Dalton Law: A History
The journey begins in Carrick – on – Suir County Tipperary in 1962. Helen Frances Dalton was the oldest of three children born to Eileen and Richard Dalton. The elder Mrs. Dalton was a successful insurance broker with her own private brokerage serving County Tipperary. Mr. Dalton was a well known cattle dealer. As Helen described him, “a real hustler.” From a young age Helen was instilled with her mother’s wit and her father’s drive. This combination would serve her well in life.
During her high school years Helen Dalton hit the books. She knew she wanted to have a professional career, but was uncertain as to what that career would be. During school she worked for Adrian Maxwell, one of Ireland’s better known race horse trainers. Helen explains that she “rode out prized race horses,” which is just an industry term for exercising them. When asked why she worked with race horses she explains, “I liked it, and I was good at it.” Despite her love of horses, Helen kept hitting those books.
In 1979 there were only four law schools in all of Ireland. There was a very limited desire in becoming a lawyer. “My freshman class at Cork Law had only one hundred students.” Law school was not at all easy so most of her time was spent in the study hall or the library. After three years at Cork Law, Helen F. Dalton graduated with her Bachelors in Civil Law degree. With degree in hand there were two paths that she would be able to take since Ireland was under the British system of law, that of a Barrister or that of a Solicitor.
It was 1984 when Helen made the decision to enroll at Kings Inns in Dublin to become a Barrister. While working on becoming a Barrister, Helen picked up pocket change working for the Phoenix Park Polo Club training top Polo horses. She maintained a grueling schedule during this time in her life. This is where her mother’s attention to detail and poise combined with her father’s grit and drive really paid off. With degrees in hand and the title of Barrister, it was time to put it to good use. The problem was, “there were bad economic times in Ireland. It was impossible to find work as a Barrister. There were just no openings.”
At the age of 36, and with two thousand dollars in her pocket, Helen Dalton landed at JFK International Airport in 1990. Her brother who had come to New York a few years before had an apartment in Astoria. “I only stayed with my brother for a few weeks before I found my own place. I mean I didn’t come to New York City to live with my brother”. Finding employment came relatively easy for Helen, she answered an ad in the local Irish newspaper from a very not Irish attorney Kuldip Kasuri who was looking for a paralegal. A bit nervous, she went in for an interview and met with Mr. Kasuri’s personal secretary who was very Irish. “I got the job the moment I opened my mouth” Helen remembers from that interview.
Fast forward to 1992. Helen was only here on a work visa and needed to establish a more permanent residency so that she could focus on becoming an attorney here in New York. “There was a lottery for being granted a green card. I got my paperwork in order and applied. I won my green card in ’92. I couldn’t have been happier. This meant I could take the bar.” Helen had no idea what to expect in the Bar Exam. Her law school degree was from Ireland. So she took a correspondence course that cost three hundred dollars. “That was a lot of money for me in 1993. Remember, I was making minimum wage, paying for my own apartment, and I was on my own. But I made it happen.”
Her first attempt at the Bar Exam was a rude awakening. “People need to remember, law schools here prepare you for the Bar. There is no Bar in Ireland so I had no idea what to expect in regards to that test.” Still, Helen Dalton would not be defeated by a simple test. She made the library her second home and doubled down on her studies. It was a few months later in 1994 that she passed the bar.
Looking at the classified ads of the New York Times she came across a Forest Hills office with a price of eight hundred a month that was very attractive. Helen was living in Woodside now, just a quick train ride from Forest Hills. She took a trip to the office to meet with the no-nonsense landlord, Floyd Rosini. Accounts of this first meeting differ a bit. Helen remembers, “Floyd asked me for bank references and personal references. I answered with I had eight hundred dollars in my pocket and we signed a lease on the spot.” Floyd, however, explains, “She was a sweetheart of a woman. The rent was actually eight hundred and fifty. She then negotiated it down to eight hundred. Don’t think that she isn’t a strong negotiator.”
In February 1995, Helen F. Dalton and Associates, P.C. was established and opened for business. “I opened the doors and was doing general law. There were very few attorneys in Forest Hills at that time.” Helen F. Dalton’s work ethic and determination helped her business take off. Mr. Rosini remembers those times saying, “She amazed me. She was just such a pleasure. By December of 1995 she had more than doubled the amount of space that she was renting from me.” Helen Dalton kept her head up and her eyes on the prize.
By April 2007 Helen F. Dalton and Associates, P.C. was an established well-oiled machine. Helen had taken over the entire second floor and “reached a stabilized and thriving balance between cases and staff.” Never forgetting her roots, her hard work, and her journey, she remains a Forest Hills institution celebrating 22 years of private practice.