Margate resident Andrew Imperiale, 26, doesn't have many negative things to say about his hometown or state, except for the months he spent waiting for his New Jersey Bar Exam results.
The one-time supplier of dry ice and ice cream varieties on the local beaches now finds himself with a certification to practice law and a small office building on Ventnor Avenue in Ventnor, squeezed between the local veterinarian and an accountant's office.
The Barry University of Law graduate is going solo and prepared for any challenge his downbeach neighbors may have.
"I'm not into that crazy corporate (work)," the 2005 Holy Spirit High School graduate said. "I just like the fact that I am like a neighborhood lawyer, almost like a country doctor … and that's one of the reasons why I opened."
On a recent afternoon, Imperiale sat at his desk, a miniature statue of the elephant-headed Hindu god, Ganesha, sitting in front of him as a figure for future success - a gift from a friend. Imperiale has been operating since the first week of January, ready to lend his services and prepared to defend his young age and experience, he said.
"I've never seen too many people do it," he said of going on his own. "It's difficult, but it's fun. What's the point of going to law school? … You want the challenge.
"You learn something new every day. But I feel like I am as capable as any other lawyer."
Imperiale played baseball and received his undergraduate degree in history from Drew University in Madison, Morris County.
Immediately following graduation, he moved to Orlando, Fla., to pursue law.
But the young law student did not feel far from home with his siblings as roommates. Greg, 30, graduated in the same class. Their brother, Salvatore, 23, is studying for the same degree.
While many move away for school in order to get distance from family members, Imperiale viewed the experience as beneficial.
"You have the support," he said. "We're three brothers. We are always together, and financially we had the support, too. It was wonderful. It never felt like you left. …
"My brothers and I, we are always on the same team."
Greg, who has plans to take the bar in February, has made arrangements to join Andrew at the Ventnor Avenue address.
"The pressure is on," he laughed.
Similar to Andrew, the move back to his hometown was a simple choice to make.
"This is our home," he said. "We have our family here. Our mom has her business here. I love Florida, but we always had to come home to our family. It was never an option."
The two plan to handle general practice, including criminal matters and personal injury.
Prior to opening up his own practice, Imperiale worked under Northfield lawyer Brenden Shur at the Law Offices of John Zarych. The experience taught him everything he knows, he said.
In Florida, he also had the opportunity to take on pro bono work involving animal rights and environmental matters, two topics he feels passionate about, he said.
Once fully acclimated, he hopes to involve himself in the community, especially with animal-related organizations and has already provided homes for two rescue dogs from Florida, Barry and Botto.
"They're my two best friends," he joked.
However, the self-proclaimed movie nerd is open and available to work on any case unrelated or new.
"If it requires me to work a little bit harder because maybe I haven't handled (it) - that's a challenge that I can't wait for," he said.
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