Wakefern is the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the country with 50 members who independently own and operate 353 supermarkets under the ShopRite, The Fresh Grocer, Price Rite and Dearborn Market banners. Factor in corporate structure with all the regulations faced by the food industry and anyone would guess Berger’s job is complex. She joined Wakefern in 2008, making her way from assistant general counsel to vice president of compliance and risk management, group vice president and her most recent position, senior vice president and general counsel for the cooperative. Berger has worked over the last decade on a variety of key matters for Wakefern, including acquisitions, corporate governance, loss prevention, financing, real estate, and risk management. Focused on preserving Wakefern’s longstanding reputation for quality and integrity, she spearheaded the development of a 21st-century Compliance program that emphasizes associate training, reporting and accountability.
McCarter & English, where Boccassini serves as managing partner, has grown to 400-plus attorneys in nine offices. Profits per equity partner increased $66,000 year over year from last year, and firmwide gross revenue jumped $12 million. The firm has attracted some heavy hitters in recent history, including Former Federal District Court Chief Judge Jose Linares, who joined in May after 17 years on the bench. Boccassini was also instrumental in the hiring of Abdul Rehman Khan as the City of Newark’s full-time pro bono fellow, the first position of its kind in Newark. Khan will work with the city’s corporate counsel to assist underserved residents facing eviction and housing-related issues. There are about 40,000 eviction cases each year in Essex County, and the vast majority of tenants face eviction without a lawyer.
Kathleen Boozang, David Lopez, Kimberly Mutcherson
Boozang, Lopez and Mutcherson run the law schools at Seton Hall, Rutgers-Newark and Rutgers-Camden respectively. Lopez joined Rutgers as Co-Dean in August 2018 and was the longest-serving General Counsel of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In that position, Lopez led the litigation program for the nation’s primary administrative agency charged with enforcing federal employment anti-discrimination laws and oversaw 15 regional attorneys and a staff of more than 325 people. Kimberly Mutcherson, a bioethics and health law scholar, was appointed to lead Rutgers-Camden on Jan. 1, becoming the first woman, the first black American, and the first LGBT law dean at the school, according to Rutgers. She was most recently vice dean at the school and her scholarship addresses issues related to reproductive justice, with a particular focus on assisted reproduction and its relationship to how the law understands and constructs the meaning of family, maternal-fetal decision-making and health care decisions for minors. As dean at Seton Hall, Boozang was instrumental in offering law school classes on weekends to accommodate the schedules of students. In the summer of 2016, Boozang asked the faculty curriculum committee to meet to identify alternatives to law school students so they could take classes other than on weeknights in response to their changing needs. Many students are police officers, firefighters, accountants, business and information technology professionals who are working from Monday to Friday and cannot attend classes during the week even in the evenings. In 2017, Seton Hall Law began offering classes on weekend and online.
After the Obama-era U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, Paul Fishman, noisily refused to step down once Donald Trump became president, and the short tenure of William Fitzpatrick, Carpenito has remained a relatively low profile in the political and business realm. Still, the chief federal prosecutor – previously a partner at Alston & Bird LLP where he co-chaired the firm’s Litigation and Trial Practice Group – is a force to be reckoned with. He has prosecuted a variety of high-stakes criminal targets, including a Hudson County health official who accepted bribes for patient referrals, an accountant who embezzled nearly $1 million from her employer, a New Brunswick accountant who skipped $672,000 of tax payments by filing false tax documents, and most famously, Jersey Shore’s Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino over tax evasion charges.
Coscia, a partner in Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, is also the chairman of Amtrak and one of three trustees of the Gateway Development Program Corp., the nonprofit managing the estimated $20 billion bridge and tunnel infrastructure project. It features the replacement of the 108-year-old Hudson River rail tunnels that connect New Jersey with Manhattan and the Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River. In private practice, Coscia has handled corporate litigation and transactions. At Amtrak, he also chairs the audit and finance committee. His past notable stints include the boards of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. The Gateway project is critical, not only to Amtrak and NJ Transit, but to the state and national economies as well. That makes Coscia one of the most important economic actors in the region, but one who faces apparently intractable opposition from Washington.
