About Us

MADELINE L. HOUSTON received her B.A. from Brooklyn College in 1970 and her J.D. from Rutgers University School of Law, Newark, in 1976.  She was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1976.   Ms. Houston has been litigating on behalf of New Jersey consumers since 1982.  Both as counsel for individual and classes of consumers, and in the capacity of amicus curiae, she has argued before the trial and appellate courts of New Jersey, the New Jersey Supreme Court, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.  Before entering private practice in 1998, she served as Director of Litigation of the Passaic County Legal Aid Society and head of that office’s Consumer Unit for 16 years.   In 1993 Legal Services of New Jersey established the “Madeline L. Houston Outstanding Attorney Award” in her honor, an award that is still given annually to a Legal Services attorney who has provided exceptional service.   In addition to litigation, Ms. Houston has engaged in numerous other professional activities, such as serving as a panel member at the Rutgers School of Law Program on Protecting Workers and Consumers From Corporate Abuse (2014); serving as a panel member at the National Consumer Law Center Conference on Predatory Mortgage Cases: Settlement and Trial Issues (2004), serving as a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association Ad Hoc Committee on Consumer Protection Law (2002), serving as a presenter at the New Jersey State Bar Foundation Seminar on Consumer Fraud (2002, 2003), serving as a Member of the Supreme Court District Ethics Committee (1997), and testifying as a witness before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking with regard to proposed amendments to the federal Truth in Lending Act (1995). 

MELISSA J. TOTARO received her B.A. from Rutgers University Newark College of Arts and Sciences in 1988 with High Honors and her J.D. from Rutgers University School of Law, Newark, in 1993 with Honors.   She was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1993.  She served as Law Clerk to the Hon. Jose L. Fuentes, J.S.C. of the Superior Court of New Jersey from 1993 to 1994 and then became a staff attorney in the Consumer Unit of the Passaic County Legal Aid Society. In PCLAS's Consumer Unit she worked on complex litigation including class actions and individual actions involving predatory lending, home repair fraud, auto fraud and other unfair and deceptive practices.   In 1998 she joined Ms. Houston in this firm, and since that time she has continued to focus on advancing consumer rights, in state and federal courts, at the trial and appellate levels, in ways that advance the interests of the clients she represents as well as shape the law for the benefit of all New Jersey consumers.