The Law Journal‘s first Lifetime Achievement in Litigation Award will be given next month to an attorney who has spent a good deal of his time and energy on litigation alternatives.
Bruce Goldstein emulates the ancient adage that if you want peace, prepare for war. For him, they are two sides of the same coin. His 45 years of practice in New Jersey is a record of successful advocacy using all legal remedies available, both in court and through alternatives to court.
Throughout his career, Goldstein has been engaged in business litigation involving a diversity of industries and a spectrum of subject matters, in addition to white-collar criminal defense and other practice areas.
He has also been a lawyer’s lawyer, representing attorneys in legal malpractice cases and ethics proceedings.
He has frequently served as a mediator and as a special master.
Just as significant, he has dedicated large amounts of his time and resources to volunteer efforts that have helped improve the judiciary, serving on state and federal court committees addressing a panoply of issues and problems germane to dispute resolution.
And he has devoted himself to legal education as a lecturer and a writer, while still finding time for pro bono and public service work.
Goldstein, now of McCusker, Anselmi, Rosen & Carvelli in Florham Park, graduated from Cornell Law School in 1967, clerked for a year for Superior Court Judge Samuel Larner and then spent another year as a N.J. assistant deputy public defender.
In 1970, he joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey where he cut his teeth as a litigator, becoming chief of special prosecutions after only a year and rising to the post of executive assistant U.S. attorney.
On his watch, he oversaw the prosecution and conviction of 13 public officials in Jersey City and Hudson County; two former New Jersey secretaries of state; two former state treasurers; a former executive director of the New Jersey Highway Authority; and a former president of the Newark City Council.
Those prosecutions won him, in 1976, the Attorney General Distinguished Service Award, conferred annually on only one assistant U.S. attorney in the country in recognition of service to the Department of Justice.
He also won, in 1974, the Younger Federal Lawyers Award, conferred by Federal Bar Association in recognition of outstanding service to the U.S.
Goldstein entered private practice in 1977, accepting the invitation of David Satz, former U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey, to join the Newark firm that would become known as Saiber Schlesinger, Satz & Goldstein.
He practiced with the Saiber firm for more than 30 years and throughout much of that time was its co-managing partner and managing partner. Under his stewardship, the firm grew from six to 65 lawyers and developed a reputation as one of New Jersey’s premier business-litigation boutiques.
At Saiber, Goldstein was a go-to lawyer for individuals and organizations in distress, representing closely held corporations, gaming companies, insurance companies, engineering companies, law firms, accounting firms and companies and individuals that were subjects of state, federal and congressional investigations.
In March 2008, Goldstein left the Saiber firm to join Sills Cummis & Gross in Newark, where he also carried on business litigation and white-collar defense. He left Sills in 2013 to join his current firm, where he continues to engage in an active litigation practice and also participates as a mediator in the resolution of business disputes.
Goldstein’s white-collar criminal defense work has involved some notorious cases, such as the defense of Great Adventure in the aftermath of the 1984 Haunted Castle fire that trapped and killed eight teenagers, and the representation of Robert Janazewski, the former executive director of Hudson County, who was charged with political corruption and later became a government witness in a series of federal prosecutions.
He was designated by the Board of Public Utilities to investigate and then litigate antitrust lawsuits against solid waste collectors who were alleged to have conspired to restrain trade in the allocation of solid waste retail territories.
Goldstein’s dispute-resolution work has often been under cover of confidentiality, and his proudest accomplishment is a case he can’t identify by name. He represented a large, closely held New Jersey corporation and its chairman in an internecine battle with shareholders that went on for years before resolution.
The aging chairman was unprepared to surrender total control of the company to his children, who were shareholders. Nor did he want to sell the corporation to a third party, which would have resulted in the shareholders receiving hundreds of millions of dollars. The one with the most talent to run the business was reluctantly considering litigation against his father to force a change in governance. The relationship between the father and his children thus was strained and there was mutual suspicion among the siblings.
"Over the course of several years, in my capacity as outside general counsel, I guided the principal players to reach an accommodation by arranging for all of them to retain counsel, engaging in ongoing settlement discussions and encouraging all of the shareholders to reflect on the salutary benefits of a consensual successor plan, as contrasted with the risks of a prolonged litigation," Goldstein says.
The result: an agreement reached among all the shareholders that provided for a change in governance and built-in protection for all shareholders.
Service to the Court
Goldstein has been appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court to a variety of volunteer panels, including the Committee on the Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Complex Commercial Subtrack Advisory Committee, the Trial Attorney Certification Board and the Fee Arbitration Committee for Essex County. He currently sits on the Special New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on Telephonic and Electronic Search Warrants, and on the Committee on Bench, Bar and Media.
His federal court service includes memberships on the Lawyers Advisory Committees of the U.S. District Court for New Jersey and of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He has also chaired a merit selection panel to consider appointment of a magistrate judge for the Trenton vicinage.
Goldstein has been active throughout his career in promoting continuing legal education. While executive assistant U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey, he was frequently invited to lecture at the Attorney General’s Advocacy Institute in Quantico, Va.
Also in the 1970s, he taught at Rutgers Law School-Newark as an adjunct faculty member on prosecution and defense of white-collar crime, as well as on legal writing.
He served as a founding faculty member of the Trial Advocacy Institute of the University of Virginia for more than 16 years, using innovative methods to teach every aspect of the trial of a case to law students and lawyers from diverse parts of the United States.
He currently teaches a course on mediation of business disputes as a member of the Rutgers Law School-Newark adjunct faculty.
Goldstein has been a relentless continuing legal education lecturer, in courses for the New Jersey and New York bars, on all aspects of trial advocacy, legal malpractice and issues relating to business litigation and the prosecution and defense of white collar crime.
He has also authored a wealth of published articles on such topics as corporate fraud and internal investigations.
His public service includes work for the New Jersey Performing Arts Center as a trustee, for the American Jewish Committee, Metropolitan New Jersey chapter, as vice president, and the Board of Directors of the Relational Medicine Foundation.
Goldstein, himself the recipient of a heart transplant, is vice president of the New Jersey Sharing Network, which is responsible for the collection and distribution of transplanted organs for the state of New Jersey.
His legal work has drawn numerous distinctions. They include the Justice William H. Brennan Jr. Award, conferred by the Association of Federal Bar, in recognition of his lifetime commitment to the legal profession; the Trial Attorneys of New Jersey Award for excellence in litigation; and awards conferred by the New Jersey State Bar Association and Essex County professionalism committees.
The Law Journal award will be conferred at a banquet to be held June 19 at Brooklake Country Club in Florham Park, at which winners and finalists of the Litigation Department of the Year competition also will be honored. •