Meet Network Member: Vito Gagliardi, Jr.

Dec 1, 2018 | News & Updates

Vito A. Gagliardi, Jr.

In this edition, we profile Vito Gagliardi, Jr., of Porzio Bromberg & Newman P.C. our New Jersey Member Firm. Vito serves as Managing Principal of Porzio, Bromberg & Newman and in this capacity, he also serves as President and CEO of the firm’s subsidiaries, Porzio Life Sciences, Porzio Governmental Affairs and Porzio Compliance Services. He also co-chairs the firm’s Litigation Practice Group and the Education and Employment Team.

How do you describe your practice?

I am an employment defense attorney with a specialty in education law. I routinely represent public and private schools, colleges and universities. My practice encompasses a wide range of matters including student disciplinary matters, bid disputes, and contract issues. I also handle reconfiguration matters which entail creating or disbanding regional school districts.

You are both a practicing trial lawyer and the Managing Principal at your firm. How do you balance the demands of your practice against the necessities of your leadership role?

I believe the key to my success is that I am surrounded with great people. I love being a lawyer too much to give it up. My partners understood this when they elected me to this role. Within my practice and my role in leadership, I am simply surrounded by solid people I respect and trust. In both cases, it has created the side benefit of providing for sound succession planning. My clients are becoming more comfortable with professionals younger than I am because of their proven value. In fact, four of the five people I appointed to the management committee are younger than I am, and two of the five are women. We are now able to develop a younger and more diverse firm and practice management workforce. Our clients are the biggest beneficiaries of this strategic method.

What do you consider are Porzio’s differentiators?

Innovation and value are the two areas where I believe Porzio stands out among law firms. We all recognize that being outstanding lawyers, offering fair, value-based pricing, and excellent client service are table stakes. Every law firm and lawyer must embody these characteristics just to survive. We look to go beyond these core elements to offer our clients innovative approaches and value that aligns with their business needs. One notable way that we do this is through our three wholly-owned subsidiary companies that help us serve clients in very unique ways. We now live in an era where other business entities are encroaching on duties traditionally relegated to law firms. In our case, we are positioned to provide additional services which create a multifaceted approach to client services. All three of our subsidiaries allow us to employ business professionals and consultants who are experts in their respective fields.

For example, our Porzio Life Sciences subsidiary has built an international reputation over the past decade for serving the life sciences industry. We are advising clients on how best to handle the incredibly intricate maze of regulations they face. This subsidiary has relationships with 250 companies operating around the world. This expertise on how to be compliant is represented by an extraordinary group of people who have developed an unprecedented amount of knowledge in this area as a result of building the databases and technology solutions that our Porzio LS customers rely on.

Porzio Compliance Services is a subsidiary that provides advice in a number of different areas. One of particular interest within the legal industry relates to data privacy and cyber security. Within this team you can find a diverse group of professionals including attorneys with experience within this space, and other professionals including the former head of the New Jersey Field Office for the United States Secret Service Agency who serves as a Vice President. Our clients benefit from having the ability to work with us in multiple contexts, while at the same time knowing that they can engage the law firm and have that attorney client relationship as the need arises.

Porzio Governmental Affairs, our third subsidiary, helps clients interact with state government and also helps us stay on top of issues at the state and local level that impact our clients.

What do you consider to be your professional differentiators?

From a legal perspective, I am one of just five percent of the lawyers in New Jersey who are certified by the Supreme Court as civil trial attorneys. The certification requires a significant amount of trial experience, coupled with references from adversaries and judges, and ultimately an exam. This designation gives my clients a sense of comfort that I am an experienced attorney still operating in the trenches. Based on some of the market feedback that we have received, I have also heard that my clients value the approach I take to growing and maintaining my relationships. My clients know that they are an important part of the Porzio family, and we take that very seriously.

How do you define a good trial attorney?

A good trial attorney is able to think on his or her feet. A good trial attorney does not become entangled in the excitement of an adversarial proceeding, forgetting the trust extended by the client. A good trial attorney makes decision which are guided and informed precisely by that sacred trust. Finally, good trial attorneys understand that their clients have granted them the honor of championing their cause and always keep that at the forefront of their strategy and case execution.

How do you stay connected to trends and changes in the legal industry?

I read constantly. Our subsidiaries are critical to dealing with the biggest challenges and changes in our industry. A decade ago the biggest competition we faced came from other law firms. Today, we are witnessing a trend of artificial intelligence and Big Four accounting firms encroaching on legal services. There is an ever-increasing number of entities now competing for a pie that is not growing. The folks who are offering legal counsel enhanced by services not typically associated with the practice of law are simply building a better mouse trap. I pay attention to these changes within the business of law and aim to remain ahead of the curve.

What experiences have shaped your perspective most? How?

