Helmed by the former chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey who found himself at the heart of scrutiny around Bridgegate, the law firm of Wolff Samson is set to transition to the Jeff Chiesa era, PolitickerNJ has learned.
According to a source familiar with the inner workings of the massive firm, David Samson will retire, and Chiesa, the close confidant of Gov. Chris Christie and former Attorney General, will move into a leadership role.
His name will join those of others in title of the revamped firm.
The source said most or all of the attorneys at the firm intend to remain in the new iteration of the firm.
A second source told PolitickerNJ that Chiesa has undertaken an obvious expanded role at the firm in recent months.
The change occurs as the entire state’s political establishment continues to wait for an outcome in the Bridgegate case, which is under investigation by the feds.
Samson served as New Jersey Attorney General from 2002-2003. Christie nominated him to serve on the Port Authority on September 30, 2010. He became the chairman of the Port Authority in 2011 and resigned amid Bridgegate blow back in March of 2014.
Following PolitickerNJ’s initial story, Wolff Samson issued a release acknowledging the changes.
Specifically, the firm announced:
Reorganization of the Executive Committee, with eight senior partners, to guide strategy and continued firm-wide growth. Two co-chairmen of the Executive Committee were named: Armen Shahinian, a partner in the firm for more than 38 years and one of the most respected surety, commercial crime insurance and construction litigation attorneys in the nation, who heads the firm’s national Fidelity and Surety Practice; and Jeff Chiesa, a partner since 2013 and formerly U.S. Senator and Attorney General for the State of New Jersey.
Appointment of new firm-wide Co-Managing Directors: Ross Pearlson, a partner since 2011 who co-chairs the firm’s Litigation Department and previously served as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; and Jeff Weinick, a partner since 2009 who co-chairs the firm’s Intellectual Property Group and previously was the founder of IP boutique firm Weinick &Associates.
O Reflecting growth, the firm also said that six new partners have joined in the last two years as part of a total of 29 new attorney hires (partners, counsel and associates) during this period. The firm also has entered into a new 10 year lease for its primary office in West Orange, including an additional 11,000 square feet to accommodate anticipated future growth.
Name Partner Retirement
Concurrent with these developments the firm also announced the retirement later in April 2015 of the name founding partner, David Samson, age 75 (pictured above). As part of the leadership transition, the firm also announced a new name reflecting the new leadership structure.
Firm spokesperson Mark Weiss said: “After heading the firm and working relentlessly for 43 years, David Samson has been planning his ultimate retirement and leadership succession for some time. David’s departure is a bittersweet occasion for the firm-wide family. David’s colleagues and many friends will certainly miss him.”
David Samson noted : “I’ve been proud and fortunate to be associated with the firm for more than 43 years. It has been a personal and professional privilege, and I shall miss the relationships of my colleagues, friends and extended legal family.”
Perspective on Firm Growth 2015 and Beyond
Weiss said that this transition positions the firm strongly to capitalize on and even accelerate the growth it has been experiencing across all its practices, including the highly regarded practices in corporate, litigation, government, real estate, intellectual property, environmental and renewable energy. Weiss noted that in 2015 the firm anticipates growth in profits and an increase of attorneys over 2014. “In fact this past March was one of the best business months in the history of the firm. Jobs are being added in the face of this growth.”
New Firm Name
The new name of the firm going forward will be Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi PC. The name reflects the deep bench of firm experience and its new firm-wide leadership: the addition in 2013 of former U.S. Senator and N.J. Attorney General, Jeff Chiesa; the 38 year contribution of partner Armen Shahinian, one of the most respected surety, commercial crime insurance and construction litigation attorneys in the nation; and former Essex County, NJ counsel, Frank Giantomasi, who joined in 2014 after 4.5 years as a named partner at Genova Burns Giantomasi and Webster.
Weiss commented that Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi today is a closely knit, collegial and highly committed group of 130 attorneys. Other key additions to the firm in the last two years include John Scally, formerly partner at Drinker Biddle, as a member of the firm’s Public Finance Department; Scott Zuber, formerly a partner at Wilson Elser, who co-chairs the firm’s Bankruptcy Practice; Dr. Beverly Lubit, formerly a partner at Greenberg Traurig, who joined the firm’s Intellectual Property Group; and Matthew Beck, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey in the firm’s Litigation, White-Collar and Corporate Investigations Practices.
Noting that the vast majority of the firm’s revenue is generated by over 25 partners, Weiss said the firm credits the broad-based revenue contributions of the partners for the prosperity of the firm. “In sum, Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi is in a very strong, competitively advantaged position, both economically and from a professional resource point of view. The firm is well positioned to meet the most complex legal, business and policy challenges facing clients,” said Weiss.