Over the years, through economic booms and crises alike, Connell Foley has demonstrated the strength of its foundation through resilience and through the character and talent of the people who have joined our team. Our firm has maintained a collegial atmosphere and a personal approach to the practice of law, providing clients with individually tailored service to meet a vast array of legal and business challenges.
Founding & Early History
Connell Foley was established in 1938 by Edward Duggan and Robert Shaw, the latter being a highly regarded trial and appellate lawyer who was named to the federal bench in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy.
The firm’s first period of growth occurred after World War II, when John A. “Jack” Pindar joined the firm after returning to civilian life, shortly thereafter becoming a named partner. Generally regarded by the judiciary and his peers as one of New Jersey’s finest trial lawyers, Mr. Pindar exercised a heavy influence on our firm’s culture that has lasted to the present day. Our regional and national reputation for integrity, quality of legal representation, legal acumen, and collegiality emerged during the 1960s and owed much to the vision of Mr. Pindar. Together with George “Walt” Connell, William T. “Bill” McElroy (who joined the firm in 1950), and Adrian “Bud” Foley, Jr. (who joined the firm in 1958), Connell Foley enjoyed a reputation as an elite litigation firm that possessed unquestioned integrity. Bill McElroy and Bud Foley would join Jack Pindar as early fellows of the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers.
The firm’s early history – and its enduring legacy – was shaped by the luminaries who made Connell Foley their home. The firm’s top lawyers during this period held a number of high-profile positions within the New Jersey legal and political community. For instance, Walt Connell’s expertise in litigation and insurance law led to his appointment to the commission charged with examining New Jersey’s automobile insurance system. Today’s no-fault law was the product of the working group sessions to which Walt contributed his expertise.
Bill McElroy was appointed to the Superior Court bench in the late 1970s and achieved recognition for his judicial excellence such that Chief Justice Robert Wilentz appointed him to the Appellate Division within a few years after he began serving on the court. At the time of his death, the New Jersey Commission on Professionalism in the Law memorialized his career, stating that “[h]is contributions to the law were substantial” and that “[h]e was widely recognized as the quintessential professional.”
Adrian Foley joined the firm after serving as Essex County Surrogate from 1954 to 1958. He served as President of New Jersey State Bar Association in 1964 and 1965 and in 1966 was elected President of the State of New Jersey’s Fourth Constitutional Convention. He was one of the first Chairmen of the ABA Section on Litigation and Chairman of the ABA Initial Commission on Advertising as well as Commissioner of the Select Committee on Constitutional Convention. He was the state delegate for the State of New Jersey in the House of Delegates of the ABA. He was a member of the Board of Governors of the ABA and Chairman of Programs of that Board. He also served as Director of the American Judicature Society and is a permanent delegate to the Third Circuit Judicial Conference.
Shortly after the death of Jack Pindar in December 1969, Richard J. Hughes joined the firm upon completing his second term as Governor of the State of New Jersey. Although he had offers from many firms, Governor Hughes chose to join our firm, which at that time became Hughes, McElroy, Connell & Foley. In 1973 Governor Hughes was appointed as Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court by his successor who, although of another political party, recognized the intellectual qualities, legal stature, and integrity that has been a hallmark of this firm since its inception.
From Local to Regional and National
Expanding from its initial offices in Newark, Connell Foley moved to Roseland to accommodate growth of its legal team and then expanded into additional offices in the Tri-State area. The firm evolved from its early focus on the insurance industry into a multifaceted firm with 20 practice areas. With some of the most respected trial lawyers known regionally and nationally for their handling of significant cases in various practice areas, the firm has achieved elite status with our work in environmental, patent, information technology, professional malpractice, construction, and real estate law.
Faced with an increasingly complex legal environment – where overlapping federal, state, and municipal legislation and regulation create significant challenges for businesses of all sizes – Connell Foley from an early period stressed the value of teamwork. Our success has been predicated on an ability to work together seamlessly, providing clients with excellent legal advice and a comprehensive point of service.
