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Vanguard Series: Leaders in Law

Our second installment of the Vanguard Series centers around the law, specifically local attorneys who stood out for their roles in important (sometimes landmark) cases or were instrumental in giving back to their profession by providing opportunities for other lawyers to get to the next level in their careers.

We polled dozens of law firms and asked them to provide us with names of attorneys who made their marks for one reason or another over the past 12 months. As I wrote in May about our Vanguard Series leaders in health care, these profiles are not about the people at the top of the org chart, but rather those within their organizations who were selected for their exemplary work.

What’s particularly special about this list is the wide breadth of practices that are featured.

From real estate and health care to intellectual property and insurance, law reporter Gabrielle Saulsbery chronicles some of the most interesting cases of the past year.

Among them: The arguments in front of the U.S. Supreme Court that led to the decision enabling New Jersey to legalize sports betting, a potential long-term bonanza for the state.

I hope you enjoy the latest Vanguard Series section: Leaders in Law.

Howard Burns
Editor, NJBIZ

Olajide Araromi
Olajide Araromi
Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi

Olajide Araromi grasped what it meant to live in a silo as a Nigerian-American and Newark native attending the pre-dominantly white Seton Hall Preparatory School on the Griffin Bridges financial aid program.

Araromi has only good things to say about his alma mater, but he noted, “It was the first time I really understood that we have our own circles and rarely venture out.”

As an associate in the White Collar Criminal Defense & Government Investigations Group at Chiesa Shahinian & Gi-antomasi PC, he noticed the same thing: Though he knew many lawyers, he found himself insulated from other pro-fessionals. The resources they had to call on each other were limited, particularly in the minority community.

Araromi brought the minority professional community together last month in an event that not only made room for interdisciplinary intersectionality but connected passionate professionals with nonprofits focused on helping “people like me who benefited from others who reached out of their silo into the inner city to uplift.”

More than 70 people came out on a rainy Wednesday for what is envisioned as an annual event. Araromi said those in attendance forged valuable connections with nonprofits such as NJ Seed, Traveling Mad and Big Brothers Big Sisters – the latter a group with whom he has a personal connection.
Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi

Olajide Araromi grasped what it meant to live in a silo as a Nigerian-American and Newark native attending the pre-dominantly white Seton Hall Preparatory School on the Griffin Bridges financial aid program.

Araromi has only good things to say about his alma mater, but he noted, “It was the first time I really understood that we have our own circles and rarely venture out.”

As an associate in the White Collar Criminal Defense & Government Investigations Group at Chiesa Shahinian & Gi-antomasi PC, he noticed the same thing: Though he knew many lawyers, he found himself insulated from other pro-fessionals. The resources they had to call on each other were limited, particularly in the minority community.

Araromi brought the minority professional community together last month in an event that not only made room for interdisciplinary intersectionality but connected passionate professionals with nonprofits focused on helping “people like me who benefited from others who reached out of their silo into the inner city to uplift.”

More than 70 people came out on a rainy Wednesday for what is envisioned as an annual event. Araromi said those in attendance forged valuable connections with nonprofits such as NJ Seed, Traveling Mad and Big Brothers Big Sisters – the latter a group with whom he has a personal connection.
Epstein Becker & Green PC

The most effective counterpunch is one thrown before the opponent lands his first blow.

That’s the mindset Anthony Argiropoulos has when his legal instincts tell him to switch his clients from defense to of-fense, like he did representing Wakefern Food Corp. last year in a suit against computer advertising company Shopper Marketing Network and its subcontractor Heavy Creative.

When the defendants didn’t hold up their end of a contract with Wakefern to provide advertising on computer screens across New Jersey and New York ShopRite stores, Wakefern terminated their deal and withheld hundreds of thousands of dollars they were to pay for the job.

After Heavy Creative made calls to Wakefern threatening to file a lawsuit, Argiropoulos, a member of Epstein Becker & Green PC’s Litigation and Life Sciences and Health Care practices, thought it best to go on the offensive by filing a suit for a declaratory judgment. The suit claimed neither Shopper Marketing Network nor Heavy Creative was entitled to any money from Wakefern. One defendant quickly settled, and Argiropoulos successfully reached a judgment against the other.

Argiropoulos said this is his and Epstein’s key disrupter strategy: bypassing conservatism for something smart and ag-gressive, like countersuing before an initial suit is even filed to end a dispute quickly.
Greenbaum Rowe Smith & Davis LLP

When Long Branch, North Wildwood, Robbinsville and Flemington are looking to redevelop, they turn to Robert Beck-elman.

A partner in the Land Use and Redevelopment practice at Greenbaum Rowe Smith & Davis LLP, Beckelman has repre-sented the municipalities as special redevelopment and litigation counsel in hundreds of millions of dollars of redevel-opment within the last couple years.

He’s intimately involved with the third and final phase of the Kushner Cos.’ $200 million Pier Village in Long Branch (its hotel and boardwalk improvements were finished earlier in June).

