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Christie's chief counsel returning to Lowenstein Sandler firm; McElroy Deutsch lawyer tabbed as replacement

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Chris Porrino will rejoin Lowenstein Sandler LLP.
Chris Porrino will rejoin Lowenstein Sandler LLP. - ()

Chris Porrino will step down as Gov. Chris Christie's chief counsel and return to the private sector after nearly four years in the administration, Christie's office announced Friday.

Porrino will serve through the end of the month before going back to practice at his former firm, Lowenstein Sandler LLP, according to a news release. He will serve as co-chair of the Roseland-based firm’s national litigation practice, with a focus on civil and criminal trial practice, while leading its nearly 100-attorney litigation department.

Thomas P. Scrivo of McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney and Carpenter LLP will succeed Porrino as chief counsel, the news release said. Scrivo serves as the managing partner of the firm’s Newark office and co-chair of its commercial litigation practice group. 

Porrino was ranked 34th on this year’s NJBIZ Power 100, due to what insiders said was his role in key issues and Christie’s reliance on him. In a prepared statement, Christie thanked Porrino “for taking on one of the most demanding roles in public service in New Jersey” and for his friendship.

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“Since Chris came on board as my chief counsel and every single day since then, he has been by my side as an invaluable source of guidance and wisdom for this administration — even during the most challenging of times,” Christie said in a prepared statement. “Chris’ leadership has played a pivotal role in delivering results for the people of this state and I am incredibly proud of the work we have been able to accomplish together.”

Prior to joining the governor’s office, Porrino served as director of the Division of Law from February 2012 to January 2014, where he oversaw a team of 500 lawyers, the news release said. During that time, the division achieved outcomes in major litigation, including the case in which the Supreme Court threw out a $375,000 jury award to the Harvey Cedars couple who argued that their view of the ocean would be diminished by dune construction.

Porrino then negotiated a settlement of that case in which state obtained the needed property from the couple for $1, the news release said.

Porrino was named chief counsel in December 2013, succeeding Charles McKenna. He was the subject of a brief controversy in March when published reports said he owned shares of a mutual fund that holds stock in ExxonMobil Corp. while playing a lead role in settling the state’s $8.9 billion environmental contamination lawsuit against the company.

In his role as chief counsel, Porrino also served on the bistate panel charged with recommending reforms for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s governance, operations and accountability, the news release said.

He also worked on resolving the dispute between Triple 5 and the Jets and Giants football organizations that allowed the American Dream project to move forward.

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