As executive vice president and general counsel at Prudential Financial, Ann Kappler is the head of Law, Compliance, Business Ethics and External Affairs. She was appointed in September 2020, after serving as the company’s deputy general counsel and head of External Affairs for six years. In that role, Kappler oversaw Prudential’s corporate legal functions, including litigation, regulatory law, and corporate investigations. She also led the company’s public policy advocacy, managing all federal, state and international government affairs activities. Before joining Prudential in 2009, Kappler was a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr in Washington, D.C., where she focused on emerging issues at the intersection of regulation, legislation and litigation. She has held a variety of other roles with expanded responsibilities, including as a litigation partner at Jenner & Block and as general counsel at Fannie Mae. Kappler serves on the boards of directors of the Pro Bono Partnership and the National Health Law Program, where she is chair, and serves as program co-chair for the Georgetown Law Corporate Counsel Institute. She has served on the boards of the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs; Appleseed Foundation and Global Rights; and was a longtime member of the board of trustees of the Lowell School in Washington, D.C., where she served as chair. Kappler is a member of the Board of Visitors of the Dartmouth College Rockefeller Center for Public Policy. She has earned several awards such as 2018 Executive Women of New Jersey Policymakers honoree.
A 30-year veteran of the real estate business, Klausner is a partner at Fox Rothschild and co-chair of the firm’s Real Estate Department. Over the course of his career, Klausner has a handled wide range of office, industrial and retail transactions, including the leasing of more than 100 million square feet of space, the purchase and sale of more than $40 billion worth of property and financing for more than $25 billion worth of property. He has also served as lead attorney in connection with nine NAIOP “Deal of the Year” Awards. In addition, he is a perennial on NJBIZ lists, including the 2023, 2016 and 2017 Real Estate Power lists. And earlier this year, he was honored by the NJBIZ Leaders in Law program.
Kobler has been a key player in healthcare M&A and financing in New Jersey for the past four decades. A partner at McCarter & English in Newark, Kobler’s work includes some of the state’s largest and most complex healthcare transactions, representing lenders and acute, subacute and specialized lay and faith-based providers. “He’s the Obi Wan Kenobi of health care deals,” one person in the know said this spring. “He’s the one everyone goes to when the question isn’t easily solved.” Kobler was honored in August with an NJBIZ ICON award, and named to the Health Care Power 50 in March 2020. His current and prior volunteer work ranges from chair of NJ PBS and board member of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, to a trustee with the Newark Alliance, commissioner with the New Jersey Motion Picture and Television Development Commission and executive committee member for the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. And he’s the treasurer for Cory Booker’s U.S. Senate campaign.
Now 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 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.
With some of the world’s largest drugmakers based in New Jersey, it’s no secret that the pharmaceutical industry plays a pivotal role in the New Jersey economy. And Lizza helps these drugmakers protect some of their most valuable assets: intellectual property. As a partner at Saul Ewing in Newark, Lizza has handled cases for dozens of pharmaceutical companies. In the past, he represented Celgene Corp. in defending its Abraxane drug, used in various cancer treatments, and which brings in annual sales of $1 billion. And he represented Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy subsidiary in a patent suit involving Stryker over medical devices with sales of about $200 million. Lizza’s legal activities include decades spent as a mediator in the Southern District of New York, on top of his time as member of the U.S. District Court’s New Jersey Local Patent Rules Committee.
As a partner in Reed Smith’s life sciences health industry group focusing on products liability litigation and commercial litigation, López defends several of the region’s pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers in both federal and state courts. Contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy products, vaginal mesh, and more, the products at issue in her cases run the gamut. Reed’s influence expands beyond New Jersey as the firm’s nationwide partner chair for the Hispanic/Latinx business inclusion group known as UNIDOS. She was previously president of Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey. In addition, she serves as the Hispanic National Bar Association National Finance Director, where she is helping to implement initiatives for Latinx attorneys and students, the community, and its strategic partners. She leads a team of lawyers and professionals nationwide tasked with communicating with the bar’s supporters and sponsors to ensure the sustainability of the HNBA.
