee on Title and Transfer. Hall has also served as a member of the New York State Bar’s governing body, the House of Delegates. In January 2018, he was elected as chair of the 4,300-member Real Property Law Section of the New York State Bar Association at its annual meeting in Manhattan.
“Being active in professional organizations, such as our County and State Bar Associations, has helped me to establish a network of colleagues that I can call on,” said Hall. “It’s a two-way street. I have people from those groups who call me, and I’m able to help them in an area of law that I know, and they are not familiar with. Likewise, when faced with something outside of my practice area, I can readily call on someone who is an expert in that area. These kinds of relationships are invaluable, and ultimately provide a significant benefit to our clients.”
Hall has written articles for the New York Law Journal and the Vermont Law Review, and has co-authored several articles on real estate matters for the Richmond County Bar Journal.
“Any professional has a duty to give back to their profession. That duty is most important in the place where you practice,” he said. “I was very fortunate to have my father as a mentor in my profession. Not every young lawyer is so fortunate in that regard. It is my obligation to pay that forward and help young lawyers become professional and capable attorneys.”
Recipients of the Louis R. Miller Awards are recognized as effective business leaders and for their outstanding contributions to the local community. Awards are given out in four categories: Emerging, Established, Master, and Not-For-Profit. The honorees will be recognized during the annual Louis R. Miller Business Leadership Awards Breakfast on Thursday, Feb. 25. This year’s event is virtual. For tickets, visit www.sichamber.com or call the Chamber at 718-727-1900.
Below, Hall shares more about his goals, job and life:
Current occupation and title: Attorney; partner in the Law Firm of Hall & Hall LLP
Hometown: Currently a resident of Colts Neck, N.J.; grew up in Prince’s Bay (until about age 8), then moved to Grymes Hill (until about age 12), and then moved to Colts Neck.
Graduated: Georgetown University and then Vermont Law School.
Past occupations and titles: Judicial law clerk, Superior Court, Ocean County, N.J. (September 1986 to August 1987); associate attorney at the Law Office of John G. Hall (September 1987 to 1992); partner with John G. Hall (my father) and Julia Hall Perednia (my sister) in The Law Firm of Hall & Hall, LLP (1992 – current).
Community involvement: My most significant volunteer involvement has been in organizations related to my profession, such as: the Richmond County Bar Association (past president, former member of the board of directors, current chair of the Real Estate Committee, and member since 1987); New York State Bar Association (past chair of the Real Property Law Section [having approximately 5,000 attorney members statewide], Executive Committee member of the Real Property Law Section, past chair of the Real Estate Title and Transfer Committee, co-chair of Task Force on Title Agent Licensing, past member of the Banking Committee of the Business Law Section, and frequent lecturer at continuing legal education seminars [RCBA, NYSBA, Brooklyn Bar Association and other bar associations]; board member at the Staten Island YMCA, Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences, and the Stapleton Local Development Corp; member of the Georgetown University Alumni Admission Program for Staten Island (interviewed high school applicants to Georgetown University).
Some of my life goals include: Simply being the best person that I can be in all aspects of my life, and thereby having a positive impact on all: My family, my profession, my clients, my co-workers, my colleagues, and everyone whose path I may cross.
The best part of my job: Solving difficult issues for my clients by utilizing my extensive legal knowledge and broad range of experience.
The most difficult part of my job: It is really the same thing as the best part of my job. Generally speaking, clients bring to their lawyers problems they cannot solve themselves — whether it is a business problem, an estate problem, a real estate problem, or a family problem. Solving those problems for my clients is both the best – and most challenging – part of my job.
My life philosophy: Same as my goals — see above.
I am most proud of: First, my family. Second, providing top-quality legal services to all of our firm’s clients in a professional manner.
The quality I like best about myself: My ability to apply critical reasoning to any situation that crosses my path.
Personal interests and hobbies: I love to swim, especially at the beach. I am an avid skier. I enjoy golf (even though I am lousy at it).
I laugh at: Sarcastic humor.
I am really good at: Listening. Listening is almost a lost art these days, but I find taking the time to actively listen to family members, friends, co-workers and clients allows me to understand a situation from their perspective.
I admire: Anyone who values the ideals of our country and lives their life in a way that furthers those ideals. This includes millions of people I’ve never met and are not famous, but nevertheless work diligently every day in a decent and honest fashion to overcome whatever obstacle crosses their path.
Some important things I would like you to know about me: I am passionate about my profession as an attorney. I spend my time and energy to get to know my clients to provide the best legal service I can. I attend seminars to keep current in today’s ever-changing world. I also continuously work hard on making sure that our law firm utilizes the most up-to-date technology to provide our clients with the best possible product. I enjoy speaking at continuing legal education seminars because I believe it is important to give back to the profession, and I find that I always learn something in preparing for and speaking at a seminar.
Most importantly, I am passionate about my family. I consider it my highest obligation, and my greatest joy, to be there for my wife Gail, my children Katherine and her fiancé Chris, James and his wife Lauren, Joseph, and Anne.