James DiGiulio
James DiGiulio ()

Gov. Chris Christie has turned to another insider to serve as his top legal adviser through the last six months of his final term in office.

Christie announced Thursday that he has named James DiGiulio, his former senior counsel, as chief counsel.

For DiGiulio, it is a return to the administration after a brief stint in private practice. Until recently he was with the Cedar Grove firm O’Toole Scrivo, headed by Republican state Sen. Kevin O’Toole and former Christie chief counsel Thomas Scrivo.

DiGiulio replaces Gregory Acquaviva, whom Christie nominated to the Superior Court bench on May 25. (The Senate confirmed the nomination on June 29.)

“[DiGiulio] was exemplary as senior counsel, and I am fortunate to have him aboard again, this time leading my legal team while we continue to address the many challenging issues this state faces over the next several months,” Christie said in a statement.

Christie’s second and final term ends in January, when the winner of this November’s gubernatorial election takes office.

DiGiulio has been with O’Toole Scrivo since March. He focused his practice on commercial disputes, health care law and internal firm matters such as risk management, hiring, technology and marketing.

From 2015 to March 2017, he was Christie’s senior counsel. From 2007 to 2015, he was with Morristown’s McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter. Scrivo had headed McElroy Deutsch’s Newark office before becoming chief counsel in 2014.

DiGiulio is a graduate of Rutgers Law School-Camden and Loyola University in Baltimore. He also earned a master of laws degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

O’Toole Scrivo has close ties to the Christie administration. In March, Scrivo, then Christie’s chief counsel, left the administration to join the firm, which until then was known as O’Toole Fernandez Weiner Van Lieu.

Acquaviva replaced Scrivo and served until his confirmation to the bench.

Christie in February appointed O’Toole to serve as a commissioner on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. In January, O’Toole announced that he would not run for another term as senator from Essex County. He has been in the Senate since 2008 and previously served in the state Assembly.

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Contact the reporter at mbooth@alm.com.