Left to right: Mary Pat Gallagher, Ola Nunez, Steven Gerber and David Ganz.
Left to right: Mary Pat Gallagher, Ola Nunez, Steven Gerber and David Ganz. (Courtesy photos)

Lawyers from the former New Jersey office of defunct Milwaukee-based firm Gonzalez Saggio & Harlan have found a new home at a New York firm after a year of running their own shop.

The eight lawyers, who had been practicing as Gerber & Partners, joined Schoeman Updike & Kaufman, forming a 27-lawyer firm with offices in New York and Wayne, New Jersey. The new firm, officially formed April 1, is called Schoeman Updike Kaufman & Gerber.

The New Jersey group includes partners Steven Gerber, Mary Pat Gallagher, David H. Ganz and Ola A. Nunez. Their firm had focused on employment litigation, general litigation, commercial real estate and trusts and estates. It formed in March 2016, just after Gonzalez Saggio closed its doors.

Aside from the Gerber lawyers, two Gonzalez Saggio partners had already joined Schoeman Updike last year when their former firm closed.

Gonzalez Saggio once had 130 lawyers in 18 cities, and was one of the largest certified minority-owned firms in the U.S. Gerber said his firm had been looking into combination opportunities since breaking off from Gonzalez Saggio, but wanted to choose one carefully. The advancement of women lawyers from his firm, where two partners and two associates were women, was an important consideration in the combination, Gerber said.

Joining Schoeman Updike, which is a certified women-owned firm, is helpful to the Gerber lawyers in maintaining relationships with governmental clients, Kaufman said.

Having the minority-owned or women-owned designation is not a requirement to work with those clients, Gerber said, but “in their evaluations of who to choose, it is a factor for them, as it should be.”

“The governmental agencies are very loyal to outside counsel,” Kaufman said.

Working with minority-owned and women-owned firms has become a higher priority for corporate clients as well, she said. And getting certified as a woman-owned firm by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council can be an involved process, even after meeting the requirements, she said.

Both law firms have regularly represented Fortune 100 companies, large privately held businesses and nonprofits, in addition to government entities, Kaufman said. The two firms encountered no client conflicts as they prepared for the combination, she and Gerber said.

The Gerber lawyers brought a stronger employment bench to Schoeman Updike, Kaufman said, as well as a physical presence in New Jersey. Schoeman Updike had attorneys licensed in New Jersey, she said, but lacked an office there.

Gerber & Partners clients have included The Bank of New York Mellon, CEC Entertainment Inc. (Chuck E. Cheese), Citibank and CitiMortgage, Federal Express Corp., H&R Block, Macy’s and NYU Langone Medical Center. Schoeman Updike’s clients have included GlaxoSmithKline, Bank of America, CapitalOne Bank, 3M Co. and Columbia University.

Copyright New Jersey Law Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.