NJ Division of Law To Celebrate 75 Year Anniversary

Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division of Law (DOL) announced today that DOL will commemorate 75 years of making a difference on behalf of New Jersey residents with a dinner and celebration the evening of June 5 at Hughes Justice Complex.

Billed as a celebration of DOL “Continuing the Tradition of Legal Excellence,” the event is scheduled to run from 4:30 p.m. through 7 p.m., according to reports.

Officials say that the evening will include distinguished DOL alumni, special guest speakers and other features, including an international buffet that includes food from several different national origins.

Attorneys and all others with a connection to DOL are invited to attend. Those interested in obtaining an invitation should contact DOL at dolanniversary@law.njoag.gov.

“For three-quarters of a century, the Division of Law has been home to some of New Jersey’s finest lawyers, and we’re excited to recognize their exceptional public service,” said Attorney General Grewal. “The Division’s lawyers often operate out of the limelight, quietly providing legal advice to state government officials on the most pressing issues of the day. But the impact and influence of the Division’s lawyers cannot be overstated, and I look forward to celebrating their history on June 5.”

“We are excited to welcome former Assistant and Deputy Attorneys General, support staff and administrators back to the Division of Law for this event. In many ways, this is like a family reunion,” said Division of Law Director Michelle Miller. “The Division of Law has been called ‘home’ by thousands of New Jersey’s brightest legal professionals. Those that served the Division in its first 75 years built its foundation of legal excellence and tireless dedication to the State. We look ahead to the future and continuing that tradition for the next 75 years and beyond.”

Founded in March 1944, DOL provides legal counsel and representation to agencies of State government as part of its statutory mission.

Reports say that DOL’s work touches on countless issues and concerns that inform the quality of life in New Jersey, including the protection of children from abuse and neglect, preservation of the State’s environmental resources, cyber privacy, ensuring the delivery of quality health care, protecting consumers and safeguarding the civil rights of all persons.

At any given time, the Division is responsible for handling approximately 30,000 legal matters pending in federal and state trial and appellate courts, as well as in administrative forums, officials say.

In 2018, DOL obtained more than $148 million on behalf of the State through settlements, judgments, and other litigation efforts, reports say. Those efforts included settlements and judgments resulting from environmental litigation, taxation matters, and legal action related to consumer, securities, and other types of fraud, as well as other debt recovery and affirmative litigation actions.

Officials say that DOL’s approximately 500 attorneys are organized within nine legal practice groups, which in turn are divided into 27 specialized sections.

That’s a far cry from the Division’s founding days in 1944, when the State’s new legal entity employed 13 Deputy Attorneys General and individual deputies earned such nicknames internally as “Mr. Fish and Game” or “Mr. Securities” by virtue of being assigned to represent entire agencies on their own, according to reports.

Further charting the many decades and changes through which DOL has served New Jersey residents, the Division currently occupies office space on several floors of the eight-story Hughes Justice Complex, as well as offices in Voorhees and Newark.

Originally, DOL was located on the second floor of the New Jersey State House Annex, which was then occupied by the State Museum.

“We were literally on top of the dinosaurs,” quipped DOL alumni and retired Superior Court Judge Paul G. Levy on the occasion of DOL’s 50th Anniversary celebration in 1994.

A written summary accompanying that 50th Anniversary celebration – held on March 10, 1994 -- referred to the fact that, in its fledgling days in the 1940s, DOL’s “office equipment was obviously rudimentary compared to today’s fax machines and word processors.”

Twenty-five years on, laptops, smartphones, and flash drives have become part of the furniture of DOL’s daily work, according to officials.

“The social, cultural and technological changes have come in leaps and bounds,” said Attorney General Grewal, “but one thing that has not changed over the decades is the high caliber of legal services provided by our Division of Law, and the high level of commitment to public service shown by our career DOL attorneys.”

Another thing that has not changed over time is DOL’s role as a spawning ground for public service attorneys who go on to distinguish themselves in other roles as members of the private bar, government and/or the judiciary.