Former congressman joins Sill Cummis to lead new defense industry group

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    Former congressman Steve Rothman will lead a new defense industry group at Sills Cummis & Gross.
    Former congressman Steve Rothman will lead a new defense industry group at Sills Cummis & Gross.

    Former eight-term congressman Steve Rothman on Monday will join the Newark law firm Sills Cummis & Gross to lead a new interdisciplinary defense industry group that will draw on his experience as a member of the House appropriations subcommittee on defense.

    Rothman, who lives in Englewood where he served two terms as mayor in the 1980s, lost his seat in Congress after a redistricting primary battle last June with fellow Democrat Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson), who went on to win the general election in November.

    Rothman said Sills "is looking to build a practice that will represent aeronautics and defense industry clients. My experience with defense issues and my familiarity with how to get one's foot in the door for consideration at the Pentagon stems from my (six) years as a member of the House appropriations subcommittee on defense—a 15-person subcommittee that recommends all of the military spending for the U.S."

    He will also join the firm's litigation practice group, and its government relations and public policy practice group.

    Sills expects to be able to compete with other law firms for business from defense and aerospace companies nationwide. The current push in Washington to cut federal spending, which Rothman said could slow the rate of Defense budget increases, "makes a familiarity with the appropriations process, and the Pentagon way of doing things, even more important." He said this is "an era where there is even greater competition to gain access to the Pentagon, for either an absolute smaller pie or a pie that will not grow as large as it might otherwise," as a result of the nation's fiscal challenges.

    Rothman said he decided to join Sills "because I thought that they were the best fit for me, and they have the caliber of lawyers who not only know their way around New Jersey and the business landscape but who are really at the top of their fields in the law."

    Max Crane, managing partner, said the firm's "tradition of attracting leaders from the public sector – for the benefit of our clients – continues. We have always been committed to attracting the best legal minds, including those with distinguished careers in public service. Steve Rothman is another excellent example of that phenomenon."

    At Sills, Rothman will joins Peter Verniero, former state Supreme Court justice and attorney general, and Jerry Zaro, who former Gov. Jon Corzine picked to be the state's "economic czar."

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    Beth Fitzgerald

    Beth Fitzgerald

    Beth Fitzgerald reports on health care, small business and higher education. She joined NJBIZ in 2008 after a 34-year career at the Star-Ledger and has been reporting on business in New Jersey since 1978. Her email is beth@njbiz.com and she is @bethfitzgerald8 on Twitter.

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