Manning was named as the first woman managing principal at Florham Park’s Bressler Amery & Ross in April 2021. She has filled prominent roles within the firm for years, including three years on the executive committee and seven years on the compensation committee. Manning has also served as chair of the firm’s women’s initiative committee and continues as co-chair of the multi-state business and commercial litigation group and leader of the appellate group. “She possesses a rare combination of attributes including the ability to thoughtfully synthesize ideas and facts utilize sound judgment, understand the needs of all generations in the workplace, and act with a balance of empathy and resolve,” firm founder Brian Amery said at the time she was selected for the top job. “Diana has been an integral part of our ongoing strategy to grow the firm while focusing on the business of law,” he said.
Masciantonio is senior vice president and general counsel at retail chain Five Below, a role he took on in 2018 after 13 years with Destination Maternity in Moorestown. Since he joined the discount retailer, its expanded its reach with several store openings in new markets. As of this year, Masciantonio chairs South Jersey’s largest business organization, the Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey, which is the voice of the region’s business community—made up 80% of small businesses–in Trenton.
David A. Mebane
Mebane is executive vice president and general counsel for RWJBarnabas Health, where he handles legal affairs and insurance for one of New Jersey’s largest health systems. His 28 years of healthcare law work has earned him various honors over the years, including as NJBIZ Healthcare Attorney of the Year in 2017. Mebane came on board via the legal department at Barnabas Health, playing an integral role in the merger with the Robert Wood Johnson Health system in 2016. Now, he’s the top attorney for the health care system which operates one of New Jersey’s three Level One Trauma Centers, and the only one in Central Jersey. Mebane provides advice and counsel RWJBH’s transactions, litigation and contracts, risk financing, compliance and day-to-day operations and advocacy.
Mohan is counsel in Riker Danzig’s Insurance Group, where her practice includes the representation of insurance companies as well as the defense of their clients in a variety of disputes, with a particular focus on complex litigation, especially products liability, toxic tort and construction defect claims. According to the firm, she regularly represents domestic and foreign Fortune 100 insurers and others in complex cases nationwide involving primary, umbrella and excess policies. And she has represented insurers in matters involving all lines of coverage including first-party property, commercial and general liability, automobile, multi-peril and life insurance policies. Earlier this year, Mohan was honored in the NJBIZ Leaders in Law program.
Coming out of more than a year of COVID-19 restrictions on the state’s casinos, New Jersey’s gambling industry is booming. And Ocean Casino Resort, one of the state’s youngest casinos, is poised to cash in from the rebound. Ocean — along with Hard Rock Atlantic City — opened in June 2018, after struggling for years to get the financing to finally open its doors to the public. Both have led the pack over the past 17 months of COVID-19 restrictions, including when the nine casinos had to operate remote-only, and then starting in the summer 2020 when they shifted to reduced capacity for the next year. Muskett, the senior vice president and general counsel at Ocean, where he started in March 2020 when the pandemic first hit, had his work cut out for him. New Jersey’s casinos scrambled to comply with the new COVID-19 restrictions, and went ahead with mass layoffs as the gambling industry cratered. And a new fight has broken out over a potential smoking ban on casino floors, one of the few indoor public places where smoking is still allowed. Muskett has deep roots in the gambling industry, including eight years as general counsel at Tropicana and another 18 months as general counsel at Eldorado Resorts. Before that, Muskett spent nearly nine years as the assistant prosecutor for Atlantic County.
Judging by the news headlines and government watchdogs, law firm Parker McCay and lobbying firm Optimus Partners might represent the epitome of the politically connected firms. Norcross, an executive at both, is the nexus of those connections. That became evident in 2019, when activists and a task force put together by the Murphy administration outlined Optimus’ and Parker McCay’s alleged influence over the creation of the 2013 tax break program, and in helping businesses win lucrative incentive awards. Philip is the brother of both George Norcross, the South Jersey political kingmaker, and Donald Norcross, a U.S. congressman representing the First Congressional District. With the creation of a new tax break regime, Trenton insiders have been speculating about just what kind of role Philip could play in helping businesses win incentives. And firms like Parker McCay remain key power players in the South Jersey business environment.
