Brach Eichler has entered the lobbying business through an affiliated company that will open its doors in Trenton on Oct. 28.
The new entity, Brach Eichler Government Affairs LLC, acquired a well-established Trenton shop, State Street Partners, staffed by two veteran lobbyists who will continue to run it—but under the Brach Eichler brand.
“We think Brach Eichler has a brand in a lot of the key industries in New Jersey,” says John Fanburg, managing partner of the 60-lawyer Roseland firm.
He says that brand recognition should draw clients to the new enterprise, in addition to existing law firm clients that until now have been using other firms for government affairs work.
Brach Eichler also hopes clients of the lobbying company will need legal representation.
“Every day in our law practice, we see where the law and politics intersect, and how regulations are increasingly shaping the business climate in New Jersey,” Fanburg says. “We launched Brach Eichler Government Affairs as a natural extension of our law practice.”
Fanburg declines to comment on the precise ownership or investment structure of the lobbying company, except to say it is not owned by the law firm and there is no revenue-sharing arrangement with the law firm.
The new unit will be housed at State Street Partners’ headquarters adjacent to the Statehouse in Trenton. State Street founder Rocco Iossa and partner Alan Steinberg will continue to focus on health-care, pharmaceutical, environmental, transportation and real estate industries, in addition to whatever new work Brach Eichler can draw.
In recent years, State Street’s clients have included Constellation Energy, ConocoPhillips Co., Lowe’s Home Centers Inc., University Health Plans Inc., Actavis and Western Pest Services, according to reports filed with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission.
State Street has specialized in executive branch lobbying, specifically with the governor’s office and state agencies.
It also has an office in Washington, D.C., where it represents clients before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It also represents clients before the U.S. departments of Health and Human Services, Transportation, Energy, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, and Homeland Security.
Fanburg and others at the law firm knew Iossa from his three-year stint in the early 1990s as a health-care, corporate and commercial lawyer at what was then Brach, Eichler, Rosenberg, Silver, Bernstein, Hammer & Gladstone.
Discussions began several months ago, after partner Mark Manigan discovered he and Iossa had a common client, Fanburg says, declining to name it.
Iossa “was a known person that we’ve liked and trusted,” Fanburg says. “The fact that we do have this pre-existing relationship makes it so much easier.”
Iossa, a graduate of Drew University and Seton Hall University School of Law, was admitted to practice in New Jersey in 1990. He was a legislative aide to Dean Gallo, a five-term Morris County Republican in Congress, and in 1991 joined Brach Eichler. He left the firm in 1994 to serve as senior counsel and then appointments counsel to Gov. Christine Todd Whitman. He founded State Street in 1998.
Steinberg previously served as a regional administrator with the EPA, a regional advocate for the federal Small Business Administration, executive director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and in other government posts. He also has been in private practice and worked as a corporate counsel and in the U.S. Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He graduated from Northwestern University and the University of Wisconsin School of Law and was admitted in 1976.
In a statement, Steinberg says the launch “allows us to align the resources and contacts of one of the state’s most well-regarded law firms with our deep understanding of New Jersey’s political environment.”
Fanburg says there’s no long-term strategic plan to grow the lobbying business, but adds he’s open to expanding.
State Street generated $545,613 in revenue last year, ranking 26th among the 85 lobbying firms that reported income, according to a March report by the N.J. Election Law Enforcement Commission. That was a 6.6 percent increase over $511,862 in 2011.
The 2012 top-earning firm was Princeton Public Affairs Group Inc., with $8.36 million in revenue.
Gibbons, with offices in Newark and Trenton, ranked first among lawyer-lobbyists, taking in $1.78 million.
Brach Eichler was No. 30 on the Law Journal‘s most recent list of the state’s top-grossing law firms, with $27.9 million in gross revenue in 2012.
Brach Eichler has a unique history, having been founded twice.
It was founded in 1967 as Eichler, Rosenberg & Silver with eight lawyers in downtown Newark. The firm moved to East Orange in 1972 and Roseland in 1982, after which it grew steadily to 40 lawyers, then 50, then close to 60.
In 2003, it merged with Wolf, Block, Schorr & Solis-Cohen—becoming the third large Philadelphia firm to annex its way into New Jersey at the time. The merger pushed Wolf Block’s lawyer ranks above the 300 mark.
The marriage was short-lived, as Wolf Block’s partners voted to dissolve in 2009, amidst lawyer defections, the recession and a failed attempt at merger with Akerman Senterfitt of Miami and Cozen O’Connor of Philadelphia.
About 50 lawyers, including Wolf Block’s 22-lawyer Cherry Hill office, went to Philadelphia’s Duane Morris. Cozen ended up absorbing 70 lawyers. Others went their separate ways.
But almost all of the lawyers who years earlier had constituted Brach Eichler decided to stick together and maintain the Roseland office.
It wasn’t out of necessity, either: Fanburg—managing partner then, too—said at the time that he received 30 calls the day Wolf Block dissolved, but most of them were out-of-state firms that didn’t understand the New Jersey market.
By January 2010, after a short-term loan, the firm was debt-free and revenues had stabilized. •