Two veteran trial lawyers will receive the New Jersey State Bar Foundation’s highest award. The Medal of Honor will be given this year to Newark attorney Michael R. Griffinger for his longtime dedication to his profession, clients and community; and to Roseland attorney Richard J. Badolato for his commitment to fostering professionalism in the practice of law. 
 
The award, given each year to candidates who have made outstanding contributions to improving the justice system in New Jersey, will be presented at the foundation’s annual Medal of Honor Awards Dinner Reception on June 20, at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick.
 
***

Michael Griffinger

“I am deeply gratified to be the recipient of this high honor,” said Griffinger. “The bar in New Jersey is extraordinarily attuned to serving the public, both professionally and with community service. I am happy to have been able to make my modest contribution to that ethic.”
 
Griffinger has built an illustrious career. A litigator in federal and state courts for more than 40 years, he has conducted trials and hearings in those courts in New York, Florida, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, California, Nevada and New Jersey. As director of business and commercial litigation at Gibbons P.C., he focuses primarily on corporate and commercial disputes, securities litigation and antitrust matters. Among his recent clients is the New Jersey Legislature, which he represented in litigation involving professional sports leagues’ attacks on legislation authorizing sports betting in the state. Other high-profile clients include Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae, Amgen Inc., PSE&G, CSX, Hearst Publications, Akzo Nobel, Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. and the city council and mayor of Newark. His estate litigation has involved some of the world’s wealthiest billionaires, including Ronald Perelman, Andrey Melnichenko and the late Yung-Ching Wang.
 
“The foundation’s Medal of Honor is the latest in a long series of accolades for a career distinguished by the highest levels of skill, professionalism, compassion, integrity, and collegiality. Every day, Michael Griffinger’s dedication to his clients, community, profession, and firm earns him such recognition,” said Patrick C. Dunican Jr., chairman and managing director of Gibbons.

Regularly included in the Best Lawyers annual national guide, he attained the exceptional honor of being selected by his peers to be ranked in seven separate practice area categories in the 2013 edition.
Griffinger received his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a joint J.D.-M.B.A. from, respectively, Columbia Law School and Columbia School of Business. He is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, American Bar Foundation and International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He was named Professional Lawyers of the Year in 1999 by the New Jersey Commission on Professionalism in the Law, and received the Civil Practice Achievement Award from the Essex County Bar Association in 1997. Griffinger received the 2010 William J. Brennan Jr. Award from the Association of the Federal Bar of New Jersey and in the same year was awarded the Trial Attorneys of New Jersey Award.
 
A longtime member of the New Jersey State Bar Association, he is the founder and past chair of its Federal Practices and Procedures Committee, and in 2009 was appointed chair of the association’s Judicial and Prosecutorial Appointments Committee, which screens candidates considered by the governor for judgeships or appointments as county prosecutor. Griffinger has also been instrumental in making Volunteer Lawyers for Justice into a viable nonprofit, providing help to those who can’t afford to hire an attorney. Additionally, at Gibbons he created the nationally renowned John J. Gibbons Fellowship in Public Interest and Constitutional Law, which supports two attorneys serving as Gibbons fellows on behalf of the poor and underrepresented in New Jersey. He is also a member of the board of trustees of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and has served as chair of the Greater Newark Holiday Fund and co-chairman of the Fresh Air Fund, which raises money to send children to camp.
 
“The New Jersey State Bar Foundation is proud to bestow its highest honor on Michael Griffinger,” said Stuart Lederman, foundation president. “For over four decades he has utilized his skills to serve his clients and to set an example of public service for the legal profession. Perhaps this is best evidenced by his longstanding efforts on behalf of Volunteer Lawyers for Justice. He has dedicated his extraordinary career to serving his profession, his clients and the bar at the highest levels.”
 
Griffinger and his wife reside in Basking Ridge. They have three daughters and five grandchildren.
 
