• Merrill
  • Terry E.


During their careers, the members of O’Brien Thornton LLC have delivered services to Fortune 500 Companies as well as smaller companies, closely–held businesses and individuals. They developed their skills and expertise serving prominent clients at preeminent firms in New York and New Jersey, and will bring that same high caliber of service to you through O’Brien Thornton LLC.



Merrill O'Brien, Esq.

Merrill O’Brien was admitted to the bar in the States of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania in 1980. He is a Certified Civil Trial Attorney in New Jersey, a distinction earned by only 2% of the attorneys practicing in New Jersey.

Court Admissions: All New Jersey courts; the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey; the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit; all state courts in New York; the U.S. District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York.

Education: Rutgers University School of Law (J.D. 1980); Trinity College, Connecticut (B.A. Classics 1977).

Clerkship: Law Clerk to the Hon. William Lipkin, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, New Jersey.

Employment: Litigation specialist for the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (1981-82). Associated with the New York law firm of Baden Kramer Huffman & Brodsky, and the New Jersey law firms of Riker Danzig Scherer & Hyland and Ellenport Holsinger & Lehn (1982-87). Associated and then Partner in New Jersey law firm of Dollinger & Dollinger (1987-2002). Opened O’Brien Thornton LLC on January 1, 2003.

Speaking Engagements: Mr. O’Brien has been engaged as a speaker on numerous occasions, including “The Broker’s Common-Law Right to Payment” and “Getting Paid by Debtors-in-Possession or Trustees-in-Bankruptcy” presented at the Real Estate Brokers’ Symposium entitled “Getting Paid in the Nineties; ” “The Effect of Foreclosure and Assignment on the Broker’s Commission, ” presented to the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors Seminar; “How to Handle Brokerage Commission Claims Against Successors-In-Title, ” presented by the New Jersey Institute of Continuing Legal Education, “The Consumer Fraud Act and Brokers, Reasonable Inquiry as a Defense, ” a lecture given at the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors Meeting; Guest Speaker, New Jersey State Bar Association, Banking Section, on the New Jersey Banking Act’s prohibition on foreign banks’ using New Jersey Courts for suits involving intrastate transactions.

Publications: “Ineffective Shield, A Bill to Protect Brokers From Fraud Claims May Create More Problems Than It Solves, ” published in the New Jersey Law Journal; Reported cases include: Arab African Int’l Bank v. Epstein 958 F.2d 532 (3d Cir. 1992).

Organizations: Member of New Jersey State Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association. In 1986, he was honored by presentation of a plaque by the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey for volunteer legal services. Mr. O’Brien continues to be active in his community as a volunteer in various capacities.

Terry E. Thornton, Esq.

Terry E. Thornton, Esq.Terry E. Thornton was admitted to the bar in New Jersey in 1986 and in New York in 1982. She has achieved the status “AV® Preeminent" by Martindale-Hubbell®, a distinction earned by a small percentage of New Jersey attorneys.*

Court Admissions: All New Jersey courts; the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey; the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit; all New York state courts; the U.S. District Courts for the Southern, Eastern and Northern Districts of New York; The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; and the United States Supreme Court.

Education: Rutgers University School of Law (J.D. Highest Honors 1981); City University of New York (B.A. History, 1979 magna cum laude).

Employment: Associated with the New York law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton from 1981 to 1989. Associated with and then Member of the New Jersey law firm of Lowenstein Sandler, PC in New Jersey from 1989 to 2000. Opened O’Brien Thornton LLC on January 1, 2003.

Speaking Engagements: Panelist at the NJ State Bar Association Annual Conference (Restrictive Covenants in Law Firm Partnership Agreements); Panelist at conference hosted by the University of Pennsylvania Law School (Rights of Pregnant Patients).

Publications: “Anatomy of a Libel Trial: Burnett v. National Enquirer,” Practicing Law Institute, 1983 (script written by T. Thornton and C. Barber); “The Rights of Pregnant Patients: Carder Case Brings Bold Policy Initiatives,” Healthspan, May 1991; “Striking Back--Civil Litigation Tools to Attack Computer Pirates, ” Computer Litigation Journal, ABA 8/1999; “Intellectual Property Rights and Website Development, ” The Internet Connection, 10/1998; “Year 2000 Compliance, ” NJ Law Journal, 11/1998, “Computers in Litigation: Admitting Computer Animation Into Evidence, ” Computer Litigation Journal, ABA, 7/1999; “Computer Use in Litigation, Discovery of Litigation Support Databases, ” Computer Litigation Journal, 4/1999; “Legal Issues and the Web, ” Ziff Davis Insider Member Services, 1999.

Appointments: Master, New Jersey Inns of Court, Brennan Chapter (1996-99); Associate Editor, Computer Litigation Journal, published by the American Bar Association (1999).

Organizations: Member of New Jersey State Bar Association. Founder (2002) and President (2002-11), the Green Fields Foundation, a non-profit, which has raised more than $2 million in grant awards to improve youth athletic facilities in public parks.