Across town, a glimmer of hope in Long Branch’s deteriorating downtown: The city council approved a $200 million de-velopment from Diversified Realty Advisors to build 590 market-rate rental apartments and nearly 100,000 square feet of retail space, starting to bridge the gap between the beachfront and downtown areas.

In North Wildwood, Beckelman helped the town approve a developer last year that is already bringing life to the pre-viously empty Seaport Pier, which anticipates opening up this season.
Giordano, Halleran & Ciesla PC

Somerset Development has relied on Michael Bruno’s know-how expertise to allow it to transform the former Bell Labs R&D facility into the 2 million square foot retail stunner it is today.

“I continue to work on Bell Works almost on a daily basis,” said Bruno, co-chair of Giordano, Halleran & Ciesla PC’s Real Estate, Redevelopment & Planned Real Estate Development practice area.

The developers came to him again for the ongoing redevelopment of Somerville, where he secured subdivision and site plan approval in May for a collaborative project more than 10 years in the making. The project involves New Jersey Transit, Somerville and the developers, featuring a mix of rental apartments, for-sale townhomes, commercial space and community areas.

“It’s part of the success story of revitalizing some of the downtown areas that needed to be revitalized,” Bruno said. “Retail has totally changed. [We’re] bringing life back to the downtown areas.”

He’s also had his hand in many of the redevelopment projects on the former Fort Monmouth Army Base property, including the ongoing development of Commvault’s worldwide headquarters.
Connell Foley LLP

When Seaview Development Corp. wanted to breathe life into the long-abandoned Krueger-Scott Mansion at the corner of Court Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard in Newark, Jennifer Carrillo-Perez was an obvious choice for counsel.

The Newark native, who is of counsel for Connell Foley LLP, has focused her practice almost entirely on real estate and land-use cases in Brick City, and today has a direct hand in its development.

Carrillo-Perez secured preliminary site plan approval just a few weeks ago to turn the Krueger-Scott Mansion into a makers village, where 16 of 66 residential units will be paired with an equal number of retail commercial spaces filled with residents participating in a business incubator program.

“What’s important is the concept,” Carrillo-Perez said. “This isn’t foreign to other states, but it’s fairly new here.”

Carrillo-Perez also helped get large housing projects approved in downtown Newark and near Weequahic Park, kicking off the creation of 300 residential units — almost half of them with parking, and a large portion affordable to people making 60 percent of the local median income.
Sills Cummis & Gross PC

At North Arlington's Queen of Peace High School, Michael Carucci both found his calling as a lawyer and met his future wife.

His experiences inspired him to give back to his alma mater, creating an alumni association to support QPHS by estab-lishing scholarships for students and networking infrastructure for fellow alums.

The school's president dropped a major truth bomb during their first board meeting: The school was in serious finan-cial trouble, and if the group didn't raise $1 million in the next six weeks it would have to close.

Carucci, a member of the Litigation Practice Group at Sills Cummis & Gross PC, and about 20 fellow board members got to work. He created a campaign on gofundme.com; the team held a rally for the school and scheduled press inter-views, while each personally solicited major donors.

They met their mark — $1 million within six weeks. Within a couple more months, they'd secured a total $1.7 million.

The 2016-17 school year went off without a hitch, but in June, Carucci and the QPHS community were hit with some terrible news: In the wake of greater-than-expected financial challenges, the Archdiocese of Newark was closing the school.

Carucci was devastated.

“[But] we don't regret for one minute what we did to save the school, because we believed in the mission of the school and the good that it did for us,” he said. “We wanted other students in the future to benefit like we did.”

His commitment to education — which he attributes to the dedication of his mother, a longtime schoolteacher — con-tinues. He was appointed as a commissioner this year to the New Jersey School Ethics Commission, and he's also in-volved in raising money to demolish and rebuild the playground at Sacred Heart School in Lyndhurst, where he at-tended elementary school.

When Bill Caruso helped start New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform in 2014, some colleagues told him he was throwing away his legal career.

The legislators whom he lobbied would snicker, and when they were done, he said, “We were told this was a waste of time; Chris Christie said it to me himself.”

Fast-forward to 2017, when Gov.-elect Phil Murphy named him to his transition advisory team. Through NJUMR, Caru-so, who is of counsel at Archer, had been working with Murphy for a year prior to his candidacy.

The goal of NJUMR had always been to eliminate the question of legalization and make it when, not if, and why, not how.

“Most of the advocacy effort was for the public and whoever the governor was going to be,” he said. “I think that’s what we did, because it was a paramount issue in [Murphy’s] campaign.”

In the last year, Caruso helped run trips out West to states with legal cannabis for legislators who were maybe on the fence about legalizing it here in Jersey. The idea was to find the argument that worked for each individual.

