The Suffolk Pro Bono Project is pleased to honor Joseph C. Tonetti as its Pro Bono Attorney of the Month. This is the second time Mr. Tonetti has received this honor. It is his recent work, representing a woman named as a co-defendant in a personal injury case that has earned Mr. Tonetti the honor once again. Mr. Tonetti has a solo, general negligence practice, Joseph C. Tonetti, P.C. in Smithtown. In addition to representing litigants (plaintiffs and defendants) in personal injury cases, Mr. Tonetti also serves as an arbitrator and mediator. He is a graduate of Rutgers University, where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts in 1972. He obtained his law degree from New York School of Law in 1978.
Immediately upon graduating law school, Mr. Tonetti was hired as a staff attorney for Suffolk County Legal Aid Society. He worked in Legal Aid’s criminal division. Two years later, he joined the Commack law firm, Cordes, Purcell, Fritz & Ingrao as an associate, where his career as a general negligence attorney began.
In 1981, he and John Cordes formed their own general negligence practice, Cordes & Tonetti. Upon Mr. Cordes’ passing in 1983, Mr. Tonetti partnered with John Hobbes and then Frank Ambrosino, before starting a solo practice in 2010.
Throughout his career, Joseph Tonetti has taken on a substantial amount of pro bono work, defending clients in personal injury cases free of charge. Some of that work over the past 13 years has been through the Pro Bono Project. His latest case with the Project involved representing a woman who had been named as a defendant in a wrongful death action. The client did not appear responsible for a very unfortunate death that had occurred. The client was a single mother of a severely disabled child and had very little income, no insurance, and no other means of paying for her legal defense. Mr. Tonetti did not hesitate when asked to take the case. Thanks to Mr. Tonetti’s advocacy, the plaintiff ultimately agreed to remove the client as a named defendant in the case.
“I do pro bono work because everyone deserves quality legal representation, but not everyone can afford it,” explains Tonetti. He adds, “If attorneys don’t engage in pro bono work, then people with meritorious claims won’t have access to the system. Without it, people become disenfranchised.”
Mr. Tonetti and his wife, a periodontist, have two children, ages 14 and 15. He also has two adult daughters. He enjoys playing golf in his free time.
The Pro Bono Project is grateful for the time and effort Mr. Tonetti has so generously devoted to pro bono work. We are pleased to honor him once again as the Pro Bono Attorney of the Month.
The Suffolk Pro Bono Project is a joint effort of Nassau Suffolk Law Services, the Suffolk County Bar Association and the Suffolk County Pro Bono Foundation, who, for many years, have joined resources toward the goal of providing free legal assistance to Suffolk County residents who are dealing with economic hardship. Nassau Suffolk Law Services is a non-profit civil legal services agency, providing free legal assistance to Long Islanders, primarily in the areas of benefits advocacy, homelessness prevention (foreclosure and eviction defense), access to health care, and services to special populations such as domestic violence victims, disabled, and adult home resident. The provision of free services is prioritized based on financial need and funding is often inadequate in these areas. Furthermore, there is no funding for the general provision of matrimonial or bankruptcy representation, therefore the demand for pro bono assistance is the greatest in these areas. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Ellen Krakow, Esq. 631 232-2400 x 3323.