With a staff of nearly 30, including corporate and litigation attorneys, clinical risk and patient relations managers and insurance professionals, O’Halloran oversees all legal matters for Atlantic Health System. The network manages six hospitals, maintains 600 physician relationships, and brings in annual revenues of over $2.6 billion. She joined in 2010 as assistant general counsel, becoming general counsel in April 2016. During her tenure at Atlantic Health, O’Halloran has overseen corporate and regulatory affairs, managing legal services, risk and claims management for the network. That’s earned a spot in prior year’s editions of the NJBIZ Law Power 50, and the 2021 Leaders in Law this April.
It’s tough to be influential as a Republican in New Jersey these days, given the state of the party here. But Palatucci, now a partner at McCarter & English after nearly eight years as partner at Gibbons, is still a member of the Republican National Committee and so retains some measure of clout within the GOP at least. During the Christie administration, he was recognized as a power player in the national party and served as general counsel to the Trump transition committee. With the 2024 presidential election looming as another critical campaign, and with midterm elections lying just on the horizon giving Republicans a chance to pick up some seats in Congress, Palatucci’s stature in the party and his contacts nationwide should once again put him in the forefront of electoral politics. Palatucci has served on the Board of Visitors of the Seton Hall University School of Law and on the National Advisory Board for the Rutgers University Heldrich Center.
Archer partner Pietrafesa advises clients on choice of entity and formation of corporations, LLCs and partnerships, including the preparation and negotiation of governing documents and agreements such as shareholder, buy-sell, partnership, and LLC operating agreements. He has significant experience with, and is considered an authority on, LLC laws. He handles equity and debt financing, including private placements of securities, and investments by family, friends, angel investors, and private equity firms. Pietrafesa also handles mergers and acquisitions, including asset purchases and stock purchases, joint ventures and other strategic alliances, and other corporate reorganizations, and has a working knowledge of the tax consequences associated with such transactions. A teacher at heart, he’s frequently lecturing on LLCs, contracts, and legal ethics, and often published on such topics in New Jersey Law Journal, NJBIZ, and New Jersey Lawyer Magazine, the latter of which he served on the editorial board for 15 years. He was a contributing author, on the subject of drafting complaints, to New Jersey Federal Civil Procedure, published by New Jersey Law Journal Books, and was a contributing author on the subject of trial evidence for the annual supplements to prior editions of the same text. Pietrafesa has been a perennial honoree on best-of lawyer lists since nabbing a spot on the New Jersey Law Journal’s 40 under 40 in 2002. Last year, he selected by The Best Lawyers in America as Hackensack Corporate Law “Lawyer of the Year.”
Platkin is a partner at Lowenstein Sandler and before that the chief counsel for Gov. Phil Murphy. Last year, Platkin earned the top spot in the NJBIZ Law Power 50 list and for good reason: he was heavily involved in crafting the executive orders outlining mask mandates and COVID-19 restrictions on businesses. That made him a key figure present at Murphy’s COVID-19 briefings, when the state was in the grip of the pandemic. And practically anything coming out of the governor’s office went through Platkin at some point in the process — news releases, executive orders, negotiations and gubernatorial nominations. This year, he made the NJBIZ Next Generation of Leaders, a list highlighting the state’s most influential future leaders. Lowenstein is staffed by many prominent executives and former public officials, including former state Attorney General Chris Porrino and former State Comptroller Matthew Boxer, who Murphy tapped over the winter to investigate the Edna Mahan women’s prison abuse allegations. Platkin handles business litigation and white-collar criminal defense, and at a firm that has the ears of top movers and shakers in New Jersey politics and business, he continues to hold clout in decision-making throughout the state.