“I’ve had half a dozen conversations with legislators who were not comfortable with this and now they are,” he said. “I’ve had legislators wag their finger at me, ‘Don’t you dare sell me on the money.’ I had a legislator tell me their top concern was that kids were going to get a hold of this. I can’t assure them. But I can say, ‘They’re getting a hold of it now, and what they’re getting a hold of isn’t regulated.”
Archer/Mandelbaum Salsburg PC

If you’re offended by their name, tough luck: Simon Tam and his Asian-American rock group The Slants have a right to trademark their band name, even if it’s disparaging to some.

That’s what the U.S. Supreme Court decided last year in a significant First Amendment case. A trio of New Jersey law-yers represented the rocker pro bono – John Connell from Archer, along with Ron Coleman and Joel MacMull, both now with Mandelbaum Salsburg PC but on Archer’s team during Matel v. Tam.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had rejected Tam’s attempts to trademark the name, saying it violated the dis-paragement clause of the Lanham Act, the primary federal trademark statute in the U.S. Until it reached the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., it was technically a trademark issue — until the presiding judge suggested the clause needed to be revisited as potentially being in violation of the First Amendment.

As one of Archer’s most seasoned appellate lawyers, Connell argued the case, though Coleman and MacMull had been on the case longer and therefore had a heavy hand in prepping him.

In a parallel universe, the USPTO’s cancellation proceedings against the Washington Redskins football team were mak-ing national headlines. Within a month of Tam’s win, the government withdrew those proceedings based on the Su-preme Court’s ruling. Now, no matter how offensive a name is, the USPTO can’t look at it as grounds to reject registra-tion.
Brach Eichler LLC

The rules and regulations in the health care industry are ever-changing, but one thing stays the same: John Fanburg, chair of Brach Eichler LLC’s Health Law practice, has represented some of the state’s biggest physician health care trade associations for over 20 years.

Two major laws changed within the last year. On his way out, Gov. Chris Christie signed a law that requires registered surgical practices to become licensed as ambulatory surgical centers. So those soon-to-be-former registered surgical practices governed by the Board of Medical Examiners will be governed by the stricter Department of Health.

The other big change requires insurance companies and physicians to inform a patient about the economic impact of being seen by a physician that is out-of-network.

Fanburg helps his clients navigate these changes. He represents five physician’s associations: Radiological Society of New Jersey, New Jersey Obstetrical and Gynecological Society, New Jersey Association of Ambulatory Surgery Cen-ters, Pathology Society of New Jersey and New Jersey State Society of Anesthesiologists.

“As general counsel, I work with the organizations’ lobbyists in dealing with initiatives because I understand more how new legislation will impact physicians who are really interested in providing good medicine to patients,” Fanburg said.
McCarter & English LLP

Veteran land-use and redevelopment attorney Frank Ferruggia, a partner at McCarter & English LLP, has spent dec-ades representing property owners, appealing unduly high property assessments levied by municipalities.

In recent years, a shift has occurred, as municipalities began appealing their own assessments as being too low.

The strategy puts property owners — and Ferruggia, as their attorney — on the defensive.

“Being in a defensive posture is easier,” he mused. “With the property owner on defense, the burden of proof is on the municipality.”

When one multifamily residential project with hundreds of units in North Jersey was recently assessed, the town filed an appeal because the property had just been purchased for twice that amount. Ferruggia was able to negotiate a set-tlement down to 150 percent of the original assessment.

For multiunit properties, Ferruggia said the increase in value likely comes from millennials opting out of the single-family, white-picket-fence lifestyle.

“Millennials would rather go to the museum than mow their lawns on a Saturday,” he said. “… We know [these multi-unit properties] are going to get an increase, but [we] try to keep the increase as low as possible.”
Day Pitney LLP

A partner in Day Pitney LLP's Complex Commercial Litigation practice, Mike Furey has been at the forefront of an oft-publicized case against Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, representing three hospitals that believe they were unfairly excluded from its OMNIA Tier 1 health plan and its lower patient copays and deductibles.

Though the case is ongoing, a judge issued a decision in April in support of Furey's clients CentraState Medical Center in Freehold, Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck and Valley Hospital in Ridgewood in their complaint against Horizon, saying the insurance company needed to publicly disclose how the plans were created.

“There is a broad, legitimate, immediate public interest in how health care is delivered in the state, how patients are insured and how they are incentivized to be evaluated, tested and treated by particular providers. Nothing I deal with in Chancery has more immediate, acute public impact [than] these matters,” wrote Bergen County Superior Court Judge Robert Contillo in his decision.

“With Judge Contillo's decision, the public should finally have an opportunity to learn the truth behind OMNIA. If Hori-zon truly believes that health care is an important issue to the public, then it should stop its efforts to hide the docu-ments,” Furey told NJBIZ in April.

No stranger to the New Jersey Supreme Court, which he's appeared in front of on multiple occasions (for this case and others) and chaired its Disciplinary Oversight Committee for 15 years, Furey recently was selected to serve on a com-mittee to review proposed changes to the Rules on Professional Conduct.
Calcagni & Kanefsky LLP

When Martin Gandelman’s client Zohar Hod filed suit in Hudson County Superior Court against three executives at Viewtrade Holdings claiming they had divested him of majority shareholder rights without notification, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss arguing Viewtrade was incorporated in Delaware and must use Delaware courts.