Profits per partner at Sills Cummis & Gross have grown by 40 percent since Max Crane became managing partner just over a decade ago. The firm generated $90.2 million in revenue in 2018, up just over $3 million from 2017. And Sills Cummis has handled some high-profile cases in the last year, like representing activist investor Third Point LLC in a proxy fight against Campbell Soup Co. in the fall that nabbed Third Point two spots on the soup-maker’s board, and acting as co-counsel in a class action brought by Wyckoff, Glen Rock and Midland Park against the Ridgewood Water Utility to invalidate a 37 percent rate increase over five years.
Michael Critchley, Kevin Marino, Chris Porrino, Herbert Stern, William Tambussi
As Gov. Phil Murphy’s allies focus on allegations that the state’s tax incentive program unfairly benefited powerbroker George Norcross and affiliated businesses, the South Jersey political figure pushed back with an all-star legal team. The group has included counsel for the New Jersey State Legislature and Bridgegate defense attorney Michael Critchley; Chris Christie’s attorney general Chris Porrino, now partner and litigation chair at Lowenstein Sandler; and Norcross’s own defense attorney, William Tambussi from Brown & Connery LLP. Tambussi was the figure who issued letters to the residences of Murphy and Task Force Chair Ronald Chen – rather than their offices – advising them to preserve legal documents in preparation for litigation. Opponents decried the move as an intimidation tactic. And Tambussi serves as the primary legal counsel for several companies named by the task force as beneficiaries of Norcross’ involvement in crafting the legislation. Former federal judge Herbert Stern from Stern Kilcullen & Rufolo, LLC is representing Cooper University Health Care – also highlighted by the task force – where George sits on the board of trustees. Meanwhile white collar criminal defense attorney Kevin Marino of Marino, Tortorella & Boyle, P.C. is representing Parker McCay, the law firm owned by George’s brother Philip, which allegedly had a hand in crafting the incentive program to benefit certain clients.
Deutsch expanded his firm from a two-man outfit in 1983 with the late James Mulvaney to a New Jersey law powerhouse, boasting nearly 300 attorneys in nine states. McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter’s acquisition of 19 lawyers from Graham Curtin was one of the state’s largest law firm deals over the past year and it followed a string of sizeable mergers and acquisitions: 13 lawyers from Kalison, McBride, Jackson & Robertson, P.C. in 2011, and the merger of New England firm Pepe & Hazard LLP the year prior, bringing on 44 attorneys. On the litigation front, last year, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of MDMC client New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association in Murphy v. NCAA, a landmark decision that legalized sports betting and brought a billion dollar industry to New Jersey.
Gibbons may not be the biggest firm in New Jersey, but its influence is undeniable: it’s been the top lawyer-lobbying firm in the state for 11 years running, according to the state Election Law Enforcement Commission. Patrick Dunican has been running the shop since 2004. Law360 called him one of the most innovative managing partners at a U.S. law firm, and named Gibbons a regional powerhouse. Gibbons represented the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority and state in a bid to get the final match of the 2026 FIFA World Cup — expected to be the biggest ever – -scheduled for MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford. Additionally, the firm represented the New Jersey Legislature in the case that forged the way for sports betting legalization; and in the real estate arena, longtime Gibbons clients Ironstate Development Co. and Panepinto Properties unveiled the final phase of a major project that brings 1,500 apartments, a 152-key hotel, 1,000 parking spaces and Columbus Drive retail space to the heart of Jersey City, all with direct access to the Grove Street PATH station in the fall.
