Jack Zeldes Left Behind A Successful Firm And Many Admirers
"As I watched him over the years, I saw that Jack treated everyone this way, he made everyone feel like they mattered. And the incredible thing is that everyone did matter to Jack."
Zeldes' firm never grew to be particularly large. The website currently lists about 20 attorneys, and most years it has hovered near the lower fringe of the Law Tribune's annual list of the state's 25 largest law firms, ranked by gross revenue. The firm makes no apologies for its size, using the slogan, "Large firm capabilities...small firm responsiveness."
But even if his firm was giant-sized, Zeldes was regarded a giant of the bar. In an editorial in this week's edition (see page 37), the Law Tribune's Editorial Board noted that Zeldes was so well respected statewide that in 1983 he was chosen by the Connecticut House of Representatives to represent a Select Committee in the first impeachment proceeding ever to have been initiated against a Connecticut judge. He was also chosen as lead plaintiff in Jacob D. Zeldes, et al v. M. Jodi Rell, et al, a 2009 class action launched by leaders of the Connecticut bar when then-Governor Rell attempted to take $2 million from the state's Client Security Fund and transfer it to the General Fund as part of a larger effort to address a state budget deficit.
Ecker and Ernie Teitell, of Silver Golub & Teitell, handled the Rell case. According to Ecker, they "represented a group of about 10 prominent lawyers as plaintiffs, people like Hugh Keefe, Willie Dow, Bill Davis, Hubert Santos, Hope Seeley, [and] Fred Ury. Originally we had listed the plaintiffs alphabetically, but the group wanted Jack listed first, in recognition of his undisputed role as the dean of the Connecticut bar."
David Atkins, who practiced at Zeldes, Needle & Cooper from 1984 to 2007, said his former boss felt no need to be in the limelight. "He was a happy warrior, never discouraged by the long odds many of his clients faced. He relished the challenge of improving those odds by pushing back arbitrary or outdated boundaries of the law, and doing so with flair and creativity," said Atkins, now at Pullman & Comley. "And as those who worked with him can attest, the ride he took us on always was a lot of fun."•