By Jay Cook
In January, attorney Michael L. Collins of Red Bank’s Archer & Griener, P.C., was appointed to serve as Holmdel Township’s legal counsel. This is not the first time Collins has served his hometown. From 2008 through 2011, Collins served on the Holmdel Township Board of Education. At that time, he was the youngest member ever voted onto the board.
Collins is a graduate of Holmdel’s Class of 2007. He graduated from New York University, where he double-majored in journalism and political science, and graduated in three years. He earned his J.D. from Seton Hall University.
Was there a specific teacher in Holmdel who influenced you?
“One teacher who I worked very closely with was Mr. Roger Benedict. He was the teacher in charge of the television production studio. He and I worked very closely, and I had won some accolades back then for a television show that I produced. He provided a lot of mentorship, and a lot of hours after school that he probably didn’t have to provide. I’m very grateful to him for that.”
What was it like to serve on the Board of Education at such a young age?
“Looking back, running for the board was one of the better decisions I’ve made in my life – it really has proven rewarding over time. Obviously when I ran and got elected, I got some press and notoriety at the beginning, which was exciting and different. In terms of the actual board service, I really learned what it was like to collaborate with other people, including people who are older than myself. The Holmdel schools have a little under 3,000 students and people are counting on that Board of Education to provide a quality education…I was grateful that the citizens of Holmdel gave an 18-year-old that opportunity and hopefully I served them well back then.”
What kind of law do you practice at Archer & Greiner?
“Here I practice in their state and local law and government relations practice group. We principally represent public entities or companies or individuals dealing with public entities. I find the work very rewarding and interesting – every day there’s a new question that needs to be answered. It’s certainly fast-paced and it has an element of politics in it, which through my past work I have been experienced in, and I always find it enjoyable to handle.”
Why did you decide to come back and work with Holmdel?
“I certainly know many people in Holmdel, and have great respect for them. It’s nice being an attorney and going into a place where you know the people and know the issues they’re facing. In the case of Holmdel, I certainly have a working knowledge of a lot of the issues facing it, and so I look forward to helping support the people in town who are making those tough decisions, and providing them with the proper legal advice.”
Has your age (27) been an advantage or a disadvantage as the Holmdel Township attorney?
“In my career thus far, I’ve tried my best to not make my age an issue. I think by doing so, and by carrying yourself as best you can, people don’t look at you for your age – they look at you for what you’re able to do.”
What can people look forward to at the Bell Works development in Holmdel?
“Bell Works was a 2 million-squarefoot vacant building in the center of Holmdel, and that all occurred while I was on the school board actually. It was a major ratable loss for the town and a morale loss as well. I think that great progress has been made given the steady leadership of the township committee towards a redevelopment that will reinvigorate such a large building.”
What is Michael Collins like when he’s not at a Holmdel Township meeting or on the second floor of this law firm?
“I’m a Giants season ticket holder and a big sports fan. I was disappointed when the Giants lost. They didn’t exactly show up for that playoff game in Green Bay. I made it to six home games this year, and they won all six – I was very proud of myself because I played a major role there.”
What’s your favorite show to binge-watch?
“Predictably I’ll say that I’m a ‘House of Cards’ guy, so when that comes out in a few weeks, I’ll probably watch all 12 or 14 episodes in a week or so. That’s a guilty pleasure for a political junkie like myself. I’ve also watched the ‘Making a Murderer’ series, which, as an attorney, was somewhat interesting.”
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