The founder of Genova Burns is a fixture in New Jersey’s two biggest cities. Ten years before Amazon.com Inc. considered opening its second headquarters in Newark, Genova moved his firm there from Livingston. He continues to be a champion of the city’s redevelopment efforts. “The city has a variety of assets, from technological to cultural and educational,” he told NJBIZ recently. “There’s high-speed broadband connectivity, and educational institutions to support the labor force.” And last year he was recognized with a Jersey City Leadership Award for his work there. That work continues: In April, he sued the state on behalf of the Jersey City schools seeking more equitable funding.
Giantomasi, a name partner at Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi, has been an expert on real estate matters in the Newark area for more than three decades. He’s redevelopment counsel for the 2 million square foot SJP project near Broad Street Station, which will bring a mix of office, retail, hotel and residential to 3.7 acres in the North Broad Street District. Additionally, he’s redevelopment counsel for the 140-acre site formerly occupied by the NJ Developmental Center in Totowa and a 152.9-acre portion of the MOTBY peninsula in Bayonne, which is currently being redeveloped into state-of-the-art industrial warehouse space.
As partner at Newark’s McCarter & English, Feeney represents hospitals and health care facilities statewide in property tax disputes. Through trials, appeals, negotiations and legislation, she has helped create a New Jersey property taxation landscape that allows hospitals, health care systems and other entities to operate cost-effectively and efficiently. Perhaps best known for recent tax court and appellate cases that clarified what constitutes legitimate exemptions for health care companies and expanded the state’s definition of hospital purpose. Working with the New Jersey Hospitals Association and government affairs officials at various health care systems, she helps write and secure approval of legislation that would resolve taxation issues for hospitals statewide. She routinely litigates property tax appeals, and she represented Hunterdon Medical Center before the state Supreme Court in a case against the Township of Readington, securing a holding that under New Jersey’s property tax exemption statute, any medical or diagnostic service a hospital patient may require constitutes a core “hospital purpose” and that when an off-site facility provides those services, tax exemption requires an evaluation of the degree to which its activities are integrated with a hospital and supervised by hospital personnel.
Gavzy serves as executive vice president and chief legal officer, Transactions and Corporate Services for Hackensack Meridian Health. She previously served as senior vice president of Legal Affairs and General Counsel for Meridian Health System, responsible for initiating, overseeing, and coordinating all legal services for the health system, and guiding it through the evolving health care landscape. Before joining Meridian Health System, Gavzy was a partner at Kalison & McBride PA in Liberty Corner, and a partner at Norris, McLaughlin and Marcus in Somerville. She is a member of the American Health Lawyers Association and the Health Care Roundtable, a limited membership group of chief legal officers from around the country. Gavzy has been named by NJBIZ as one of the 50 Best Women in Business as a General Counsel of the Year. Gavzy is also a First Chair Award Recipient, which recognizes America’s most innovative and accomplished in-house counsel for their achievements and contributions to the legal community.
Dara Aquila Govan
Govan is president of the Garden State Bar Association. A current Assistant U.S. Attorney for New Jersey and a former Riker Danzig associate, Govan recruited 100 young lawyers throughout the National Bar Association to volunteer one hour per month to perform community outreach to a different group of at least 10 children or adults. The National Bar Association was founded in 1925 and is the oldest and largest nationwide organization for black American lawyers. When she was an associate in Riker Danzig’s litigation group, Govan practiced in a wide range of commercial, litigation and financial service matters and business disputes. She presents on Prosecuting Bias Crimes and Criminal Civil Rights cases and currently serves on the New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on Character for the Morris and Sussex County Vicinage. She is currently serving as the Chief of the Public Protection Unit, where she manages and trains newly-minted Assistant United States Attorneys. Prior to that, she served as an AUSA in the General Crimes, Organized Crime/Gangs, Economic Crimes and Cyber Crimes Unit.