Published Cases: Triffin v. Ameripay LLC, 368 N.J.Super. 587 (App.Div. 2004)(agency under UCC); Balcor v. Vector Whippany Assoc., 181 B.R. 781 (D.N.J. 1995)(bankruptcy); Bloom v. Clara Maass Medical Center, 295 N.J.Super. 594 (App.Div. 1996)(partnership litigation); Lynch v. J.P. Stevens, 758 F.Supp. 976 (D.N.J. 1991)(pensions); Petruzzi’s IGA Supermarkets, Inc. v. Darling-Delaware Co., Inc., 998 F.2d 1224 (3d Cir. 1993)(antitrust); Katchen v. Wolf & Sampson, 258 N.J. Super. (App. Div. 1992)(law firm agreements); Environmental Defense Fund, Inc. v. Wheelabrator Technologies Inc., 725 F.Supp. 758 (S.D.N.Y. 1989) (RCRA); Langone v. Coughlin, 712 F.Supp. 1061 (N.D.N.Y. 1989)(prisoner rights). Other significant cases: Stoner v. George Washington University Medical Center (D.C. 1991), a nationally-publicized settlement which resulted in the adoption of landmark hospital policies addressing the rights of pregnant patients to limit court-ordered caesarean section deliveries over maternal objections. The settlement was reported in the New York Times, Washington Post and Boston Globe and was the subject of numerous favorable editorials.

* For methodology for AV® Preeminent rating, see www.Martindale.com. Disclaimer: Per the NJ Rules of Professional Ethics, we must note to you that “no aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court.”

Maria Russo, Esq.

Maria E. Russo, currently a solo practitioner in downtown, New York, NY, has been practicing law since 1981. Born in Queens, New York, she graduated cum laude from LeMoyne College, Syracuse with a B.A. degree in French, received an M.A. degree in French from Fordham University, and graduated with a Juris Doctor degree from Rutgers University School of Law in New Jersey in 1981.

Ms. Russo started her law career as a corporate attorney at Hannoch Weisman in New Jersey before joining the real estate department of Bachner Tally Polevoy & Misher in New York, NY in 1983, which then had about 70 attorneys. She became a partner in the Real Estate Department at Bachner Tally in 1991. When Bachner Tally dissolved at the end of 1999, Ms. Russo joined the firm of Kronish Lieb [now known as Cooley Godward Kronish] in New York as a partner in the Real Estate Department. In 2003, Ms. Russo opened her own firm in New York.

Ms. Russo’s professional experience includes intense expertise in all areas of commercial leasing representing both landlords and tenants including office leasing, retail leasing (urban and shopping center locations), warehouse leasing, ground leases, assignments and subleases, non-disturbance agreements, take-over agreements, etc.

Her list of clients includes Vornado Retail, Brookfield Properties, Trizec-Hahn Properties, S.L. Green, Rose Associates, and Realogy Corporation, among others. As well as representing NYC landlords in their office and retail leasing, Ms. Russo’s experience also comprises: representing Landlords with Government tenants: city (NYC Board of Ed, MTA), Federal (FDIC, FBI, Bankruptcy Court); representing various non-profit institutions as tenants; representing Landlords with specialty tenants such as health clubs, doctors’ offices, piers, garages, schools, emergency generator users; experience with Certificate of Occupancy amendments; telecommunications licenses and food service licenses.

Ms. Russo is admitted to practice in the States of New Jersey and New York.

Ms. Russo is a member of the New York City Bar Association.

Peter Bakarich, Esq.

Peter Bakarich, Esq.Mr. Bakarich concentrates his practice in trusts, estates, taxation and pensions, and has 25 years of experience in these areas of law. Born in Morristown, New Jersey in 1947, he is a graduate of The Catholic University of America, receiving a B.A. degree in 1969 and an M.A. degree in 1970. He also received a diploma in 1974 from Eberhard–Karls Universitaet, in Tuebingen, Germany. He received his Juris Doctor degree in 1979 from Rutgers University School of Law and a Masters of Law (LL.M) in Taxation from New York University School of Law in 1988.

Mr. Bakarich began his law career as an attorney in the Trusts and Estates Department at Cravath, Swaine & Moore in New York City, before becoming affiliated with Joel Shoobe in New Jersey, where he has continued to practice.

He is admitted to practice in the States of New York and New Jersey and the United States Tax Court. He is a member of the American Bar Association and the New Jersey State Bar Association, the Passaic County and Bergen County Bar Associations, and the New York State Bar Association. He is also a member of the Estate Planning Council of Bergen County and the Greater New Jersey Estate Planning Council, having served as its President from 1995 to 1997.

Mr. Bakarich holds the Accredited Estate Planner (AEP) designation from the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils (NAEPC), and was recently elected a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC).

Mr. Bakarich also is a respected lecturer and educator on taxation and estate planning. He has been an Instructor for the Will Drafting and Estate Administration Skills and Methods courses for the New Jersey Institute of Continuing Legal Education several times each year since 1990. He has contributed model forms for publication in the Course Books for ICLE programs. He has also lectured on taxation and estate planning for other organizations, including the National Business Institute.

Articles authored by Mr. Bakarich have been published in the New Jersey Law Journal, the Bergen Barrister, and other publications.