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Charles J. Durante Tax | Trusts and Estates
As a first-year law student, Charles “Chuck” J. Durante was already adept at gathering the pertinent facts. After graduating from Haverford College with honors, the history major became a reporter for the Delaware State News. During his second week at Villanova University School of Law, he got a job with the Philadelphia Inquirer—an offer too good to turn down.
For three years, Durante pursued both a career in law and a career in newspapers in the Inquirer’s sports department. Something had to give. “It was clear, at a certain stage, that it was critical to develop a focus where excellence is possible,” he says.
After law school, Durante earned a master’s degree in tax law from Villanova. He is now a partner at Connolly Bove Lodge & Hutz, where he has headed the tax, estates and trusts department since 1988. The challenge of his practice area intrigued him. “It was attractive to me because it intimidates so many people,” he says.
His work is about more than numbers. “There is an enormous human element when you’re dealing with estates,” he says. “You see the best and the worst in people. A will requires care on both the part of the client and the lawyer.”
When it comes to estate planning and business planning, he emphasizes strategies for the intergenerational passage of personal property and business interests.
He advises lay and professional fiduciaries on the administration of trusts and estates, and he counsels private foundations and other nonprofit organizations. He also advises clients in the related areas of Delaware statutory trusts, Delaware holding companies and opinions concerning Delaware business law.
Helping a family move its 50-year-old trust to Delaware, assisting a Puerto Rican real estate developer obtaining an opinion on Delaware law and advising a governmental body is par for the course for Durante. He successfully defended Delaware election law against a constitutional challenge before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Biener v. Calio and the city of Wilmington’s procurement process in Northern Delaware Clean Water Corp. v. City of Wilmington.
His interest in government matters is not surprising considering Durante is Wilmington’s former assistant city solicitor and a former deputy attorney general.
Durante continues to write on topics related to law, Delaware history and public affairs. And he still covers high school cross country. “I regard it as a community service, telling stories of ambitious and talented teenagers,” he says.
Like being a journalist, being a lawyer requires good listening skills. “You absorb and probe for the necessary facts,” he says. He is then candid with the client about the possible outcome, the risks and the benefits of each strategy.
Integrity and candor are the successful lawyer’s most critical characteristics, he says. “If you adhere to standards, a lawyer can enjoy a rewarding, continuing client relationship that can expand into a personal friendship.”
Page 6: Stuart M. Grant | Corporate Litigation and Securities