At the time, there was no precedent to bring a case concerning a company incorporated elsewhere to a court in New Jersey. But Gandelman, an associate with Calcagni & Kanefsky LLP, asserted that because the company itself was based in Jersey City and most of the key parties lived and worked in New Jersey, any issues should be allowed to be heard in court here.

The court agreed with him.

“It sets a good precedent,” Gandelman said. “There are many companies entirely [operating] in New Jersey that are incorporated in Delaware. Where all the conduct is happening in New Jersey and the key players are in New Jersey, it’s important that we can bring the case here because it’s so much more difficult to bring that type of case out of state. This is the protection of New Jersey investors’ rights.”

The case is pending in Hudson County.
Fox Rothschild LLP

The Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation is one of New Jersey’s largest, made up of about 400 families, and lifelong member Harry Jackson III is one of a nine-member Tribal Council tasked with its legislative governance.

Jackson is also an associate in Fox Rothschild LLP’s corporate department and as the only lawyer on the Tribal Council plays a big part in coding tribal laws.

In the past year, Jackson and the council have developed tribal law regarding the use of tribal property and intellectual property protection.

“Part of my responsibility is that our tribal laws are consistent, troubleshooting and look into the future to make sure everything is written as clearly as possible,” he said.

The leadership at Fox Rothschild recently approached Jackson about starting a Native American practice group as a chance for everyone who works with tribes to convene and assist one another in matters of tribal or federal law, and it’s in the works.

Jackson also assisted with the state Casino Control Commission’s licensing of personnel for Atlantic City’s new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Schenck, Price, Smith & King LLP

A member of Gov. Phil Murphy’s Diversity and Inclusion Council and president of the South Asian Bar Association of New Jersey, Sharmila Jaipersaud, a partner at Schenck, Price, Smith & King LLP, has made it her mission to help attor-neys of different races and colors find partnership tracks at their respective firms.

Ask Jaipersaud for ladder-climbing advice and she’ll tell you it’s about two things: marketing and rainmaking.

“A lot of young attorneys don’t know what to do. It’s sitting down with your managing partner and having lunch with him,” she said. “I tell any young attorney that I meet, I tell them to call me.”

Jaipersaud, a member of the firm’s Health Care and Corporate Business Practice groups, was elevated from associate to partner within four years of joining. Though she had mentors who taught her how to drum up business, she said, “I didn’t have a discussion like this with people who looked like me and talked like me to talk about the hardships they’ve faced. But I’m here now, I’ve become a partner, so I feel like it’s my duty.”

At SABA-NJ, Jaipersaud has created programs that guide young South Asian attorneys on how to bring in business as well as find a track to their legal dream job, be it partnership, in-house counsel or even politician.
McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter LLP

When people of color and women don’t see others like themselves moving up the ladder at a law firm, they don’t stay.

Larry Lawson wants them to stay.

Lawson chairs McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter LLP’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee, which runs a variety of programs committed to recruiting and retaining minorities. Last year, the committee offered implicit bias training to attendees (mostly partners) at its firm-wide annual retreat. This year, the firm will offer the training to all staff — legal assistants, paralegals, mail clerks and others — to ensure fairness on all levels.

Under Lawson’s direction, the committee has created a sponsorship program in which senior partners take second- and third-year associates under their wings, bringing them to meetings and giving them the opportunity to get on a partnership track. Lawson hopes to implement the program in the fall.

“Corporations want to see more diversity in who works on their matters,” he said. “It’s not enough to say, ‘Oh, I have 25 people of color and women in my firm.’ No [they] want to see them work on and participate on the files. And even without that, it’s the right thing to do.”

A retired judge, Lawson was the first African-American to sit on the bench in Monmouth County.
Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP

Celgene Corp., Merck & Co. and Johnson & Johnson are just some of the pharmaceutical giants that trust Charles Lizza to protect their drug patents.

Cases related to Abbreviated New Drug Applications – generic drug approval for an existing licensed medication – rose 30 percent in 2017, and the bevy of big pharma companies here make New Jersey a hotbed.

Lizza, a partner in the Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences practices at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP and leader of its ANDA group, said companies from all over the world file their ANDA cases in New Jersey because the judges here are so familiar with them.

“Litigants, both plaintiffs and defendants, appreciate an element of certainty and predictability in the way cases will be managed by the courts; that’s why these cases are filed here,” said Lizza, whose practice ranks fourth in the nation, according to Lex Machina, an IP litigation research group.

Lizza said he and his team have about 75 ANDA cases pending.
Greenbaum Rowe Smith & Davis LLP

With two small kids, a working husband and elderly parents, Jemi Goulian Lucey’s personal life is a busy one.

