1938 – 2023
Thomas J. Spellman, of St. James, NY, and Naples, FL, died peacefully at home surrounded by his loving family on September 10, 2023, in New York at the age of 84. He was born on November 11, 1938, and spent his early years in Manhasset, New York where he attended St. Mary’s High School and curated his lifelong sense of humor by cracking jokes for his classmates just outside of earshot of the Brothers who taught him.
Manhasset was also the place where he met the love of his life, Margaret Spellman who showed him around Lord & Taylor as he began a summer job there. “He asked me out shortly after he started working” Margaret recalled. “He took me out on a wonderful date and after that, we were a couple” added Margaret.
Tom went on to attend Fordham University, graduating both college and law school. Fordham and the Jesuits helped form his lifelong Roman Catholic faith and devotion to daily Mass and the Eucharist. He graduated from the evening division of Fordham Law, holding a variety of positions, ranging from service on a ship to a U.S. mail carrier to advertising professional with Ted Bates, as he pursued his education. He also proudly served as a Captain in the U.S. Army in the Armored (Tank) Division. The diversity of positions he held and the people he met along the way propelled his success as an attorney. He had a natural charm about him that attracted people and a strong passion for achieving justice for his clients. He founded and led a very successful law firm, Devitt Spellman Barrett, LLP where he practiced until his 75th birthday.
Thomas J. Spellman, Jr. carved an illustrious 40-year career in trial practice, showcasing exceptional expertise in a diverse range of cases. These areas include product liability, discrimination cases, premises liability, personal injury claims, school district liability matters, intentional torts such as assault and battery, malicious prosecution, and false arrest, as well as negligence cases. Beyond civil litigation, his expertise extended to criminal defense. With four decades of experience, he displayed remarkable versatility and dedication to the legal profession, leaving a lasting impact in multiple facets of the law. His legal acumen also extended to criminal defense, representing clients accused of manslaughter and burglary. Operating in both state and federal courts across New York City and Long Island, he left his mark on appellate courts as well. Spellman’s arbitration prowess, both as an attorney and Federal Arbitrator, added depth to his legal portfolio. Mr. Spellman was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1966. He is also admitted to the Eastern and Southern Districts of the U.S. District Court of New York; the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit; the U.S. Court of Military Appeals; and the U.S. Supreme Court Professional. Furthermore, he actively contributed to the legal profession by representing fellow attorneys in disciplinary matters and educating peers on legal ethics and trial techniques through lectures, leaving an enduring legacy in the legal community.
Thomas J. Spellman, Jr. was deeply involved in various legal organizations and held key positions throughout his career. He was a member of the American Bar Association and served in the House of Delegates for the Torts & Insurance Practice Section from 1992 to 1993. He was also a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. In the New York State Bar Association, he was a Tenth Judicial District Member of the House of Delegates, a former Vice President, and a former Nominating Committee Member. He was a member of the Trial Lawyers Section and the Executive Committee of the Torts, Insurance Compensation Law Section, and a Fellow of the New York Bar Foundation. Additionally, he was affiliated with the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, The Defense Association of New York, and The Defense Research Institute. Notably, he served as the President of the Suffolk County Bar Association from 1992 to 1993, and he was a former Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He also held the position of Trustee in the Suffolk Academy of Law and served as the Past Chairman of the Trial Lawyers Section of the Nassau/Suffolk County Bar Associations. Furthermore, he contributed to the legal profession by being a member of the Grievance (Lawyer Discipline) Committee of the Tenth Judicial District from 1984 to 1992. Thomas J. Spellman, Jr.’s extensive involvement in these organizations reflects his commitment to the legal community and his dedication to various aspects of the law.
Following his legal career he retired, splitting his time between his homes in NY and Florida where he was a fan of the performing arts and fine dining. He also loved the sun, the beach, and the company of good friends as a long-time member of his beloved Swordfish Beach Club in Westhampton Beach, NY.