Anthony A. Nozzolillo has spent years in school and dedicated a good portion of his life to becoming an Attorney, but it’s his identity as a first-generation Italian American that has prepared him most for his legal journey.
Nozzolillo’s parents were both born in Italy, his father coming to the U.S. at the age of 10 and his mother at 16. They both grew up on farms in small villages with no electricity, where their families made a life selling farm products like eggs and milk to the local towns.
His grandparents brought his parents to this country for the same reason that all other immigrants migrated to the U.S.—in search of a better life for their family.
“My father still tells me, until this day, that the scene in the ‘The Godfather’ where young Vito Corleone looks up from the boat that brought him to America and sees the Statue of Liberty for the very first time, is the exact same moment my father had,” Nozzolillo shared.
Today, that heritage is something Nozzolillo takes pride in both personally and professionally.
“I always look forward to being able to share my background and upbringing with my clients. All attorneys for the most part have the same level of education, training, and ‘book’ smarts. We studied the same cases and statutes, we have the same degrees hanging on the walls in our office,” Nozzolillo explained. “But—and I say this with utmost sincerity—I have an innate skill, mindset, and approach that you can never acquire from a book, a school, a professor, or even an experience.”
As a child, Nozzolillo’s father pursued a master’s degree while working full time, (making his home presence random) with his mother being the quintessential Italian stay-at-home mom. Nozzolillo’s paternal grandparents also lived in the home and did not speak any English, which meant Italian was his first language.
“I barely spoke English until I was 6 years old. When I started first grade, I was in a special bilingual program, where my teacher spoke fluent Italian and English, and that is how I learned to write and speak English,” he said. “I started ‘regular public school’ when I was in second grade, and the school designated a classmate buddy to me who helped me to acclimate. He remains one of my closest friends until today….and I actually serve as his lawyer.”
Growing up, Nozzolillo’s home was their own slice of Italy, his mother and grandmother serving the best homemade wine, sausage, tomato sauce, bread and biscotti. The family’s backyard mimicked their “Italia” farm with the freshest tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, lettuce, basil, celery, string beans, carrots, squash, peas, and even a grape vine.
“As a first generation Italian-American kid, I never had playdates or sleepovers. I never went to summer camp. I wasn’t allowed to watch television during the week because homework and schooling was paramount in my home—as it was stressed to me that in America, a good education would result in a great livelihood,” Nozzolillo recalled.
The household shared dinner as a family every night together, and lunch together every Sunday after Church; Italian music echoing off the kitchen wall.
“Everything was family oriented and the family always came first,” he explained. “That is an ideology that I will live by until the day I die. My upbringing instilled the drive, work ethic, and unyielding desire to achieve that I have today.”
Not only has it impacted his work ethic, but his experience has also helped to tailor and mold how Nozzolillo engages his daily legal endeavors and undertakings.
“Growing up in a household of Italian immigrants, I was taught to think and act as an Italian would think and act in the “Old Country,” he explained. “My mind was trained from a very young age to always be shrewd and systematic in my approach. My father would constantly stress for me to always think, act, and say exactly as the person who I was speaking with would think, act, and say, but to also strive to avoid hostility and confrontation as that stunts and inhibits resolution and makes you look foolish. Even today in my practice of law, I always try to avoid conflict at all costs.”
And “none of that is something you can learn from a book”, Nozzolillo explains.
“I have had many teachers in my journey to becoming an attorney. I hold them in the highest regards and have mammoth respect for each one of them. They are worthy of acclaim and the highest recognition,” he said. “But there is not a classroom on this earth that can teach a person better lessons than the ones I learned in the home that I grew up in.”
To learn more about Anthony A. Nozzolillo, Esq. and his practice, visit www.nozzolillo.com, call (516) 581-4713, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.