***

Richard Badolato
Badolato’s legal career has been marked by nearly five decades of extraordinary ongoing service not only to his clients but to the bar, the legal profession, the New Jersey State Bar Association, the New Jersey State Bar Foundation, and the American Bar Association, as well as the executive and judicial branches of New Jersey state government.
 
“Whether as an advocate, mentor, partner, committee member, panelist, chair, trustee, president or otherwise,” said Glenn T. Dyer, Esq. of Dyer & Peterson P.C., one of several colleagues who nominated him, “[his] love of the law; devotion to his clients, partners and associates; dedication to the independence and proficiency of our Judiciary; promotion of the betterment of bench-bar relations and commitment to building a justice system worthy of public trust is unparalleled.”
 
Retired Superior Court Judge Daniel Waldman called him “one of the most dedicated contributors to the state bar,” who has “given his lifeblood to ensure professionalism in the bar.”
 
Badolato was humble about the achievement.
 
“I am honored to be the recipient of the Medal of Honor,” he said. “To be in the company of all the past awardees makes this award very special and something I will treasure forever.”
 
After obtaining his B.B.A. from Fairfield University and J.D. from Rutgers University School of Law, Badolato began his career in 1965 as clerk to James Giuliano, the then-assignment judge of Essex County. The following year he joined the Livingston firm of Morgan, Melhuish, Monaghan & Spiegelvogel, Esqs., as an associate, subsequently rising to managing partner and then partner. Since 1982, he has been a partner at Connell Foley LLP, Roseland.
 
AV-rated annually by Martindale-Hubbell since 1977, Badolato received the Middlesex County Trial Lawyers Association 2010 Herman L. Breitkopf Award for “honesty, integrity, intelligence and an unwavering concern for the welfare of the bar and its members.” Among his many other honors and awards, he chaired the Court’s Commission on Professionalism in the Law for three years and currently chairs the Court’s Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics. He is a recipient of the American Board of Trial Advocates’ John B. LaVecchia Achievement Award for outstanding efforts to elevate the quality of trial advocacy and the image of the bar, and was a recipient of Seton Hall School of Law’s Peter W. Rodino Outstanding Achievement Award.
 
A member of the NJSBA since 1965, in 2002-2003 he served as its president. He held the same office with the New Jersey State Bar Foundation from 2009 through 2011. He has been a member of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Litigation Section since 1982 and a member of the ABA’s Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section since 1987 and is a past state chair of the ABA’s Fellows of the American Bar Foundation. He was elected to membership in the International Society of Defense Counsel and named a diplomat and advocate by the American Board of Trial Advocates. He also serves on Governor Chris Christie’s Judicial Advisory Committee.
 
“Richie Badolato has amassed a remarkable record of commitment to professionalism and ethics,” said Lederman. “His many years of involvement with the New Jersey State Bar Association and the state bar foundation, both as a trustee and officer, have had significant impact on lawyers, the administration of justice and the education of the public throughout the state. I look forward to presenting him with the foundation’s highest award.”
 
In 1987, he coordinated a nationwide discovery effort while representing two defendants in the largest piece of civil litigation in United States history. In all, Badolato has tried more than 313 litigated civil matters to conclusion and has handled more than 30 appeals in both state and federal courts. His cases have involved malpractice defense, construction and automobile legislation, and all manner of liability and insurance matters. 
 
“He has,” said Dyer, “an uncanny ability to bridge gaps and form consensus.”
 
He has delivered lectures for the ABA, the Institute for Continuing Legal Education and the NJSBA. He has served as special editor for issues of the New Jersey Lawyer Magazine and authored an article on trial techniques for the publication.
 
Badolato and his wife Betty reside in Morristown. They have five children, and five grandchildren.
***
The foundation’s annual Medal of Honor Awards Reception begins at 6 p.m. on June 20 and is open to everyone. For information, please contact the Bar Foundation at 732-937-7518.