Although he is the top official in New Jersey’s judicial branch, Rabner has maintained a relatively low-key and quiet state presence compared to his counterparts in the state Legislature and executive branch. Granted, that does not mean that Rabner has not been making noise. The judicial branch, after all, is gauging how to handle the so-called “tsunami of evictions” after evictions were banned for most of the pandemic as tens of thousands of renters pummeled by the pandemic recession fell behind on their rent payments. The courts are scheduled to begin sifting through the mountain of cases on Sept. 1, following guidance earlier in July from the state’s high court. On July 1, the justices tossed out nearly 88,000 convictions and pending offenses related to marijuana; a first tranche of 360,000 marijuana cases that could be purged from courts up and down the state.
Reilly’s legal career in New Jersey stretches back decades to when she first tried cases in North Jersey in the 1980s. In 2007, she formed a partnership with Lawrence P. Brady, establishing the law firm Brady, Brady & Reilly, where she is currently managing partner and handles personal injury cases. In that capacity, she settled a $6 million construction accident case and a $1.2 million automobile accident case. In her role as president of the New Jersey Association for Justice, Reilly heads a 2,600-member group consisting of paralegals, law students and graduates, clerks, and members of public and private practices in advocating for better workplace, product and environmental safety laws.
As CSG’s Managing Member, Schwartz, in tandem with the firm’s executive committee, spearheaded a recording-breaking year which saw revenue surpass the $80 million milestone for the first time. Schwartz has led the firm since 2016 and been a member since 1983. In the past year, in spite of the pandemic, he oversaw the expansion of CSG’s New York City office and the buildout of its Short Hills location; and while other firms consolidated, Schwartz drove expansion, hiring 25 new attorneys and 25 other professionals. These hires – which have included a former magistrate judge, a pair of seasoned bankruptcy attorneys, an accomplished transactional real estate lawyer with a national practice and a well-respected IP litigator and strategist in the Southern District of New York– have ensured that the firm remains proactive in anticipation of client needs.
Jennifer Phillips Smith
As a director at Gibbons PC, Smith counsels clients on real estate matters ranging from redevelopment projects spanning hundreds of acres to issues affecting small business owners. She represents clients seeking site plan approval and variances from numerous planning and zoning boards in connection with restaurant, residential, retail, office, financial, medical, educational and mixed use projects. She also represents clients in redevelopment areas and has experience drafting and reviewing redevelopment documents, including agreements and plans. Smith has extensive experience in land use litigation, including both the defense of and objection to municipal land use approvals. In 2019, Smith presented the Sayreville planning Board in the application from Sayreville Seaports Associates Urban Renewal LP (SSA), the designated developer for a portion of Riverton, a $2.5 billion mixed-use project being developed in the borough alongside the Raritan River and on a site formerly owned by National Lead.
Sorin wears several hats: he’s chair of McCarter & English’s busy venture capital and emerging growth companies practice, a member of the firm’s executive committee, and office managing partner of the East Brunswick office. In his VC sector work, he advises privately and publicly owned startup, early stage, emerging growth, and middle market technology, tech-enabled, and life science enterprises, as well as the investors, executives, and directors who support or lead them. Sorin has a track record of successful representation of growth companies, having been recognized time and time again for his legal and business acumen and his keen abilities to stay steps ahead of emerging trends in technology innovation and the broader venture capital space.
Tami Bogutz Steinberg
Steinberg chair of Flaster Greenberg’s Business & Corporate Department and is a member of the firm’s Board of Directors. For over 30 years, business owners and entrepreneurs across a wide range of industries have turned to her as a legal advisor. She is known as one of the leading business and corporate attorneys the South Jersey and Philadelphia region. She represents businesses at all stages, from formation through dissolution or sale. Her practice encompasses mergers and acquisitions, financings, joint ventures, partnership and shareholder transactions, contracting, dispute resolutions, corporate governance and private placements. Steinberg also serves as Chair of the firm’s Gaming Industry Group, representing casino developers and operators in the competitive process for new facilities and in running operating facilities. She also represents online sports and gaming entrepreneurs as they maneuver through the regulatory process, in addition to providing them with corporate counsel. Steinberg assists gaming clients with obtaining financing and licensing, negotiating management agreements, handling general corporate, contractual and regulatory matters and overseeing lobbying efforts, real estate, labor, employment and litigation issues.