This team orientation, so vital to the working of today’s law firms, has been a hallmark of Connell Foley from the earliest days of the partnership. Jack Pindar, Walt Connell, Bill McElroy, and Adrian Foley nurtured a philosophy that regarded individual accomplishments as firm successes, much like an athlete’s performance contributes to a team victory. At the same time, they encouraged those under their management to dream, set goals for themselves, and, then, step by step, make each goal a reality.
Changing City Landscapes
Connell Foley has revitalized cities and communities through its involvement in major real estate projects in counties throughout New Jersey and New York – from the urban enclaves of Jersey City to the suburban shopping hubs, such as the Bridgewater Commons Mall, and the glimmering southern shore icon of Atlantic City.
In Jersey City, our attorneys were instrumental to the construction of the towering buildings on the waterfront. To date, we have been engaged in nearly every major project constructed in the City, and we have responded by meeting the City’s desire to preserve a deep cultural heritage – including its architectural and industrial history – in light of an aging infrastructure and dense population.
For the last four decades, Connell Foley attorneys have been commissioned in a multitude of Atlantic City projects as counsel to the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA). A transformed downtown area comprising new buildings and infrastructure is home to the Atlantic City Convention Center Headquarters Hotel and the Sandcastle Baseball Stadium, major housing developments, and the “Walk,” a significant retail commercial development.
True Leadership, Committed Leaders
Since its founding, Connell Foley has always directed its efforts towards improving the delivery of justice and maintaining high standards and ethics in the practice of law, with many of its members coming from and moving to leadership positions in local, state, and federal agencies, courts, and associations. Some key roles include president of New Jersey’s Fourth Constitutional Convention and appointee to the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation, charged with looking at cases of organized crime, corruption, and the waste and abuse of taxpayer funds.
The Supreme Court of New Jersey has designated 10 of the lawyers in the firm as Certified Civil Trial Lawyers, and many of our attorneys have been honored by the American College of Trial Lawyers, the American Board of Trial Advocates, and the International Association of Defense Counsel.
This distinguished reputation for quality continues to attract top practitioners to Connell Foley. The firm’s ranks have been enhanced by a former New Jersey state governor and deeply experienced judges, who determined that Connell Foley was the “best” or “the only” choice for them to continue to practice. How much people enjoy working on our team is best demonstrated by the sheer number of attorneys at the firm who spend their entire careers with Connell Foley – some for over 50 years.
With a culture of mutual respect, acceptance, and inclusiveness, Connell Foley has been committed to promoting a diverse workforce long before the practice became the industry standard. Our dedication to grow a diverse team has developed a rich workforce that gains strength and skill from its diversity. A great number of women have achieved leadership roles and positions on the executive committee and other boards including an early partner who became the first woman appointed to the Appellate Division of the State of New Jersey.
The core values of the firm have always focused on our team; during economic downturn, the firm maintained its numbers when staff reductions became the norm, preserving its most important assets – our people.
Commitment and Support to Community
Over the years, Connell Foley – as a firm and through individual attorneys – has supported numerous nonprofit and academic organizations throughout the region. For instance, we are long-time supporters of Rebuilding Together – Jersey City, one of the nation’s largest non-profit community revitalization programs. Every year, Connell Foley’s attorneys and staff volunteer their time to rebuild Jersey City’s institutions and residences in need, including projects such as Camp Liberty, Women Rising, the Boys and Girls Club, and St. Lucy’s Homeless Shelter. We also support the Corporate Internship Program (CIP) at Christ the King Preparatory High School in Newark, which allows students to gain real-world job experience at Connell Foley. Other important concerns of our firm include the Jersey Shore Rescue Mission, a cause of the Market Street Mission in Morristown, N.J., and Turning Point in Cedar Grove, offering substance abuse treatment for indigent clients.
Connell Foley attorneys have served on the boards of trustees for educational institutions including Seton Hall University, Notre Dame Law School, Columbia Law School, Georgetown University, and St. Peter’s College, among many others. Connell Foley partnered with Rutgers University School of Law – Newark to create a Connell Foley scholarship which provides financial support and individual mentoring to a minority law student who works as a summer associate; a $100,000 Connell Foley Endowing Scholarship to Seton Hall University Law School has been established.