I cannot separate the way I was raised from the way I treat people every day. My grandparents had limited education and worked hard all of their lives. My parents and grandparents taught me the value of relationships and how to interact with all people genuinely and respectfully. Additionally, a former mentor of mine taught me that the most precious thing a lawyer has to sell is his judgment. I believe this is particularly relevant now when information is at everyone’s literal finger tips. If clients only wanted a ‘legal answer’ they can obtain it without you. An attorney’s value is found in his/her intellect, experience and judgment. People will be happy to pay you for that over and over again. These qualities will not be replaced by artificial intelligence or by someone who simply offers low rates.

What area(s) of the law are you currently monitoring? Why?

We pay attention to practice areas at their earliest stages. For example, we were ahead of the data security/privacy concern trend. We started to look at all the ways to protect information and tried to better understand how privacy is threatened. We also identified and mobilized around the legalization of cannabis and online gaming. We are now able to represent clients within these industries in a thoughtful and multifaceted manner.

What is your client service philosophy?

Responsiveness. Our industry is plagued with complaints from clients which are heavily based on a lack of responsiveness. It is mind boggling that responding to clients is a struggle for a lot of attorneys. To me, it is an easy way to enhance your reputation and solidify your relationship with clients.

How do you describe your ideal clients?

I give my clients advice and welcome their challenges. My ideal client is not someone who blindly listens, but someone who views me as their strategic partner.

Describe Porzio’s firm culture?

There is mutual respect shown to everyone regardless of title. Unfortunately, the best example that comes to mind is a sad one. This past January we lost an employee who was murdered in an act of domestic violence. In our fast-moving news cycle, we had only a couple of hours to communicate internally. We were deliberate about who we told on a one-on-one basis and who we told within a group setting. This is not something you plan to do beforehand, there is no drill for such an event. However, without exception every person who received the news on a one-on-one basis provided critical feedback on how to help others manage their grief. The event was tragic and profoundly sad, yet the day was inspirational.

We are experiencing historically low turnover. In my view, it is not difficult to identify jobs where you can make more money in our marketplace. However, there is ‘something’ more that keeps great people here.

What has been your experience with the Network?

My first meeting back in August 2016 left two lasting impressions. First, the caliber and reputation of the attorneys and firms involved with the Network was immediately apparent. Second, at the time the Texas-member firm was undergoing a split. The process of a firm split is very difficult, disruptive and time consuming. Despite these factors, both segments of the firm made it a priority to send representatives to the Network’s meeting to try and maintain the relationship. This was quite impressive and spoke volumes of the value they attributed to the membership.

My first exposure was extremely favorable, and my opinion remains the same.

Can you give an example of a matter in which you worked collaboratively with other Network firms?

Personally, yes, we had a matter which involved someone facing an NCAA investigation, and there are only a handful of firms who handle this type of work. I was delighted to learn that Lightfoot Franklin and White, the Network’s Alabama-member firm, was one of them. I was able to connect with the firm and together we immediately assembled a responsive team. Our client was found not to be responsible for the alleged violations, and it was an overall very successful experience.

How could you bring value to fellow Network members?

Our attorneys are good at what they do, they are responsive, and I am confident in our relationship with the state and federal judiciary in New Jersey. We pride ourselves on bringing credibility to the roles we serve. With our lobbying subsidiary we are able to help member firms beyond New Jersey courtrooms and transactional settings. We have three law offices in the state coupled with a lobbying office in Trenton, making us a geographically strategic partner.

Why would you recommend a firm join the Network?

Our experience at Network events – – meeting potential clients, referral sources and/or cementing current client relationships – – all of these factors come to fruition as you would hope. I believe the organization is rife with opportunities based on the quality of the people involved and those attracted to the Network.

Are there any issues you are currently passionate about?

When I took over as Managing Principal, the main thing I wanted to do was acquire talent. To that end, we brought in lateral partners, a great CMO, and exceptional non-attorneys for our subsidiaries. I am passionate about my role in leading the process by which we acquire talent. I am intentional when I say talent. Our goal is not to fill empty offices or to grow our bottom line without strategy.

Recently, at a luncheon for staff, I thanked them for being my most frequent jury. It is truly gratifying to hear positive feedback from long-term employees regarding new people who have joined the firm. It is a glimpse into how the process is working. While our balance sheet says this will be a great year, there is nothing like confirmation about the future, in terms of the quality of those coming up the ranks and those being added to the firm.

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5602 Marquesas Circle, Suite 205; Sarasota, FL 34233 | 914.332.4400

"TRIAL.COM", "The Network", and "The Lawyers' Knowledge Network" are registered service marks of The Network of Trial Law Firms, Inc.
© 2019 - The Network of Trial Law Firms, Inc.