Harris was appointed executive vice president and general counsel for Prudential Financial in October 2015, serving as the head of Law, Compliance, Business Ethics and External Affairs. He was appointed deputy general counsel of Prudential in 2008, serving as chief legal officer for Prudential’s U.S. Businesses. His role expanded to include chief operating officer of LCBE in 2014, while he continued the deputy general counsel role. Before assuming his current role, Harris served as chief investment counsel for Prudential from 2005 through 2008, and earlier was the chief legal officer of Prudential Annuities. Harris also previously served as the chief legal officer for Retirement Services and Prudential Asia. In addition to his legal roles, Harris served as chief risk officer for Prudential Investments, responsible for qualitative and quantitative risk assessment and management initiatives across Prudential’s retail investment product businesses. He has published articles and spoken at industry conferences on asset management, annuities and broker-dealer legal, compliance and product development issues. He has served as an editor for The Business Lawyer and as a member of the originating Board for Business Law Today. Harris also serves on the Executive Committee and Board of Trustees of NJ LEEP, a high school enrichment program in Newark.
Kizis, a shareholder at Wilentz, is the past president of the NJ Association for Justice (formerly ATLA-NJ). She is co-chair of Wilentz’s Mass Tort/Class Action group and has been an attorney at the firm since 1989. In her practice, Kizis has been at the forefront of complex, mass tort and class action litigation for more than 30 years, representing victims of occupational and environmental illness and defective products in trial and appellate courts in New Jersey and nationally. She has a long history of success in litigating claims of personal injury, wrongful death, property damage and economic loss due to hazardous substances including asbestos, silica, lead, and toxic chemicals, as well as unsafe pharmaceutical products and medical devices, and defective consumer products. As the granddaughter of a coal miner and the daughter of a Johns Manville employee, the fight for the rights of sick and injured workers and their families is personal for her. She has been a leader and an advocate for the New Jersey plaintiffs asbestos bar and has consistently landed on the Best Lawyers in America list and Thomson Reuters’ Super Lawyers list for Class Action and Mass Torts.
All health care M&A activity in New Jersey goes through Kobler, as does the development of hospitals and other health care facilities. A partner at Newark’s McCarter & English, he has been involved in the state’s largest and most complex health care transactions,representing lenders and acute, subacute and specialized lay and faith-based providers.
Executive vice president and general counsel at PSE&G, Linde joined the law department of the company as an attorney in 1990 handling a variety of natural gas and electric regulatory and transactional matters. After holding several other legal positions at PSE&G she became general solicitor in 2000. In that position she was responsible for regulatory affairs including electric, gas, and nuclear matters. She has significant experience working on regulatory matters before various state and federal agencies on industry issues relating to electric transmission and distribution and energy markets. She serves on the boards of the PSEG Foundation, the Community Foundation of New Jersey and Mater Dei Prep High School in Middletown. Linde is also a member of the General Counsel Steering Committee of the National Association of Corporate Directors and the American Arbitration Association. She is a former president of the Northeast Chapter of the Energy Bar Association and has served as chair of the Energy Bar Association Electricity Regulation and Compliance Committee.
The pharmaceutical industry is a huge segment of the New Jersey economy and Lizza helps those drugmakers protect one of their most valuable resources: intellectual property. A partner at Saul Ewing in Newark, Lizza is handling cases for about 20 major pharmaceutical companies, according to the firm. Examples of his work include representing Celgene Corp. in defending its Revlimid drug, a treatment for multiple myeloma and blood disorders, which produces annual sales of about $6 billion. Lizza also represented Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy subsidiary in a patent suit involving Stryker over medical devices with sales of about $200 million. Among many activities, he serves on the U.S. District Court’s New Jersey Local Patent Rules Committee and has served as a mediator in the Southern District of New York since 1992.
