Seven lawyers from Budd Larner, including a longtime member of the firm’s leadership, have departed for fellow New Jersey firm Saiber, nearly doubling the size of the latter firm’s insurance and reinsurance practice.
Joseph Schiavone, a managing partner for eight years and executive committee member for 25 years at Budd Larner, joined Saiber in Florham Park as of Sept. 10, bringing along partners Jeffrey Leonard, Vincent Proto and Michael Balch, and associates Lori Zeglarski, David Satine, and Robert Vacchiano.
The practice group members “all knew something about Saiber,” and knew people at the firm, Schiavone said in an interview.
The existing Saiber practice has been heavier on the coverage side, while “our major contribution was on the reinsurance side,” he said.
The additions grow Saiber’s attorney head count to 65.
Budd Larner, meanwhile, sits at 54 lawyers following the departures, according to the firm’s website, including two attorneys listed as members of the insurance practice.
According to Schiavone, the move results from his longtime friendship with Saiber attorneys, and was something that had been discussed going back years. But talks became serious in recent months, after Schiavone found himself at odds with fellow Budd Larner leaders over the firm’s direction going forward, he said.
Schiavone and other members of the five-person executive committee at Budd Larner “had some differences in how to manage the firm,” he said.
“I think that I was more interested in growing the firm and getting other people involved” in management—people from within the firm and elsewhere, he said.
“Most law firms that I know of are trying to bring in more people; it’s just a very tough thing to do,” Schiavone, asked about Budd Larner’s recruiting efforts, said.
At Saiber, Schiavone, 65, has joined people he knows well: managing partner William Maderer and, especially, executive committee member and insurance lawyer David D’Aloia.
D’Aloia and he have handled cases together over the years and would “keep track of each other” over the years, Schiavone said.
“We had a lot of longevity in our group,” Schiavone said, noting that Proto was once his summer associate and has practiced with him for 28 years, while Leonard has been with him 22 years. He discussed the move with the partners before agreeing, he said.
Schiavone did not engage with any firms other than Saiber leading up to his departure from Budd Larner, and didn’t encounter any client conflicts in vetting the move, he said.
As is common in cases of lateral moves, Schiavone and the partners joining Saiber in the move will not have equity interest at the outset, he said.
Maderer said in a statement: “We are thrilled to add an outstanding group of attorneys to our practice. The team brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the firm that will benefit our clients and complement our already strong insurance and reinsurance team.”
Andrew Miller, a member of Budd Larner’s executive committee, said of the moves, “we worked with Joe for many years and have a long-standing relationship with him,” and wished the group well, but he declined to comment on what’s next for Budd Larner.
Budd Larner’s lawyer population appears to have contracted in recent years. As recently as 2016, head count at the firm was higher than 70, compared with 54 now, as of the insurance group departure.
In the spring of 2016, the firm brought on four laterals to launch a labor and employment group: Dominick Bratti and Annemarie Terzano Greenan from Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer in Woodbridge, and Joshua Weiner and Paul Weiner from Hill Wallack in Princeton. The additions pushed Budd Larner’s head count of 74 at the time.
Bratti and Greenan left Budd Larner earlier this year to form Bratti Greenan in Shrewsbury.
Budd Larner had 85 lawyers in late 2010, following the departures of a 10-lawyer property insurance group to form Finazzo, Cossolini, O’Leary, Meola & Hager in Morristown, the Law Journal previously reported.
Saiber’s attorney head count has been in the range of 60 in recent years, according to Law Journal data, and sat at 64 following the firm’s 2014 acquisition of seven-lawyer transactional boutique Marcus, Brody, Ford & Kessler. It was Saiber’s biggest move since taking on a five-lawyer insurance-litigation group from Schwartz, Simon, Edelstein & Celso in June 2009. The firm was formed in Newark in 1950, later moving its headquarters to Florham Park, and rostered seven attorneys when Maderer joined the firm in 1980.
Budd Larner was formed in 1934, also in Newark.