That should not preclude her from excelling in her legal career and, she says, it shouldn’t prevent other female attor-neys either.

Goulian Lucey’s experience second-chairing several recent trials inspired the state of New Jersey to retain her as first-chair for seven employment law cases, including two in federal court. She wants to see more women at her level.

Her brainchild event is the Association of the Federal Bar of New Jersey’s A Woman’s Place is in the Courtroom, which focused on giving women a pathway to first-chair positions. The May event was such a success that her firm, Green-baum Rowe Smith & Davis LLP, has been asked to sponsor a forum in July on increasing diversity in first-chair positions, with a focus on minorities.

“Where someone has the raw talent, you need to find pathways to leadership,” Goulian Lucey said. “If you’re only giving access to the best assignments to men because you believe they’re the ones with the level of commitment … there shouldn’t be a presumption that women aren’t up to the opportunity.”
Bressler, Amery & Ross PC

Asked to appear as a friend of the court in the appellate division in March for the real estate case Bianchi v. Ladjen, Bressler, Amery & Ross PC Principal Diana Manning argued that if an expert’s opinion relied on subjective opinion ra-ther than objective fact, it could be considered insufficient.

The panel of judges agreed.

In legal malpractice claims, this judicial opinion now provides guidance to lawyers looking to prosecute or defend a claim.

“Unlike a field like medicine or engineering, the legal field is very subjective,” Manning said. “Lawyers can always have difference of opinion and what’s necessary to determine the standard of care and what’s needed for criteria is im-portant.”

Manning also recently submitted a brief to the New Jersey Supreme Court for a case to determine whether or not the entire controversy doctrine – which precludes fragmentary claims and litigation – applies to claims of fees made by lawyers.

The case, Dimitrakopoulos v. Borrus, Goldin, Foley, Vignuolo, Hyman & Stahl PC et al., involves whether the former clients can bring a legal malpractice claim years after the attorneys successfully brought a claim for fees, or whether the claim is barred by the entire controversy doctrine. (In general, for all other professionals, the claim would be barred.)

Appearing as friend of the court as New Jersey State Bar Association Amicus Committee vice chair, Manning argued in her brief the legal malpractice claims should have been brought at the same time as the attorneys’ claim to be paid their fees.

The Supreme Court is set to hear the case in fall.
Connell Foley LLP

For the first time ever, Jersey City will have affordable waterfront housing.

When W. Nevins McCann successfully obtained a finance package for his clients Forest City Residential Group and G&S Investors that included redevelopment bonds, a tax abatement from Jersey City and a grant from the Economic De-velopment Authority, their 19-acre mixed-use project Harsimus Cove Station was able to reach fruition.

The 12-phase site, including 828,000 square feet of retail space and approximately 6,000 residential units, is underway with Phase 1b, a residential tower with about 400 units, already built and fully leased.

McCann, co-chair of Connell Foley LLP's Real Estate and Land Use Group, is on the front lines of economic and real es-tate development on the Gold Coast of Hudson County. He's currently representing New Liberty Residential Co. in the final phase of its waterfront condo development Port Liberte, and regional discount retailer C. H. Martin Co. in its real estate repurposing process. With McCann's guiding hand, its stores will be getting a new lease on life as residential towers and boutique hotels.

“Wherever they are and wherever it's appropriate to do, we're repurposing their assets to maximize the highest and best use of their properties,” McCann said.
Goldman, Davis & Gutfleish PC

J obless benefits can’t be deducted from back-pay awards in New Jersey Law Against Discrimination cases, following a 2017 appellate court ruling after Goldman, Davis & Gutfleish PC Partner Kathryn McClure appeared as a friend of the court in Acevedo v. Flightsafety International.

The plaintiff had won his case, but McClure stepped in when the trial judge reduced a $83,000 award by $14,000 to ac-count for unemployment insurance he’d received.

As a representative of the National Employment Lawyers Association-New Jersey, McClure wrote that the collateral source statute, which allows a plaintiff’s benefits to be offset by other collateral benefits in certain civil actions, did not apply to LAD based on the statute’s original purpose. Again, the appellate division agreed.

Beyond McClure’s employment law practice is her personal passion: advocating for common sense gun laws. In 2006, her sister was shot in the head by her then-husband, who had previously surrendered his firearms after a psychiatrist deemed him too dangerous. He subsequently bought another handgun and shot his wife.

Earlier this year, McClure met with U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and the staff of U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-11th District, to talk about gun legislation, and testified in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee on the high financial impact of gun violence in New Jersey, estimated by the Giffords Law Center at $1.2 billion per year including $273 million picked up by taxpayers.
Connell Foley LLP

It’s the oldest pending civil case in the state, filed in 1996.

Electronics manufacturer Cornell Dubilier was allegedly responsible for over $400 million in damages at a contaminated site in South Plainfield and through secret negotiations with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency entered into an agreement that would have put the burden on its insurance company, CNA Financial Corp., to pay the government.