Ullmann is executive vice president, general counsel of the New Brunswick-based global drugmaker Johnson & Johnson. In that role, he has worldwide responsibility for J&J’s legal, government affairs and policy, global security, aviation, health care compliance and privacy. He is and will be quite busy. J&J and several other drugmakers are reportedly in the midst of a $26 billion settlement with multiple states and municipalities. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court said it would not hear J&J’s appeal on $2 billion of damages it would have to pay following allegations that the company’s talcum powder caused cancer. Ullmann joined J&J in 1989 as a mergers and acquisitions attorney, working his way up in the company’s law department beginning in 1999 before assuming his current role in 2012.
Walsh has been the acting state comptroller since the start of 2020, leading an office meant to monitor state and local spending and ensure public funds are used properly. With the state having gotten over $6 billion from the Trump-era CARES Act, and $10.2 billion to state and local governments under the American Rescue Plan, Walsh will help ensure those funds are properly spent. The office in May announced the creation of an independent monitor tasked with promoting “best practices to prevent fraud, waste and abuse.” “The substantial amount of funding at stake – and the importance of the funding to New Jerseyans – means state agencies and authorities must be especially vigilant and have policies and procedures in place that protect the money,” Walsh said in May. “By leveraging [the Office of the State Comptroller’s] expertise in procurement, audit, and investigations, we stand ready to ensure that fraud, waste or abuse does not disrupt New Jersey’s recovery.” Going beyond COVID-19 relief, the OSC goes after government officials who misuse funds, or private businesses that continually milk the taxpayer dollar, naming and shaming them.
Wingens is on a roll. In his first year at the helm of Lowenstein Sandler, firm-wide revenue hit $175 million. After a decade under his leadership, the firm brought in $309 million in 2018. Law.com reported that only 11 of the top 200 U.S. firms grew more than 10% from 2017 to 2018, and Lowenstein was one of them, jumping 14%. For 2020, the firm said it posted revenue of $350 million. And since 2008, revenue has increased by 101%. In the last decade, the firm’s New York office has more than tripled, and offices have grown from its Roseland HQ to offices in Palo Alta, California; Washington, D.C.; and Utah. It’s not just quantity, though, it’s quality: big names like former state attorneys general Chris Porrino and Anne Milgram have joined in recent years, along with Gov. Phil Murphy’s former chief counsel, Matt Platkin, this year. One of Wingens’ first actions as managing partner in 2008 was to create the Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest, which has recently dedicated extra effort to the separation of families and children at the country’s southern border by representing legal service providers for children in ongoing class actions and by mobilizing 30-plus law firms to advocate for the legal rights of immigrant children.
Zangari is a member of Sills Cummis & Gross, chair of the firm’s Real Estate Department and serves on its Management and Executive Committees. Zangari’s practice is multifaceted. He chairs the firm’s Redevelopment Law Practice Group, leading a team of attorneys on brownfield, transit-oriented, central business district and waterfront redevelopment projects as well as adaptive reuse projects at obsolete or vacant corporate campuses and shopping centers. He also routinely handles complex business transactions with an emphasis on commercial leasing, acquisition and financing transactions for owners, asset managers and tenants of industrial, office and retail properties across the country. In addition, Zangari chairs the firm’s Public Policy and Governmental Affairs Practice Group, assisting developers, hospitals, banks, casinos and other regulated industry clients in the ways that government and business intersect on a broad range of legislative and regulatory matters. In a ranking of “politically influential law firms” by politickernj.com, Sills was ranked number one among AmLaw 200 law firms in New Jersey, and Zangari was described as someone who is “well-liked by insiders on both sides of the aisle.” Zangari currently serves on the executive committee and board of directors of the NJ State Chamber of Commerce. He is also a founding member of the Rutgers University Center for Real Estate, where he serves on the Center’s Executive Committee.
Editor’s note: This article was updated on July 27, 2021 at 10:30 a.m. EDT to more accurately describe Gianfranco Pietrafesa’s current practice areas and to update Lowenstein Sandler’s financial statistics in Gary Wingens’ profile.