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Matt Platkin, Gov. Phil Murphy's Chief Counsel, at a coronavirus briefing in Trenton. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe.)

Platkin to depart as Murphy’ chief counsel

Governor’s top lawyer will join Lowenstein Sandler

By David Wildstein, September 16 2020 6:00 pm

Matt Platkin is leaving his post as chief counsel to Gov. Phil Murphy next month to join a private law firm.

Platkin will become a partner at Lowenstein Sandler, a New Jersey-based national law firm.

He is expected to depart his state post in mid-October, following the adoption of the state budget.  Murphy is in the process of negotiating a budget with legislative leaders in advance of the September 30 deadline.

Murphy has not yet picked a replacement.

The 33-year-old attorney has been one of Murphy’s top aides since 2016, when he joined New way for New Jersey, Murphy’s non-profit, in 2016.  He served as policy director for the Murphy for Governor campaign in 2017.

Platkin signed on for Murphy at a time when the future governor was considered the number three candidate in a three-man field.

“For the past five years, Matt has been by my side counseling me on every single consequential decision I’ve made,” Murphy said. “From raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour to enacting the nation’s strongest equal pay legislation, Matt has served our Administration with integrity, talent, and a deep sense of purpose. I look forward to continuing to rely on his counsel as he begins the next chapter of his professional life.”

He ranked #9 on the 2019 New Jersey Globe Power List of the top 100 officials in the state.

“Serving Governor Murphy as Chief Counsel has been the honor of my lifetime,” said Platkin. “From promoting commonsense gun safety to guaranteeing paid sick leave to reforming our criminal justice system, we’ve made meaningful progress to improve the lives of every New Jerseyan.”

As chief counsel, Platkin has written a record number of executive orders as a result of Murphy’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

His tenure has been relatively long for a chief counsel, serving the longest since Cary Edwards held the job for the entire four years of Gov. Tom Kean’s first term, from 1982 to 1986.

Platkin is also one of the youngest people to serve as chief counsel in modern New Jersey history, along with Stephen B. Wiley, who was also 31 when he held the post under Gov. Robert Meyner in 1960.

Platkin expressed his appreciation to Murphy for his chance to serve.

“I’d like to thank the Governor, Lieutenant Governor Oliver, First Lady, and my exceptional colleagues for giving me the opportunity to fight for a stronger and fairer New Jersey for every family, and I look forward to continuing to be part of the Murphy team in the years ahead,” he said.

Platkin will join one of his predecessors at Lowenstein Sandler: Christopher Porrino, a former state attorney general who was Gov. Chris Christie’s chief counsel, is a partner at the firm.

He left Murphy’s staff for 20 days earlier this year to join U.S. Senator Cory Booker’s staff  on a short-term basis during the Senate trial of President Donald Trump.

During his absence, Robert Garrenger, a career state employee, served as acting chief counsel.

Platkin first became involved in politics volunteering for Booker’s first Senate race in 2013.

A graduate of Stanford University and Stanford Law School, Platkin was editor of the Stanford Law Review and worked at Debevoise & Plimpton before signing on for Murphy’s gubernatorial campaign.

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