The Suffolk Pro Bono Project is pleased to honor Donald R. Sallah as Pro Bono Attorney of the Month. Mr. Sallah is one of the Pro Bono Project’s most dedicated and enduring matrimonial attorneys, having provided pro bono services for over twenty years. In the last ten years, Mr. Sallah has provided nearly 500 hours of pro bono service. A several times past recipient of this award, Mr. Sallah’s recent work on behalf of the Suffolk Pro Bono Project’s clients has earned him this distinction once more.
Over the past four years, Mr. Sallah accepted four matrimonial cases from the Pro Bono Project. One matter was a divorce case involving simultaneous proceedings in Family Court. Due to contested child custody issues regarding the couples’s two young children, the case went on for nearly two years before it finally settled. Thanks to Mr. Sallah’s efforts, his client, the mother of the two children, obtained sole custody and maintenance. In another of Mr. Sallah’s recent pro bono cases, he represented a woman with disabilities whose husband had sued her for divorce. Mr. Sallah was able to achieve a legal separation for his client in lieu of divorce. Under the terms of the separation agreement, his client was allowed to remain on her spouse’s health insurance plan, which was her most critical need. Mr. Sallah, the son of a lawyer, received his B.A. from Adelphi University in 1967. He attended law school at St. John’s University School of Law as a night student, and obtained his J.D. in 1972. Mr. Sallah began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney. In 1975, he started his own firm, The Sallah Law Firm, in Holtsville, where he continues to practice today. The firm’s concentration has been matrimonial and family law since 1980. Donald Sallah’s son, Dean J. Sallah, followed his father’s cue, obtaining a law degree from St. John’s and joining his father’s law practice in 1996. The elder Sallah and his wife have six children in all. Three have legal careers of their own. One is a corrections officer, and two are still in school. Mr. Sallah’s practice involves a substantial amount of trial work. Typically, he is in trial two to three days a week. He has tried cases in all five 5 boroughs of New York City, seven upstate counties, Connecticut, Florida, South Carolina, and Michigan. As compared to these other regions off Long Island, Mr. Sallah describes the Long Island matrimonial bar as “top shelf.” When asked how he feels about the present state of his practice, Mr. Sallah responded, “It’s a pleasure doing matrimonial law on Long Island. Everyone in the system, from the attorneys, to the judges, to the court clerks, is so friendly and so good at what they do.”
Not only a successful attorney, Mr. Sallah is also a talented musician. Before attending law school, Mr. Sallah had an impressive career in the 50's and 60's as a guitarist and vocalist with rock bands that toured the East Coast and recorded their own music. In fact, in the 1960's Mr. Sallah’s band had a song on the charts in Massachusetts for a time. His band’s sound has been described as veering between garage band rock and Dylanesque folk rock. During his music career, Mr. Sallah played with such greats as Chuck Berry and Billy Joel.
Mr. Sallah’s history of community service is not limited to pro bono legal representation. He also has lectured numerous times for the Suffolk County Academy of Law on a variety of topics pertaining to matrimonial law. In addition, he has been both a volunteer firefighter and commissioner for the Holtsville Fire Department.
Asked why pro bono work has been a constant part of his long legal career, Mr. Sallah responded, “I like to give back to the community. I’ve done well, and I love what I do. So I’m happy to take pro bono cases.” Ellen Krakow, Coordinator of the Suffolk Pro Bono Project, said, “We are so fortunate to have generous and talented attorneys like Mr. Sallah involved in the Pro Bono Project. Don is an inspiration to other attorneys interested in giving back.”
The Pro Bono Project is indebted to Mr. Sallah for his decades-long, unwavering dedication to helping the less fortunate on Long Island. We are delighted to honor him once again as 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 funded primarily by the Legal Services Corporation to provide 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.