In his defense of CNA, Jonathan McHenry, who chairs the Insurance group at Connell Foley LLP, used the loss payable provision in the insurance contract to convince the courts that by not disclosing its EPA negotiations Cornell Dubilier actively concealed its activities, precluding CNA from any liability.

On issue of first impression — no court had ever addressed such a case using the loss payable provision — the court sided with McHenry in 2017, allowing CNA to extricate itself from the case, which is still ongoing.
Fox Rothschild LLP

By the time in June 2017 when 17-year-old Trevor Betts was allowed to legally change his first name from Veronica, it marked the tail end of a three-year court battle between his parents.

Janet Sacklow, Trevor’s mom, was represented by Jennifer Millner, a partner at Fox Rothschild LLP. Sacklow supported her transgender child’s desire to change his name; Trevor’s father, Richard Betts, fought it tooth and nail.

Trevor had been known by his preferred name at school for several years before it was time to get his driver’s license and passport, both of which would require a legal name change. His father continued to fight, but the judge agreed with Millner’s argument that the name change was in the child’s best interests.

This case marked the first time a judge had ruled on a contested name change for a child, according to Millner. This month, she filed one more name change for Trevor — this time, for his surname.

“He’s always had a difficult relationship with his father and his mother has always been so supportive. I told him for his birthday, once he turned 18, his next name change was on me,” Millner said. “I told him that if he still felt that way I would do that for him.”
Gibbons PC

Mary Frances Palisano runs the pro bono program at Gibbons PC, and after taking various special education child-advocacy cases, she realized even high-income families had difficulty getting their children into necessary programs, sometimes having to sue school districts to make things happen.

Palisano and Debra Clifford, directors in the firm’s Commercial & Criminal Litigation department, saw a place in Gibbons — which primarily handles corporate clients — for a child-advocacy practice. Meantime, New Jersey’s autism rate is the highest in the U.S. at 1 in 34, according to Autism New Jersey.

“Combine that with budget cuts and fights over funding, you’re dealing with a lot of children who need resources,” Clifford said. “We crunched the numbers and approached management. … This is a business, and Gibbons doesn’t launch new practice areas every day.”

Managing Partner Patrick Dunican gave it the go-ahead, and the duo officially launched their practice in June.

“What’s really interesting is that it stemmed from pro bono work,” Palisano said. “We found a need and we’ve ex-panded it.”
Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP

Just as technology changed the way people handle banking with PayPal, Venmo and cryptocurrency, it’s now changing the insurance industry.

Associate Valerie Pennacchio, insurance attorney and self-proclaimed technophile, was solicited by her firm, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP, to help create a practice group focused on InsurTech, the insurance industry’s initiative to use technology innovation to deliver insurance products and services.

With peer-to-peer insurance companies such as Lemonade cutting out the middleman and relying on blockchain and smart contracts, Pennacchio and her team are counseling clients on how to implement new innovations in an industry in which the regulatory framework was developed without the foresight of fast-paced change. Their InsurTech prac-tice is one of only a handful in the U.S.

Say you have drought insurance with a smart contract that monitors rainfall. If the rainfall falls under a certain level, you get an insurance payment.

“Because we’ll have the power to more specifically assess risk [InsurTech products] premiums will better reflect that and people will buy products for their specific needs,” Pennacchio said. “It’ll be more affordable for the consumer and a cost benefit for the insurer. It’s a win-win situation.”
Decotiis FitzPatrick Cole & Giblin LLP

The number of casualties in Puerto Rico from the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria is staggering: an estimated 4,600 people died from the September storm, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.

New Jersey has the third-highest Puerto Rican population in the continental U.S., so it made sense Gov. Phil Murphy would create the New Jersey Commission on Puerto Rico Relief for Garden State residents to help in its aftermath.

Murphy tapped Arlene Perez, partner at Decotiis FitzPatrick Cole & Giblin LLP, to sit on the commission.

“We ordered $8,000 worth of stuff from Amazon,” Perez said. “Water, water-purifying pens, solar lights, a number of cots, five generators, diapers, bandages — the stores didn’t have anything at all. And tampons … not everyone thinks of those things.”

Perez is equal parts lawyer and elected official, having served as the only Hispanic councilwoman from District 16 in Hunterdon County and currently as the Democratic chair.

“When I came in as chair, we basically changed the way we were running our elections,” she said. “We focused more on making sure that we were being successful on the local level and that that increased our ability to turn out on the national level.”

For the first time ever, both Assembly seats in District 16 are held by Democrats.
McElroy Deutsch Mulvaney & Carpenter LLP

The dream of legalized sports betting in New Jersey may not have been realized if McElroy & Deutsch LLP Counsel Ron Riccio hadn’t convinced the U.S. Supreme Court that it was a state’s rights issue.

And Riccio might not have convinced the justices without the help of Elliot Berman, his co-counsel and longtime practi-tioner of commercial litigation, who helped write the brief.

