Sokol Behot, a 14-attorney practice based in Hackensack, with an office on Nassau Street, has been purchased by New York-based Cullen and Dykman, a regional firm with an office in Newark. The Princeton office will remain open under the Cullen and Dykman name, say representatives for Cullen.
Behot was founded in 1975 in Trenton, and was formerly called Sokol, Behot & Fiorenzo, changing its name when a partner left. It moved to a former house on Nassau Street 20 years ago.
Neil Yoskin, who has been with the firm for 35 years and a partner for the last decade, says that Sokol had been approached many times by headhunters looking for a merger, but Cullen Dykman was the first one that seemed like a good fit. “The firm has a similar culture and philosophy to us,” he says. “Both firms are very pragmatic, solution-based firms. Some firms can throw lawyers at files and spend enormous amounts of clients’ money, while others are solution oriented.”
Galete Levin, of Dykman, says the firms have many overlapping practice areas, focusing on corporate regulatory work, with Dykman having a particularly strong banking group. Behot, meanwhile, has an environmental group, chaired by Yoskin, that he says will mesh well with the combined company, since real estate transactions often have environmental components to them. “You cannot build capital projects without environmental issues,” he says.
Both Yoskin, who will remain at the Princeton office, and Levin, who will work there part of the time, have ties to the Princeton area.
Yoskin grew up in Philadelphia, where his father was in the candy business, which he says was as fun for a kid as it sounds. He went to college at the University of Virginia and law school at Temple, beginning his legal career specializing in environmental and coastal law for the state Department of Environmental Protection. When he left the DEP for private practice, he also moved to Lawrenceville, where he now lives, and raised his now adult son.
Levin grew up in Lawrenceville, where her mother is a nurse and her father owns the Red Onion Deli on Nassau Street. Levin, a graduate of Brandeis, earned her law degree at Brooklyn Law School. She has been with Cullen Dykman for her entire 13-year legal career, specializing in representing real estate lenders and financial institutions, especially mortgage lenders. “This has been a fantastic place to work,” she says.
According to Levin, Cullen Dykman has been looking for a Princeton presence for some time, following a long tradition of law firms from New York and Philadelphia opening offices there. Absorbing an established local firm is a way of doing that while gaining relationships with local clients.
“We’ve done a lot of work for the municipality and work for the university, so I think that makes it easy for Cullen Dykman to integrate itself into the Princeton community,” Yoskin says.
Cullen and Dykman, 229 Nassau Street, Princeton 08542. 609-279-0900. Neil Yoskin, partner. www.cullenanddykman.com.