FOUNDING PARTNER: TERRY RIDLEY, ESQ (1956-2012)
Founded in 1995, and with the hard work and dedication provided by Terry, the law firm of Hunt, Hamlin & Ridley grew to become highly successful and is now recognized as the largest black-owned law firm in the state of New Jersey.
Terry’s accomplishments date back to his roots as a young man growing up in Lafayette Gardens, Jersey City, NJ. While attending Lincoln High School, he received a scholarship from A Better Chance, Inc. to attend Vermont Academy, a private boarding school in Saxton River, Vermont. After graduating from Vermont Academy, Terry attended the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vermont where he graduated in 1979 with a BS degree in History and Secondary Education.
Dedicated to broadening his educational opportunities and applying his intellect, Terry received a scholarship and a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia in 1981. Simultaneously, while attending V.C.U., Terry was employed as an Economic Development Assistant for the City of Richmond’s Economic Development Office, where he was able to cultivate his skills as a planner.
Closer to home, Terry moved back to New Jersey and attended Rutgers Law School in Newark, NJ, as a part-time evening student while working as a law clerk at the law firm of Ashley & Charles, Esq. It was during that time that Terry researched and collaborated with Joseph Charles, Esq. in the submission of Appellate and Supreme Court briefs in the case of State v. Novembrino, 105 N.J. 95 (1987). This case explicitly recognized that the state’s constitution is more protective and can be more protective of individual rights than the federal constitution.
After graduating from Rutgers and upon admission to the NJ Bar, he began his career as an Assistant Prosecutor in the Office of the Hudson County Prosecutor in Jersey City, NJ. There, Terry handled a variety of criminal matters and also acquired substantial trial experience.
After three years with the prosecutor’s office, Terry returned to Ashley & Charles as an Associate and soon thereafter began working with his soon-to-be law partners, Ronald Hunt and Raymond Hamlin.
However before the firm was founded, Terry continued to broaden his horizons and in October 1991, he left Ashley & Charles and took a Senior Associate position with the Housing Authority of the City of Newark.
While at the housing authority, Terry handled major litigation involving construction contract claims, civil rights violations and real estate matters. In addition, Terry functioned as the Authority’s labor counsel, representing the Authority in all labor negotiations and matters before PERC and OAL.
Adding to his long list of personal and professional accomplishments, at the Housing Authority, Terry was lead counsel in a lawsuit filed against the authority in which the federal government was seeking federal receivership, and accusing the authority of failing to live up to its mandate of providing “safe, decent and affordable” housing. Terry successfully navigated the case and, not only avoided the Authority from being placed in receivership, it was allowed to demolish structurally obsolescent high-rises and implement new construction of 1,777 low-rise public housing units.
After founding the law firm of Hunt, Hamlin and Ridley (HHR), Terry continued to enjoy many highlights throughout his legal career making headlines and legal precedents while at his own firm.
At HHR, Terry received jury verdicts and settlements ranging from $3.9 million dollars in a breach of contract case; $3.25 million in a personal injury case; $1.52 million in an employment discrimination/civil rights case; $500,000.00 in a hostile work environment case; and $500,000.00 in an instantaneous death case; just to name a few.
He served as underwriter’s counsel in the issuance of bonds for several municipalities totaling well over $100 million. He represented developers of both commercial and real estate projects, especially in the affordable housing arena and he successfully represented individuals charged with criminal offenses in both state and federal courts. Terry served as; special counsel to the Hillside planning and zoning boards; redevelopment counsel for the Township Of Orange; special counsel to the Newark Housing Authority; redevelopment counsel to the Long Branch Housing Authority; and as General Counsel to Jersey City Housing Authority, Irvington Housing authority, and East Orange Housing Authority.
Terry was a member of the American Bar Association, the NJ State Bar Associations, American Association for Justice (formerly ATLA), Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers of NJ, National Bar Association and the Garden State Bar Association and was a former trustee of the Hudson County Bar Association.
Terry’s legacy at the firm included mentoring and recruiting skilled attorney’s who he believed had the dedication and desire to do the best they could for their clients.
In his life-time, Terry made his mark having helped thousands of people in the state of NJ through his distinguished career as an accomplished attorney. Many would describe Terry as a kind man with a very generous heart who used his intellect to produce positive results for his clients. Most became friends and admirers of Terry after experiencing his tenacity and dedication to their cause.
Terry passed away on November 22, 2012. Wife Sekina Rodgers, two daughters, and his partners Ron Hunt and Ray Hamlin and their families survive him.