Nelson Madden Black LLP

Firm Overview

We aim to provide highest quality legal services at reasonable cost. The firm's primary practice is representation and advice for religious institutions including churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and houses of worship of all faiths. As lawyers for the religious community, we become involved with matters of corporate governance, litigation defense and prosecution, First Amendment rights, employment of pastors, church construction and real property development, and similar issues. Example casesFifth Avenue Presbyterian Church v. City of New York, 293 F.3d 570 (2d Cir. 2002) (won preliminary injunction against New York City police on behalf of major midtown church and its homeless neighbors); Medforms, Inc. v. Healthcare Management Solutions, Inc., 290 F.3d 98 (2d Cir. 2002) (won appeal sustaining jury verdict in favor of defendant in software infringement suit)
Main Office
5 Bryant Park
27th Floor
New York  NY  10018
  • (212) 382-4300
  • (212) 382-4319


Free Initial Consultation?
We generally charge for an initial consultation, but fees are waived for telephone consultations of up to 15 minutes.
Hourly Rates
Benchmark hourly rate: $485/partners. Hourly rates are negotiable for significant projects with evergreen retainer agreements.

Office Information

Office Hours
Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Emergency After Hours
Languages Spoken
Spanish, French, Hebrew, Yiddish, Arabic

Is your firm willing to help a client with one discrete part of a case, without taking on the whole case?

This firm has repeatedly collaborated with other lawyers in handling discrete parts of larger cases; and in appropriate circumstances, would be happy to do so again.

What are your policies about dividing work within the firm to make the process most cost-effective for the client?

Our firm generally assigns work to the person who can handle it most efficiently. The firm also collaborates from time to time with experts in various legal and non-legal fields in the effort to achieve optimum results for its clients.

How frequently does your firm use mediation, arbitration, or collaborative law to resolve cases?

While many of the firm's cases are litigated start-to-finish, the firm also uses mediation, arbitration and negotiation, as appropriate, to promote its clients' goals.

Does your firm provide pro bono legal services or otherwise participate in your community?

The firm has provided pro bono and "low bono" legal services to some of its clients since it was founded and will continue to do so. However, this listing is not for the purpose of soliciting additional work of this nature.

What distinguishes your law firm from others?

The firm focuses its practice on the representation of religious institutions and related entities and individuals. The attorneys in this firm have decades of experience in providing legal services to people and institutions in the religious field. This firm's primary goal is to serve its clients, not to empty their wallets. The firm tries to treat all of its clients, rich and poor, weak and powerful, with equal dignity. The firm's clients expect candor, good counsel and compassion and, to the best of its ability, this firm fulfills those expectations.

What is your firm's point of view regarding clients educating themselves on legal issues?

Clients can aid their attorneys by becoming familiar with the legal issues involved in their cases. The best lawyers are able to explain to their clients the complicated choices and risks that often are associated with going to court over a dispute.

Is your firm willing to review documents prepared by clients?

It is usually best to meet with your lawyer as early as possible in the process of negotiating and drafting a contract. Documents that have been drafted in haste are sometimes the cause of very expensive lawsuits.

Is your firm willing to coach clients who want to represent themselves?

While the firm has reviewed pleadings and discussed issues of law and evidence with self-represented individuals, this is not a regular part of its practice.

Jonathan Robert Nelson

Mr. Nelson has been practicing law since 1983. He began representing religious institutions in 1991. From 2001 to 2005 he was the lead counsel for the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in its successful First Amendment litigation against the City of New York. He has represented and advised churches and temples in many other matters, both litigated and non-litigated. He has been listed as a "Super Lawyer" since 2012 and as an "AV Preeminent" lawyer since 1998.
  • Bar Number: 2201184
    New York , 1988
  • Northwestern University School of Law
    J.D. , 1983
  • Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University
    M.A. , 1984
  • Yale College
    B.A. , 1978
    Major: American Studies. Earned degree in six semesters.

John Madden

Yale College, B.A. 1976. Harvard Law School, J.D. 1979.

Barry Black

Hofstra University, B.B.A. 1991, J.D. 1994.

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