“In regard [to state sovereignty], it’s a landmark decision,” said Riccio in May after the court released its opinion. “I think it’s going to expand beyond just sports betting into other interrelationships between the federal and state gov-ernment.”

A former dean of Seton Hall Law School, Riccio was tapped for the case based on his 20 years of experience teaching constitutional law – and perhaps his love of the ponies. “I’m an avid fan of thoroughbred horse racing,” he said with a laugh.

It was the age-old debate between the power of the federal government and the autonomy of states. Now, because of work by Riccio and Berman, it’s up to the states themselves to decide if they want to legalize sports betting or not.
Stark & Stark

When Kelley Mahan sustained severe injuries in a car accident in 2014, the insurance company offered her only $15,000 — the minimum permitted to under state law — to cover the damages.

The law is woefully behind, her attorney David Schmid argued, leaving motorists and pedestrians without a reasonable source for fair compensation in the event of serious injury. Schmid got a jury to agree, and earlier this month it award-ed Mahan $1.2 million, or 80 times what she was originally offered.

“The insurance industry uses its resources and influence to prevent any meaningful increase to New Jersey’s mini-mum liability insurance coverage limits,” said Schmid, an associate at Stark & Stark.

This case and the resulting verdict represent, he believes, a wake-up call for the Legislature to take a stand against the insurance industry and its lobby and raise the minimum liability coverage law to a reasonable level.
Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf LLP

Robert Schwartz has had a busy spring: He represented banks in three high-profile mergers and acquisitions totaling more than $10 million in cash transaction value.

Schwartz, a partner in Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf LLP’s Banking practice specializing in mergers and acquisitions, represented New Jersey Community Bank in a $7.6 million transaction when it was acquired in April by 1st Constitution Bank. More recently, his client Indus-American Bancorp entered into a merger agreement with BCB Bancorp, which is now expected to acquire IAB.

Wawel Bank, a financial institution that previously was deemed troubled due to bad real estate deals, called on Schwartz for his counsel in its merger agreement with Spencer Savings Bank. Because its structure as a mutual holding company made it challenging to raise capital on its own, Schwartz said, it needed a buyer to ensure it wouldn’t fail. In March, Schwartz helped Wawel close on a merger agreement valued at $3.4 million.

“From 2008 to 2012, I was spending a lot of my time trying to help banks get out of trouble, and that can be difficult,” he said. “Now we’re working more with banks trying to expand their business and buy other banks, or groups that de-cide it’s a good time to cash out and get a return for their shareholders by selling. It’s always more fun to help people make money than it is to get them out of trouble.”
Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti LLP

The New Jersey Site Remediation Reform Act completely flipped the script on how contaminated sites in the state are cleaned up by creating the Licensed Site Remediation Professionals program, which removed backlogs at the Environ-mental Protection Agency and promoted redevelopment of brownfields.

That was in 2009, and Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti LLP’s Steve Senior helped develop it. Today, Senior, a partner in the firm’s Environmental Group, is working with others on the next round of reform, dubbed SRRA 2.0.

“SRRA 2.0 is about taking the next step with the program to make sure we’re giving the developers the right set of protections and incentives to [redevelop],” said Senior. “It’s an initiative to improve upon the success of the LSRP pro-gram.”

Senior is bringing together organizations like New Jersey Builders Association, South Jersey Chamber of Commerce and National Association for Industrial and Office Parks, as well as Sen. Bob Smith, D-17th District, and the DEP to work on the initiative, keeping New Jersey at the leading edge of balanced redevelopment policy in action.

Senior’s hard work has not gone unrewarded: Then-Gov.-elect Phil Murphy tapped him to serve on the Smart Growth Economic Development Coalition’s Regulatory and Environmental Committee to advise him and his team on policies that would fuel economic growth and development.
Scarinci Hollenbeck LLC

A rising star at Scarinci Hollenbeck LLC, litigator Roshan Shah was tapped to write a brief for the New Jersey Supreme Court in a years-long legal tussle between electronics maker Maxell Corp. of America and Ergowerx International, which makes ergonomic devices for computer applications.

The legal saga began in August 2013 when Ergowerx, which does business as Smartfish, filed a 13-count complaint against Maxell in New York federal court, asking for $15 million in damages by alleging breach of contract, fraud, con-version, patent infringement, trademark infringement and unjust enrichment, among other claims.

Smartfish alleged Maxell reneged on an agreement to sell its keyboards and mice. A series of dismissals and a reasser-tion of Ergowerx’s claims in Bergen County Superior Court landed the case with Shah, who joined the team represent-ing Maxell.

In his appeal to the New Jersey Supreme Court, Shah argued the county court’s decision not to dismiss charges against Maxell that previously were dismissed in federal court “strikes at the integrity of federal judicial power.”

The Supreme Court agreed, sending the case back to the Appellate Division, which last July dismissed all but one of Smartfish’s claims, a $1.8 million breach of contract allegation.

