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Carlton Johnson, chief deputy solicitor of Philadelphia’s civil rights unit, will move on from the department after more than 20 years to join New Jersey-based Archer & Greiner. Johnson will make the move late next month and join the litigation department as a partner in the firm’s growing Philadelphia office, according to firm president Gary J. Lesneski. “Carl brings a whole lot of experience,” Lesneski said, adding that Johnson would be able to handle various practice areas such as government relations, corporate compliance and other complex litigation. On the same day The Legal called about Johnson, the firm also announced it was adding Allen C. Tucci as a partner in its corporate department. Johnson is joining two other former co-workers, Jeffrey M. Kolansky and Jeffrey M. Scott, who Archer & Greiner has recently added to its Philadelphia office. Kolansky worked as an assistant district attorney and senior supervising district attorney in Philadelphia before going into his own practice. Scott was Johnson’s second-in-command in the civil rights unit before joining Archer & Greiner last month, and was the first lawyer Johnson brought into the unit. “We’re bringing together kind of a synergistic team of people who have worked together for a long time,” Lesneski said. The group is a natural fit to represent municipalities in litigation issues, and will be handling some of those cases, Lesneski said, adding that will not be all they will do. Johnson will make the seventh addition to the Philadelphia office. “Given the size of the office, there is no need to constrain them,” Lesneski said. “Our goal is to make it a full-service office.” Kolansky is currently heading up the white collar group, and Lesneski said Johnson might handle some of that work as well. Johnson said he will practice any type of litigation work, including municipal defense and health care litigation. Although Johnson and Scott joined the firm with no book of business, Lesneski said it was their reputation and contacts that made them valuable to the firm. For Johnson, it just seemed like the right time to make the move. “After 20 years, isn’t it time?” he joked. Johnson said he had been with the city solicitor’s office since graduating from law school in 1985 and became the first leader, then known as the divisional deputy, of the civil rights unit. For the man who jokingly calls himself the “founding father of the civil rights unit,” Johnson is excited to become a variation of a founding father at Archer & Greiner’s fairly new Philadelphia office. “I think what is most attractive to me about joining Archer & Greiner is that in a lot of ways, I will be doing what I did with the city,” Johnson said. He said he is looking forward to using some of his managerial skills to help expand the office, something Lesneski said he is eager to do as well. It was a little bit of a bittersweet transition for Johnson, who said of his 20 years at the solicitor’s office, “I’m one of the few lawyers at law school reunions that say I have the best job in the world.” He even extended his stay with the city to finish up a few of the more sophisticated cases that he felt needed his attention, he said. Alan L. Yatvin of Philadelphia-based Popper & Yatvin has worked with Johnson for several years. Around 75 percent of his cases deal with police misconduct issues, and that means close to 75 percent of his time is up against Johnson and his unit. In fact, five minutes before Yatvin spoke with The Legal, he was on the phone with Johnson trying to settle a case before Johnson leaves the post. As adversarial relationships often go, Yatvin said the two didn’t always get along. “It’s like any other love-hate relationship,” Yatvin said, adding that some days they get along and other days he “wanted to go to his house and hunt down his pets.” Although their relationship had its ups and downs, Yatvin said Johnson was always professional and did a lot of good for the city’s police department and, in turn, its citizens. Yatvin said he hopes the program Johnson implemented, a pre-suit review of cases that attempts to resolve the case before it goes to court, will stay in place. “It was a sound risk-management technique,” Yatvin said. “It was a plan that saved the city money.” According to Yatvin, Johnson made sure that even once a case was resolved, it wasn’t forgotten. He educated the police department on what those cases meant and how to avoid the same scenarios in the future, Yatvin said. “He spent the last 12 to 13 years developing a professional unit, a cadre of attorneys who are schooled in this complex and sometimes arcane area of the law,” Yatvin said. “His legacy has really put him together a unit with a really high level of expertise.” Johnson said his last day at the civil rights unit will be Feb. 3, and then he will take some time off before starting at the firm in late February or early March. Tucci, who at one time had his own firm, Tucci & Semes, will also join the Philadelphia office of Archer & Greiner as a partner in its corporate department. He will focus his practice on mergers and acquisitions, securities transactions and securities law, taxation and multi-state tax planning, and intellectual property. He will work part time out of the firm’s Wilmington, Del., office as well. “Mr. Tucci has built upon the experience he developed over the years to create a specialized practice in advanced corporate transactions, taxation and banking,” the firm said in a statement. “His insight into corporate goals and responsive services to client needs is recognized by his many corporate clients, which include numerous large, multi-national corporations as well as emerging, growth-oriented businesses.”

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