The Year 2009 marks an historic milestone for the law firm of Pellettieri Rabstein
& Altman - its 80th year anniversary.
Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman, fondly known as "PR&A," takes great pride in the legal
expertise and acumen of its attorneys as well as its service oriented approach to
clients. "We provide our clients the same quality, resources and support offered
by the largest law firms in the State, while at the same time giving them the personal
time and attention one would expect from a small hometown law firm," stated John
Hartmann, III, one of the firm's managing partners.
Considering PR&A's roots and history, it is not surprising that the firm operates
as it does, but it is indeed remarkable to see how far PR&A has come. Founded by
an eager young lawyer George Pellettieri, Sr. in 1929, the firm began as a general
law practice in the Broad Street Bank Building in Trenton. And "general" it surely was: George Pellettieri, Sr. took any and every case offered to him. The
trained actor/opera singer, known as "the judge" to friends, acquaintances and those
who worked with him, gained a reputation as one of the most colorful and aggressive
attorneys in Mercer County.
In 1934, George Pellettieri, Sr. was joined by attorney Ruth Rabstein, who would
years later become his wife. Ruth was one of a handful of women attorneys in New
Jersey at the time. She was a progressive thinker from a social justice point of
view, and that, combined with her creative legal thinking, would shape the direction
of the firm as well as the body of law of the State of New Jersey.
Ruth and George, Sr. were indeed a potent team. George, Sr. was the zealous litigator,
while Ruth was generally considered "the brains" of the operation. Pellettieri and
Rabstein soon earned the reputation of a firm that represented the men and women
of our community, and not institutions.
Ruth devoted much of her time for years to representing working men and women. She
became known as the Dean of the New Jersey Worker's Compensation Bar. Ruth Rabstein
was the attorney for the employee in numerous landmark cases that made law expanding
worker's rights and remedies.
George, Sr. and Ruth were committed to trying to help everyone - whether or not the
client had money to pay a fee. That philosophy did not always make for a profitable
law firm. Remarkably, they serviced clients during the Great Depression in exchange
for chickens, homemade pies and other goods and services.
For more than a decade, Ruth Rabstein worked tirelessly on the infamous "Trenton
6" appeal and retrial. That case, which received national and international attention,
involved six African American men who were convicted of murdering an elderly white
shopkeeper and sentenced to death. With the help of Ruth, the NAACP and many others,
the six men received a new trial in 1951 after the New Jersey Supreme Court declared
that they had not received a fair trial. Ruth Rabstein had the great fortune of
working alongside future United States Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall on
the "Trenton 6" case.
In the late 1950's, George Pellettieri, Sr. and Ruth Rabstein married. Not long thereafter,
George's son by his first marriage, George Pellettieri, Jr., joined the firm. George,
Jr. quickly earned the distinction of being called one of the finest trial lawyers
in New Jersey. In fact, George, Jr. was so feared by his adversaries that the Mercer
County Prosecutor's Office released a memo called "How to Beat George Pellettieri,
Once George, Jr. joined the firm, loud conflicts, some with objects flying through
the air, were occasionally the order of business at the offices of the law firm
because father and son exhibited the same strong and flamboyant personalities. Nevertheless,
the three-way partnership among George, Sr., George, Jr. and Ruth was a successful
In 1968, Pellettieri and Rabstein relocated to a new state-of-the-art office building
on Front Street in Trenton, where George Sr. and George, Jr. continued their office
relationship of chaotic harmony. This approach, it is said, fine tuned young George's
abilities as a trial attorney.
However, all was not well with George, Jr. He long suffered from a serious chronic
stomach problem. That condition worsened over time and despite multiple surgeries,
George Pellettieri, Jr. passed away in 1973 at the young age of 39.
With the death of George, Jr., who was being counted on to continue the firm, George,
Sr. and Ruth looked outside the confines of their family for legal talent to carry
on the firm. Attorney Ira Miller joined Pellettieri and Rabstein in the early 1970s
and spent his entire career there representing workers, unions, central labor organizations
and employee benefit funds in Central New Jersey. With the addition of John Hartmann,
III in 1978, the family law department of Pellettieri and Rabstein was born. John
carried on his practice from P&R's new Princeton satellite office at 199 Nassau
Street. Richard Altman, who added commercial litigation to the array of PR&A practice
areas, joined the firm just a year later and the partnership of George Pellettieri,
Sr., Ruth Rabstein, Richard Altman, Ira Miller, and John Hartmann, III, known as
Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman, made its debut.
In the late 70's and early 80's, PR&A added the attorneys who now are the senior
partners of the law firm: Bruce Miller (workers' compensation), Andrew Rockman (medical
malpractice), Edward Slaughter (accident and injury), Anne McHugh (commercial and
accident and injury), Gary Adams (workers' compensation) and Neal Solomon (commercial
and estate litigation). The firm thereafter continued to add legal talent to expand
and improve service to its clients, never losing sight, however, of the original
"people-based" practice approach.
In 1988 the firm consolidated the Trenton, Princeton and Hamilton offices at its
current convenient location on Route 1 near Quaker Bridge Mall. A Mount Holly office
was added in the late 1980's (which was recently relocated to Mt. Laurel).
Even though it seems that the Central New Jersey area is now overflowing with attorneys,
Pellettieri, Rabstein & Altman has continued to stand out from the pack because
of its long history of success. A testament to PR&A's devotion to its clients is
the fact that a substantial percentage of their business comes from former clients
as well as new clients referred by former or existing clients.
Significantly, many law firms, inside and outside of Mercer County, ask PR&A to litigate
major cases for them because PR&A specializes in trial work, as evidenced by the
firm's slogan, "GOING TO COURT IS HARDBALL!"
Today, Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman employs 35 attorneys and has a support staff
of 70. They have offices in Princeton, Mt. Laurel and Nutley, NJ as well as Newtown, PA. However, despite their size, PR&A has not lost sight of the mission of its founders,
Ruth and George, Sr., to serve people of all economic backgrounds.