Scarinci Hollenbeck’s appeal included not only a victory in the Appellate Division but also a successful motion for leave to appeal in the Supreme Court, which is considered a rarity in commercial cases.
Smith Mullin PC

Nancy Erika Smith of Smith Mullin PC is a prominent face of the #MeToo movement.

This spring, she blocked former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly’s attempt to keep under wraps the details of a settlements he arranged with women who had accused him of sexual harassment.

Representing clients Rebecca Gomez Diamond and Andrea Mackris, Smith argued the public’s right to see the docu-ments was not mitigated by O’Reilly’s celebrity, thus helping open the door to the details of the settlements. In Mackris’ case she had been required to say nothing wrongful had happened.

Smith was thrown into the spotlight in 2016 when representing news anchor Gretchen Carlson in a harassment suit against then-Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, but her career representing plaintiffs in employment law cases spans nearly four decades.

Along with Neil Mullin, a partner in the firm, Smith most recently championed a law banning nondisclosure agree-ments in workplace harassment cases. It passed in the state Senate earlier this month and needs to be approved by the Assembly before it lands on Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk.
McCarter & English LLP

New Jersey’s potential in the tech and startup spheres is immense, but developer Somerset Development felt the state was lacking a center of commerce and interaction when it created the massive live-work mecca Bell Works in Holmdel.

Sean Donahue, manager at Bell Works’ Co-lab, chose David Sorin, co-chair of McCarter & English LLP’s Venture Capital and Emerging Growth Companies practice, to bring programs for networking and learning to the co-working space.

Those programs have since spawned a sort of “office hours” relationship between Co-lab and Sorin. He and his team meet with entrepreneurs weekly on a pro-bono basis to discuss legal and operational issues, company formation, in-tellectual property issues and cost-benefit analyses.

“We’re thought leaders in the marketplace and do more representation of entrepreneurs and tech companies than anywhere else in the state, [so] we decided we wanted to bring that to this ecosystem,” Sorin said.
Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf LLP

New Brunswick is a hub for the New Jersey theater world, boasting the State Theatre and two other venues within a couple miles of each other. You can never have too much culture, though, so the Hub City is getting two more — and Julie Tattoni is playing a lead role.

Tattoni, special counsel in Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf LLP’s Redevelopment practice who counts Newark’s New Jersey Performing Arts Center among her clients, is part of a team representing New Brunswick Development Corp. in its $180 million development of a cultural complex downtown.

The project includes two theaters, rehearsal spaces, 4,200 square feet of space for cultural use, academic space, office space, a multilevel parking garage with room for 350 cars and 270 rental units. Twenty percent of the rental units are designated affordable housing. In October, Tattoni helped secure significant additional tax credits for the project.

“Tax credits are an integral part of the financing,” she said. “This project was exciting because it brought together quite a few stakeholders — the city, the county, various cultural institutions, Rutgers — and we hope it’ll bring a lot of activi-ty and cultural entertainment for folks coming into New Brunswick.”
Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti LLP

Frank Vitolo is well-connected.

Take his 10 years of running the Republican Party in Morristown and add that to his current board positions at the Mor-ristown Partnership and Morris Arts, and you have the go-to lawyer for some of the town’s larger land-use projects. Whether politician or developer, he knows ’em all.

Earlier this year, Vitolo, a partner with Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti LLP, was instrumental in helping his client Sunstone Hotels secure approvals for the first boutique hotel in Morristown in 30 years. This was despite pushback from the owners of the Hyatt Regency property in town (not the hotel itself, but its landlord) and unique parking chal-lenges — specifically, that there was none. Vitolo managed to structure a first-of-its-kind deal with the Morristown Parking Authority under which 100 percent of the hotel parking would be valet.

“We have to come up with creative solutions to park these larger projects,” he said. “There’s only so much room or land, and it’s usually prohibitively expensive to do above or below grade parking in Morristown.”

With the help of engineers and traffic and parking experts, Vitolo was able to prove to the planning board that Sun-stone Hotels could make it work.
Day Pitney LLP

Combine David Waizer's work as general counsel at a Fortune 500 company and a venture-backed company with his experience on the other side of the table at Lakewood-based Rein Capital, and you get a 360-degree view of the en-trepreneurial ecosystem.

Day Pitney LLP knew that when it tapped him last year to structure and expand their startup practice, which this month hosted Waizer's brainchild event that put nine businesses referred by Israel's Economic Mission to North America in front of venture capitalists from the firm's Family Office practice.

“One of the challenges facing some family offices is that it can be hard to find qualified companies,” said Waizer, a partner in the firm’s Corporate and Business Law Department. “We wanted to create an environment to create high quality deal flow to the family office audience.”

Waizer also is one of eight mentors who guide students in Rutgers University's Collaborative for Technology Entrepre-neurship and Commercialization, through which Ph.D. and MBA candidates take school patents and create business plans around them.

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Eldonie June 26, 2018 10:42 am

There are no black women lawyers anywhere to be found? The diversity of this list is lacking and reflects the sad state of the legal profession.