Attorney Antonia LoBello will run a Brentwood storefront office for...

Attorney Antonia LoBello will run a Brentwood storefront office for her Hauppauge firm. (Sept. 15, 2010) Credit: Sally Morrow

Antonia LoBello grew up in the hardscrabble Fordham section of the Bronx, always trying to make sure she did not turn out like many of her friends, "pregnant at 15," she said.

Instead, LoBello graduated from Buffalo Law School and entered the Bronx district attorney's office. "I cleaned up a lot of drugs on the street," LoBello, 36, said the other day at the opening of the 1-800-Cantaso Brentwood Law Center. LoBello is to run the office for her Hauppauge-based firm, Ferro, Kuba, Mangano, Skylar, and is to be the center's sole attorney.

"I grew up tough," LoBello said of her childhood. "I learned to become street-wise."

Those are lessons, she says, likely to serve her well at the center, where many cases are to involve defending people charged with anything from vehicle and traffic violations to murder.

Brentwood has one of Long Island's largest Hispanic populations. The Spanish-speaking LoBello said such clients tend to be more comfortable when no translator is needed. While there certainly are other Spanish-speaking lawyers in the area, LoBello said she brings something special to the table. "I'm fresh, I'm new, I'm young," she said.

The center's opening was highlighted by a speech by the consul general of El Salvador, Dagoberto Alcides Torres. The Rev. Allan B. Ramirez, pastor of the Brookville Reformed Church and an advocate for Latinos on Long Island, offered a welcoming prayer in English, Spanish and Hebrew. LoBello looked around at the crowd outside the small office in a shopping center and smiled. "I don't know anyone else who grew up" holding a law degree and heading a law office, she said.