Julia López is a senior litigation associate at Reed Smith in the firm’s Life Sciences Health Industry Group, handling product liability and commercial litigation for pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers. Her experience includes working on single plaintiff matters, coordinated cases, and multidistrict litigation in both federal and state courts and handling all aspects of general litigation. She has also counseled clients in breach of contract matters, business torts, other complex business disputes, and in government pharmaceutical pricing investigations. Committed to the firm’s diversity initiatives, Lopez is an associate liaison on the firm’s Diversity Committee and previously served as the associate liaison for UNIDOS, Reed Smith’s Hispanic/Latino Affinity Group. She has been an active member of the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey since 2003 and an active board member since 2008, serving in various leadership positions. Lopez is also a member of the Hispanic National Bar Association and for the past three years, has served as a Deputy Regional President for HNBA Region III, winning recognition as a HNBA Top Lawyer Under 40 in 2017.
Francis X. Manning
Manning runs the Cherry Hill outpost of 200-lawyer Stradley Ronon, which is based across the Delaware River in Philadelphia. A litigator who handles commercial and regulatory cases for insurers, financial services providers and manufacturers. He has more than 30 trials under his belt and has appeared before the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as well as appellate courts in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York. His range of experience and backing from a large firm place Manning among the top business lawyers in South Jersey.
Ronald Masciantonio is senior vice president and general counsel at discount chain Five Below, a role he took on after 13 years with Destination Maternity in Moorestown. He’s spent less than a year so far at Five Below, but in that time, the brand has grown even in the face of tariffs on Chinese imports. In the first quarter of 2019, the retailer expanded to Iowa, Nebraska and Arizona, bringing its state count to 36. Additionally, Masciantonio serves as vice chairman of the Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey, the region’s largest business organization.
David A. Mebane
Mebane, executive vice president and general counsel for RWJBarnabas Health, is responsible for the legal affairs and insurance of New Jersey’s largest integrated health system He is also president of its captive insurance company. Mebane joined the system 28 years ago. He was integral in the development and growth of Barnabas Health’s legal department and the merger of Robert Wood Johnson Health System and Barnabas Health, which resulted in the establishment of RWJBarnabas Health in 2016. Mebane provides advice and counsel to RWJBH’s transactions, litigation and contracts, risk financing, compliance and day-to-day operations and advocacy.
Moles has helped steer Resorts Casino through rough waters over the years, including the Great Recession of a decade ago and the subsequent closures of many long-time gambling establishments in Atlantic City. Now, the casino has entered much calmer waters. It introduced sports-betting for both mobile and online platforms, the latter having become a cash cow for the state’s gaming industry. Resorts, despite its relatively small size compared to the Borgata or Harrah’s, was one of the few casinos in the past year that actually made a profit, according to the most recent data from state gaming regulators.
Murphy is executive vice president and chief legal officer, operations for Hackensack Meridian Health. She has played an integral role in some of the health network’s most significant endeavors. Murphy began at Hackensack University Medical Center as associate counsel and director of risk management in 1992 and previously served as executive vice president/chief legal officer at Hackensack University Medical Center and Hackensack University Health Network. She boasts dual expertise as an attorney and as a nurse, navigating high-level strategic operations with a particular understanding of patient care. Murphy was recently named General Counsel of the Year for Health care by NJBIZ and was honored by NJBIZ among its Best 50 Women in Business. She has also been awarded New Jersey Law Journal In-House Counsel of the Year.
More from the 2019 NJBIZ Power 100:
- No. 1: Philip Norcross
- No. 2: Gurbir Grewal
- No. 3: Nancy Erika Smith
- No. 4: Jerry Zaro
- No. 5: Deborah Hays
- No. 6: John Fanburg
- No. 7: Matt Platkin
- No. 8: Kim Guadagno
- No. 9: Evelyn Padin
- No. 10: Stuart Rabner
- Law Power 50: N-Z
- Presenting the 2019 NJBIZ Law Power 50
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article misidentified Dara Aquila Govan as a former Assistant U.S. Attorney for New Jersey; she currently holds that title and her bio reflects updated information.