For the past 27 years, Henry Elstein and his son have worked side by side in their commercial litigation and real estate practice in Bridgeport.
"It's been a very good fit," Elstein said, referring to the practice he's built with his son, Bruce Elstein. "To begin with, we know each of other very well. And my son, he's become a very fine lawyer."
But after all that time, they were looking for a chance to provide their clients with a wider range of services that a larger firm can provide. "We were looking for new opportunities," Bruce Elstein said. "I wanted to reenergize my practice."
With that in mind, father and son are together joining the larger Norwalk-based law firm of Goldman, Gruder & Woods, effective Sept. 1. The addition of the Henry and Bruce Elstein will allow an expansion of its Trumbull office, and increase to 15 the number of its attorneys, founding partner Michael Goldman said.
"We're thrilled that the principals of Elstein and Elstein are joining us," Goldman said. "The addition of these well-known attorneys will significantly increase our presence in the region and allow us to serve an expanding client base."
Henry Elstein of Southport graduated from Yale Law School in 1959 and began practicing law that same year. His practice over the years was built on real estate and corporate transactions, including the purchase and sale of many businesses in the Bridgeport area.
When his son graduated from Hofstra University School of Law in 1986, the two began working together. They were part of a larger group of lawyers at first, but went out on their own shortly after the younger Elstein joined. Bruce Elstein's practice has primarily involved construction law, injury law and other types of litigation.
"My father was never one to suggest a career path for me, but he was very supportive of whatever path I took," Bruce Elstein said. "What I liked about the law, was there was always something new and challenging to learn."
Once he joined his father's practice, Elstein said he would handle matters in court, while his father was more inclined to work on contracts and transactions in the office. They developed a system of working together where "we knew what each other was thinking," he said.
"My father taught me to be proud of my work. My dad is a very respected person, and he always insisted that you apply yourself in a way that would make you proud when you finished whatever work you were doing. He taught me to take the time to do things right, and not to cut corners."
"He was a very good learner," the elder Elstein said. "He learned a few things from his parents, important things, and he won some sizable cases."
The younger Elstein knew Goldman from the time they were children. "We have played tennis together for years," he said. When they discussed a merger of the smaller family firm into the larger Goldman firm, Elstein said it was very important that he would be able to continue working with his father.
"I wouldn't have been able to make the move if he wasn't part of it," he said.
To accommodate the new growth at Goldman, Gruder & Wood's presence in eastern Fairfield County, Goldman said they have added office space to their leased Trumbull office on Technology Drive. The office now has office space for five lawyers, six support staff and a conference room.
"Our firm has needed to expand, based on the fact that we're growing out client base," said Goldman. Last year, the firm hired Stephen Wright, a partner whose practice includes commercial litigation, bankruptcy law and debtors' rights matters. Goldman said he expects that Bruce Elstein's personal injury and trial practice will fit nicely with Wright's practice.
"We've always handled personal injury work, but the goal now is to do much more injury work, which Bruce is really great at," he said.
As for father and son, they will continue to enjoy working closely together. In their new Trumbull location, their offices are right next to one another, just as they were in Bridgeport. "If my father is on the phone and I want to get his attention, I can crumble up a piece of paper and throw it at him," Bruce Elstein said. "Just like old times."