Becoming a lawyer must have been in Steve Wolfe’s DNA. His father was an attorney who practiced law in Manhattan and his mother graduated from law school when she was only nineteen. He had two older first cousins who were lawyers, one of whom became the General Counsel and then the Secretary of one of the world’s largest publicly-held corporations.
Steve started college at Cornell at age 16, majoring in Math and Physics, after turning down a Ford Foundation scholarship to attend the University of Wisconsin at age 15. After two years, he switched his major to History and graduated from Adelphi University. He then graduated from Columbia Law School at age 23. There followed six months of active duty in the Army, where, trained as a medic, he became an operating room technician and assisted at a number of surgical procedures. Later, in the Army Reserve, he was commissioned as a first lieutenant in the Judge Advocate General Corps. When his active duty was completed, he started his career in the practice of law, which has involved him in a wide range of activities.
Among the areas in which he practices now are estate work including estate litigation, civil litigation, including matrimonial litigation and pre- and post-nuptial agreements, and transactional work. In the area of wills and trusts litigation, Steve obtained a unanimous reversal on appeal of a Surrogate’s decision which refused to probate the Will of a non-resident who had property in New York. Steve represents many estate fiduciaries and currently serves as the trustee of four testamentary trusts.
Steve has successfully handled many domestic relations matters. He obtained summary judgment for a widow on a wrongful death claim brought by her stepchildren alleging she murdered her husband, in an effort to disinherit her from receiving millions in jointly-owned property. He established the validity, in a divorce action, of a settlement stipulation reached not in open court but in the judge’s chambers. He obtained a determination that a wife, relying on her spousal privilege, could refuse to testify about her husband’s whereabouts on the ground that it was a confidential communication.
Steve has handled numerous commercial/tort matters. For example, he obtained summary judgment for a cable television company in an action claiming it negligently placed its cable on the outside of an apartment house, enabling an intruder to climb the cable, enter an apartment and assault an occupant. Steve also handles transactional work ranging from the drafting and reviewing of commercial contracts to handling real estate transactions for his corporate and individual clients.
Steve handles high profile legal ethics matters, as well. He successfully resolved through mediation a legal malpractice claim against one of New York City’s largest law firms. He defended a well known attorney before the Disciplinary Committee, preventing her automatic disbarment. In 1991 the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals appointed him to serve on the Judicial Commission on Minorities, the Commission’s mandate being to ascertain whether minorities were fairly treated within the judicial system. In the Executive Summary of its report, he was noted as one of the members who had made significant contributions to the writing and editing of the report.