A lawyer who served as one of Gov. Chris Christie’s closest friends and political advisors is moving down the street to a different Newark law firm.
Bill Palatucci is departing Gibbons P.C. for McCarter & English and is expected to start on August 31.
“We are honored to welcome Bill to our team. His extensive experience with legal and public policy issues that affect both private and public sector clients is unparalleled,” said Joe Boccassini, McCarter’s managing partner. “Our national base of clients will greatly benefit from his knowledge of how major public policy decisions may impact their businesses.”
Guillermo Artiles, the firm’s government affairs chief, said that Palatucci will join the firm’s “burgeoning government affairs team in Trenton and Washington.”
“I look forward to developing a deeper friendship and partnership with Bill,” Artiles said. “Together, we look forward to building an even stronger bipartisan practice.”
The transition looks to be easy. Palatucci was never a partner at Gibbons, but worked on a series of short-term contracts as a Special Counsel.
The separation of Palatucci from Gibbons was genial, the Globe was told, and some suggest that McCarter & English offered him more money.
At Gibbons, he was also given latitude to pursue his outside interests: Palatucci is the Republican National Committeeman from New Jersey and spent considerable time on Christie’s presidential campaign and the U.S. Senate campaign of Bob Hugin in 2018.
Two sources say that Palatucci is involved in Christie’s new business venture to secure COVID-19 relief funding from the federal government. Two local officials told the Globe that Palatucci contacted them about hiring him and Christie several months ago, although a spokesman for Palatucci says that isn’t the case.
Palatucci ran several statewide campaigns and was a partner at Dughi, Hewit & Palatucci – he hired Christie as an associate at the firm in the 1980s – and then as senior vice president and general counsel at a controversial company that ran for-profit halfway houses.
He joined Gibbons in late 2012 after his role at Community Education Centers emerged as a potential issue for Christie as he began to consider a bid for the presidency.
Palatucci had played a role on the Trump White House transition team until two days after the 2016 presidential election when the president-elect replaced Christie. Palatucci was demoted at the same time.
It’s not immediately clear how Palatucci’s departure will affect Gibbons’ Washington, D.C. office, which Palatucci opened following Trump’s election.
Gibbons received millions in legal fees while Christie was governor.
The Star-Ledger reported in 2016 that Gibbons billed more than $3 million to defend the state against a whistleblower lawsuit filed by former Assistant Hunterdon County Prosecutor Bennett Barlyn.
In a statement, Palatucci said that he has “long admired the work and people at McCarter.”
“(I) now look forward to expanding my practice there with distinguished lawyers like Judge Jose Linares, who I have known for many years,” said Palatucci. “I am truly excited to concentrate on federal and state legislative issues throughout McCarter’s footprint, from Washington to Trenton to Boston.”