The expression says if you do what you love, you’ll never work another day in your life.
That holds true for Bruce G. Behrins.
“All I ever wanted to do was practice law. I never wanted to become a judge. I never wanted to get involved in politics,” said Behrins.
It sounds simple, but that sentiment could explain how the Behrins Law Firm has become a longtime Staten Island staple in the legal community and is celebrating its 50th anniversary with the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce.
“I love the trial work. I tried my first case in the Criminal Court when I was in practice for only six to seven months. So, it’s been 52 years since I’ve been in the courts,” said Behrins, who maintains his office in Bulls Head while his son/partner, Jonathan, works in the Dongan Hills office. The Behrins duo is then joined by partner Susan Schneider to comprise the Behrins Law Firm.
With that wealth of experience, Behrins has been involved in countless trials in various parts of the United States. But, it’s one of the more basic concepts that he cites as one of the biggest changes he has seen in the courtroom.
“The jurors have become more sophisticated but especially more cynical. It’s difficult to pick a jury,” he said.
With 50 years of membership and someone who has served as counsel for the Chamber since the mid-1960s, Behrins also brings a historical outlook on the organization.
“The Staten Island Chamber Foundation didn’t exist. It’s nice to see an institution that devotes itself to doing good in the community,” said Behrins about the arm of the Chamber that was created in 2000 and provides continuing education and training resources to the existing business community on Staten Island. Among some of the Foundation initiatives are the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!), the Chamber’s Job Board, and internships for high school and college students.
“There’s more small-business representation on the board than there was 50 years ago,” added the lawyer. “In those days, it was very hard to get a national or international business opening in Staten Island. Now, it seems like it happens every day.”
While Behrins honed his skills in the courtroom, he also gained a great deal of knowledge as a Chamber member.
“I was a pretty good businessman, but the business that I’ve learned through the Chamber — and through my participation with the Chamber – has been great,” he said. “The small-business guy who gets pushed around and has to scratch for a buck isn’t much different than a lawyer who’s in practice for himself.”