Pennsylvania/New Jersey - Law Firms Gibbons Opens Philadelphia Office: Building On 80 Years Of Excellence

Friday, July 1, 2005 - 01:00

Editor: Please tell our readers about your background.

Marston: After completing my education at Maryville College and Harvard Law School, I served in the U.S. Navy as a gunnery legal officer. I then joined a large Philadelphia law firm and went on to serve as legislative counsel for U.S. Senator Richard Schweiker in DC. Following that, President Ford appointed me to be the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. After running as the Republican candidate for Mayor of Philadelphia, I returned to private practice as a corporate lawyer and started the Philadelphia office of Buchanan Ingersoll. In 1994, I joined the Philadelphia office of Reed Smith and am delighted to have recently joined Gibbons.

Susanin: I completed my education at Franklin & Marshall and Villanova School of Law. I then served in the Navy JAG Corp, first doing criminal defense work in Seattle and then arguing cases before the Military Appeals Courts and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces in DC. I also handled cases before the U.S. Supreme Court involving convicted service members.

I returned to Philadelphia to work with Dave at Buchanan Ingersoll. Later I investigated and prosecuted cases in the U.S. Attorney's Office ranging from racketeering and fraud to narcotics and firearm offenses. I then moved to DC where I continued my trial and grand jury work, including service in the Whitewater Office of the Independent Counsel. After leaving government service four years ago, I was pleased, like Dave, to have joined Gibbons.

Editor: How has your practice evolved over the years?

Marston: When I started in private practice, my initial area of concentration was mergers and acquisitions. As U.S. Attorney, I was involved in major litigation and federal criminal law. For a number of years, I represented an investment group that acquired companies out of Chapter 11 reorganization proceedings, such as Piper Aircraft Corporation, Burlington Motor Carrier, Business Express Airlines and The McCall Pattern Company.

My focus now is on a general commercial practice. One of my current cases, in which I am working with Gibbons corporate lawyers in Newark, involves a long-time client acquiring a major coal property in the mid-Atlantic region. The case shows how seamlessly work is integrated in this firm. I am excited to be building on my prior success in working with lawyers from multiple offices on complex matters.

Susanin: My focus has always been on investigative and trial work whether in military, federal law enforcement or private practice. My practice now consists of commercial litigation at both the federal and state level, which includes employment, intellectual property, contract, fraud and other cases. My white collar defense work has included representation of witnesses in the WorldCom trial and K-Mart accounting fraud investigations. In the wake of Sarbanes-Oxley, I've been involved in a growing number of internal investigations of employee misconduct where I've investigated the allegations and reported the findings to the corporation's audit committee.

Editor: David, you have written for a variety of publications. Please tell us about a few.

Marston: I wrote a book about the FBI with Neil Welch called Inside Hoover's FBI published by Doubleday. I also wrote a book about the legal profession called Malice Aforethought published by Wm. Morrow. I've written many articles, including one about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for Fortune magazine, but my favorite remains the first article I ever published, in Sports Afield, explaining how to catch bass using crawfish as bait.

Editor: Tim, you frequently provide commentary on the Fox News Channel, MSNBC and a wide range of other televised and print media. What are a few highlights?

Susanin: Last week, I did a segment on the Amnesty International report calling for the closure of the naval facility at Guantanamo Bay. It's just one of a number of segments I've done on federal criminal cases as well as military courts martial that relate to our post 9/11 world. Last night, I did a segment related to the Shield Law, which deals with the CIA leak reported in the media a few months ago and the Mark Felt Watergate informant issue.

Editor: How did you come to Gibbons?

Susanin: My wife Barbara's friends include a number of her fellow graduates of Fordham Law School who worked at Gibbons. At the time I left the government, Barbara and I decided to leave DC and move closer to home. Many things stood out about the Gibbons lawyers, primarily that they are of the highest professional caliber and are tremendous people on a personal level as well. Long after my initial interview, I'm happy to report that the firm is exactly what it was represented to be.

