In the News

New Jersey Trailblazers

New Jersey Law Journal

August 26, 2019

Congratulations to Managing Partner Max Crane and Member Jerry Zaro on being named “New Jersey Trailblazers” by the New Jersey Law Journal. This inaugural award recognizes legal professionals who have made significant marks on the practice, policy and technological advancements in their sector.

The New Jersey Law Journal stated, “We are proud to spotlight a handful of individuals who are truly agents of change.”

The New Jersey Law Journal had this to say about Crane and Zaro:

Max Crane
“When R. Max Crane recruits lawyers, he tells them life in a mid-size firm is different. ‘We have very few rules in our firm. And really almost every one of those rules has an exception.’ As managing partner, Crane is rethinking the mid-size firm, stressing the human aspects of law. ‘It allows me to permit people who have different skills, different talents and different abilities to focus on what they’re good at rather than on what the firm wants them to be good at.’

“Coming out of an appellate clerkship, Crane easily could have landed in Big Law. But he was looking for the ‘sweet spot’ where lawyers can express their entrepreneurial spirits.  He recalls interviewing a lawyer from a smaller operation who also was being recruited by big firms. ‘The first question he asked me was, ‘Who do I report to?’ My answer was, ‘You report to no one.  I just need you to keep me informed so we don’t step over each other inadvertently on a conflict.’ The point was that ‘I didn’t recruit him to change him. I recruited him because he was so successful and I wanted him to transfer that success to our firm.’

“Crane sees advantages in mid-size firms that neither Big Law nor boutiques can claim.  Smaller firms often are too tied to the vision of one or two leaders.  And big firms ‘will be choking on their expansion’ during the next economic downturn.  But firms like his, Crane believes, will remain a home for self-starting lawyers who cherish the risks they’re allowed to take. ‘Sometimes those risks pan out, sometimes they don’t.  But if you give people ownership and allow them to play to their strengths, more often than not they’re going to succeed.’”

Jerry Zaro
“For decades, Jerry Zaro has used his skills as a real estate lawyer on public projects ranging from highway construction to economic development. Nothing, though, compares to his latest role: chairman of the Gateway Development Corp., overseeing a new tunnel under the Hudson River between New Jersey and New York. The existing, century-old North River Tunnels are badly deteriorated, and a collapse would endanger thousands of commuters and devastate the region’s economy.  ‘Once I was asked to help, I didn’t hesitate.  This is a national emergency.’

“Zaro, who heads his firm’s real estate and banking department, has served under New Jersey’s past eight governors – five Democrats and three Republicans.  He has been commissioner and chairman of the New Jersey Highway Authority, commissioner of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority and the ‘economic czar’ under Govs. Jon Corzine and Chris Christie. ‘I like to think it’s because people think I’m a fair and unbiased umpire in calling balls and strikes and that I have some judgment to bring to a task.’ His impartiality has been tested by President Donald Trump’s refusal to honor an agreement that would split funding for the project between the federal government and the states. ‘We’re effectively a political hostage of the current administration.’

“Zaro knows he may not see the Gateway project through to fruition.  Once the funding dispute is resolved, years of engineering, property acquisition and construction will follow – all of which only adds to the urgency he feels to move swiftly. ‘We’re talking about a decade.  That is why every day is of utmost importance.  We haven’t got a day to waste.  We don’t have a Plan B.’”