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Shifting ranks

Florio Perrucci Steinhardt & Cappelli and Mandelbaum Salsburg show the biggest gains in the latest law firm ranking

The 2019 NJBIZ Top 50 Law Firms List shows some big shifts in the bottom 40, including a double-digit downward move for Budd Larner and gains of eight and seven spots for Florio Perrucci Steinhardt & Cappelli LLC and Mandelbaum Salsburg, respectively.

Changes in lawyer count for the top two spots created a gap between the previously tied firms as McCarter & English lost two lawyers and McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter LLP lost 11.

Florio Perrucci climbed from slot 48 to 40 this year, marking the list’s biggest upward movement.

Cappelli

Florio’s upward movement can be attributed to growth in the firm’s corporate and commercial real estate departments, according to Managing Partner Lou Cappelli.

Mandelbaum Salsburg made the second biggest jump on the list, climbing seven spots from 27 to 20. The firm “has been growing exponentially for a few years now,” according to CEO William Barrett, who attributed the firm’s New Jersey growth to successful recruiting and an environment that keeps both lawyers and staff happy.

“Culture is a word that gets thrown around loosely by a lot of firms,” Barrett said. “But the reality is, most firms talk a good game. They try to lay claim to good culture for recruiting purposes, but I think they fall short. We live it, and we deliver what we say.”

In Barrett’s 20 years at the firm, he recalls “maybe three” partners that left Mandelbaum for other firms; and at 7 o’clock at night, he said, it’s hard to find people walking the halls at the office.

Mandelbaum is on track to hire six more attorneys by the end of Q1 2019, and Barrett said other interviews and offers are pending.

“There’s a reasonable chance we might grow by as many this year as last year,” he said. “It’s nice to get in the top 20 because it puts you in a whole new grouping. Maybe next year we’ll be in the top 15.”

Neighboring moves

Goldberg Segalla climbed six spots to number 33, marking the third biggest jump. Seven newcomers joined the firm’s insurance coverage, product liability, trucking and transportation, employment, health law, and general defense groups.

Cohen

“Our growth is almost entirely in response to the demand placed on us by the ever-growing client community,” said Richard Cohen, firmwide managing partner and co-founder. The firm isn’t trying to build up to a certain size, he said, but grows with demand.

“As they look for us to do more work, we continue to add more lawyers to make sure we’re always rising to the level of expectation that our clients have for us,” Cohen said. “It’s the only reason we’re growing.”

Some, like Coughlin Duffy LLP and Szaferman, Lakind, Blumstein & Blader PC, stayed the same size but shifted on the list because of changes at other firms. With 37 lawyers each, both firms climbed from number 50 to number 46. Einhorn Harris and Greenberg Traurig LLP both jumped three spots without changing their own numbers, too, now at slots 50 and 23 respectively.

Other firms stayed in the same range despite fairly substantial changes. Bressler, Amery & Ross PC went from 78 attorneys to 70, but fell just two spots. MDMC dropped 11 lawyers from 181 to 170 but slipped just one spot.

Others, though, dropped quite a few spots from a loss of manpower. Budd Larner PC had the biggest decline of the year, falling 13 spots from 23 to 36 with the loss of 20 attorneys. Many of those went with former Budd Larner manager partner and executive committee member Joseph Schiavone, who joined Saiber LLC’s insurance and reinsurance group in Sept. 2018.

Schiavone

“I’d been at Budd Larner for more than 30 years and too many callouses developed over the years that it was time for me to go,” Schiavone said. “It’s not something that somebody does lightly, but I was ready for a change and I knew the people at Saiber very well.”

“The first thing I did was speak with my three partners about moving with me. They were happy to do it. It was really a pretty smooth transition all the way around,” Schiavone said. “And I must say, the people at Budd Larner were really decent about the whole thing.”

Saiber got a nice boost from the new insurance crew, jumping from 34 to 30 on the list.

Gabrielle Saulsbery
Albany, N.Y. native Gabrielle Saulsbery is a staff writer for NJBIZ and the newest thing in New Jersey. You can contact her at gsaulsbery@njbiz.com.

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