Marston: I recruited Tim at Buchanan Ingersoll, and we remained close over the years. A few months ago, Tim mentioned that Gibbons asked him to take a leadership role in opening a Philadelphia office. Having known the firm through Judge Gibbons' service on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, I told Tim that I would be interested in working with him again. Judge Gibbons has had an extraordinary career, and I am very pleased to be part of a firm with lawyers of that caliber.

Editor: What was the impetus for opening the Philadelphia office?

Susanin: Throughout its 80-year history, the firm has been a leader in NJ. In 1997, we crossed a significant threshold when we opened an office in Manhattan, which now has close to 50 lawyers. Since that time, we've also opened an office in Trenton. Our business plan has been to grow in ways that are true to who we are as a firm and what we can offer our clients. Opening a Philadelphia office is a perfect match with our dedication to serving mid-market clients.

Marston: Our Chairman, David Sheehan, has been the key strategist in shaping Gibbons' growth. Our current Managing Director, 38-year-old Patrick Dunican, led the successful expansion into New York. Gibbons provides an environment in which young, dynamic talent can thrive and play a major leadership role, while still valuing the tremendous experience and accomplishments of lawyers like Judge Gibbons. Very few firms have that balance.

Susanin: We also have former New Jersey Superior Court judges alongside our young leaders like David De Lorenzi, who at 40 has headed our intellectual property department for several years. Our firm focuses on what our lawyers bring to the table and the quality of their work and not the number of years either behind or ahead of them.

Editor: How do you keep your prices reasonable while providing services competitive with the best Manhattan firms?

Marston: Instead of a straight hourly rate, I sometimes suggest that we agree with a client as to a fixed price for our legal services. I mentor younger lawyers by telling them that we need to look at our product as one for customers who have a choice about how to spend their money. Large firms too often bill for hours multiplied by the lawyers' billing rates, irrespective of true value.

Editor: Please give some examples of the firm's tradition of public service.

Susanin: Named after Judge Gibbons, the Gibbons Fellowship funds three lawyers who work at the firm to represent the disenfranchised in our society on a number of issues both in federal and state court. Matters involve questions of criminal procedure, immigration law, prisoner rights, equal education opportunity and the like.

Last month, the Gibbons Women's Initiative, which is run by the chair of our employment law department, Christine Amalfe, and a member of our financial restructuring and creditors' rights department, Geraldine Ponto, hosted a program called "Women's Health Information That Can Save Your Life," in conjunction with National Women's Health Week. As our office grows, we will host similar programs in Philadelphia.

Marston: The firm in Newark has been a leading support of the Fresh Air Fund, which helps disadvantaged children to enjoy a summer camp experience. We look to support this type of program in Philadelphia as well.

Susanin: One of our named partners, Michael Griffinger, led the firm's involvement with the Fresh Air Fund as well as with the NJ Performing Arts Center. I anticipate that we will follow suit in Philadelphia.

Editor: How do you see the Philadelphia office growing?

Susanin: We expect to grow to about 40 lawyers. We do not want growth just for growth's sake. We want lawyers who will maintain our tradition of excellence and fit our culture.

Marston: We are very serious about adding major value through our legal services. And, while getting new clients is great, one of my key goals is never to lose an existing client.

Also, as the legal practice has become more like a business, a lot of the fun has gone out of the practice in many firms. I'm delighted to be in a firm where the lawyers continue to have fun doing excellent work in a great profession.

1 Cargo Security: Partnership Program Grants Importers Reduced Scrutiny with Limited Assurance of Improved Security, GAO-05-404, March 11, 2005 (hereinafter "GAO Report").

2 See GAO Report at p. 5.

3 R emarks by Commissioner Robert C. Bonner, Supply Chain Security in New Business Environment, available at http://www.customs.gov/xp/cgov/newsroom/commissioner/speeches_statements/apr21_2005_miami.xml.

Please email the interviewees at dmarston@gibbonslaw.com and tsusanin@gibbonslaw.com with questions about this interview.