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Raising The Bar: Hankin Sandman Palladino & Weintrob

"The great thing about being a lawyer is that you learn something new every day and can use that knowledge to benefit others." -Steve Hankin


For almost 50 years, Steve Hankin’s Atlantic City office, in a long since abandoned county courthouse, has witnessed some of the region’s most fascinating, highly publicized cases.  As the founding partner of Hankin Sandman Palladino & Weintrob, Steve has become one of New Jersey’s top appellate, complex commercial, land use, environmental and real estate development attorneys.  After trying a series of murder and other serious criminal cases, appearing before New Jersey’s Supreme Court, litigating as co-counsel with the famed F. Lee Bailey, representing Mercedes Benz of North America, automobile dealers and wholesalers, boating manufacturers, large developers, casinos, and authoring some 14 New Jersey Law Journal articles, Steve continues to enjoy a phenomenal career.   

“I moved from my hometown of Bridgeton to Atlantic City in 1971 because I wanted to practice where I wanted to live and have been fortunate to be here ever since,” said Hankin.  He attributes the longevity of his practice to an intellectual curiosity, dedication, and desire to help “the guy on the street” in addition to the well heeled. His belief in the saying, “The law is a jealous mistress,” leads him to constantly stay on the cutting edge of the law.  “The great thing about being a lawyer is that you learn something new every day and can use that knowledge to benefit others,” he said.    

Hankin is joined by partners Robert Sandman, John Palladino and Amy Weintrob, all leaders in their own practice areas, who have led the firm to double its footprint while bolstering its reputation as “the best of the best” in numerous legal specialties. Now occupying three full floors of the historic courthouse, the firm will shortly consist of nine attorneys and nearly a dozen support staff. 

“This is the only legal job I have ever had,” said Robert Sandman, a certified civil trial attorney specializing in personal injury cases. “I have been here since 1982 and can’t imagine being anywhere else.”  Highly regarded as one of south Jersey’s top personal injury attorneys, Sandman is just as adept at the practice of municipal law. The son of the late Congressman Charles Sandman, Sandman has deep ties in Cape May County, where the firm maintains a satellite office to meet with local clients.

John Palladino, the firm’s manager, was born and raised in Ventnor.  He heads the firm’s construction practice which occupies the building’s entire second floor. A top construction litigator and counsel to many of the largest contractors in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Palladino handles cases in which literally hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake.  “My clients build the roads, bridges, schools, casinos, hotels, and public buildings we use every day,” said Palladino, “It is extraordinarily gratifying that when they have a problem, they turn to me to help solve it.”  Given the large volume of documents and other evidence involved in modern construction cases, Palladino has integrated a state-of-the-art, nearly paperless case management system that allows thorough, efficient, and cost-effective handling of cases.  “Technologically, we are on par or more advanced than some of the state’s largest firms.  We take pride in that and constantly work to stay ahead of the curve,” said Palladino.

Rounding out the partners is veteran family law and criminal litigator, Amy Weintrob.  Another Ventnor native, Weintrob has built a reputation as one of the region’s most feared divorce and custody attorneys.  Having cut her teeth as a public defender before moving to private practice, Weintrob has the zeal and swagger of a trial veteran combined with the empathy and compassion required for sensitive family cases.  “A divorce or custody case is the most difficult and high-stakes matter a person can encounter in our legal system,” said Weintrob.  “You have to be ready to address a client’s emotional needs and concerns, while fighting with everything you have to obtain the best possible result in court.”  Though she handles cases of all shapes and sizes, Weintrob excels at the intersection of business and family law, having cultivated a network of top-notch accountants and financial experts to assist her clients when necessary. Consequently, she is often hired by individuals with successful family businesses that must be valued or sold in divorce cases, complicated endeavors that few other family attorneys in the area can handle. 

The firm’s other veterans are Colin Bell and Evan Labov.  Just 36, Bell has already established a reputation as a top-level civil litigator and trial attorney.  A former Assistant Atlantic County Prosecutor, Bell now focuses on construction, commercial, and employment litigation, earning recognition as one of the state’s “New Leaders of the Bar,” according to the New Jersey Law Journal, as well as a certified civil trial attorney designation.  Active politically, he has served as a member of the Atlantic County Board of Chosen Freeholders and deputy vice chair of a state political party.  Labov, a 2012 graduate of George Mason University School of Law, displays an expertise well beyond his years, focusing on construction and commercial litigation, including complex appellate work before the New Jersey Appellate Division and Supreme Court.   

Hankin points out that the firm could not succeed without the brilliance and aid of all of the partners, associates and legal support staff, including firm administrator Fran McNellis, who joined the organization 28 years ago. “Our goal has always been a collegial, team environment where everyone works together to focus on achieving the best possible result for the client,” Hankin explained. “We eat lunch together every day, discussing our cases and issues, and we speak at night and on weekends, almost living together.”

From Hankin’s top floor office, he can watch Atlantic City’s rebirth, from the ongoing construction at the former Showboat and Taj Mahal Casino and the Steel Pier observation wheel to the Gateway Project that will bring Stockton University and South Jersey Gas to the city.  While the firm supports and applauds those developments, there is one thing Hankin, his partners and staff hope will remain unchanged: “That we will always remain together and be part of Atlantic City’s legacy.”