The Deni family of Hunterdon County is proud to have two Seton Hall Law graduates, William P. Deni Sr. ’72, and son William P. Deni Jr. ’03. So when the mailing about the Seton Hall Law Rising capital campaign arrived, the younger Deni got on the phone with his father.
“He called me and said, ‘What do you think about making a gift to the law school?’” recalls Deni. “The law school was very good to me and has played a very integral role in my life, and it has been equally rewarding for my son to be a Seton Hall graduate, so I said, ‘Why not.’”
The family, including Deni’s wife, Judi, and daughter Joanne, has presented the law school with $200,000. In appreciation of that gift, the law school coffee shop will be named Cafe Deni.
“We had to decide between the faculty law library or the coffee shop,” said Deni Sr. “Since I spent more time in the coffee lounge than the library back in the old days, it was an easy decision.”
Today the younger Deni is a lawyer with Gibbons P.C., while his father has run a successful family and criminal law firm for more than 35 years, William P. Deni, Sr. Law Offices in Flemington and Princeton.
During the course of his career, the elder Deni also has been a prominent presence within New Jersey’s political landscape. He served as an assistant prosecutor, as Deputy Attorney General, as legal counsel to Assemblyman Thomas H. Kean, former Minority Leader, Republican State Assembly, and later as legal counsel to former Senator Walter E. Foran. While serving as counsel to the State Assembly, he assisted with the formation of The Model Criminal Code of New Jersey.
He was offered the opportunity of becoming Hunterdon County Prosecutor, as well as a Superior Court Judgeship, but turned them both down.
“I enjoyed running a private practice and the flexibility it provided me to be there for my family and pursue other business interests,” he explains.
Both of his children were exceptional athletes through their high school and college years. He made a point to attend as many games as possible. In fact, during his son’s college years at Colgate, he traveled to over 80 soccer games around the country and only missed three, keeping up with his work on airplanes and in hotel rooms. “How many fathers can say that? The practice of law has been really good to me,” he says. “There is no way I could have attended as many of my children’s athletic events if I had not been my own boss.”
The practice of family and criminal law is also very much a people business, another aspect that very much appeals to Deni. As someone who places a priority on helping others, he established a trust at St. John’s Church to assist victims of flooding and other natural disasters in Lambertville. He is a parishioner at St. John’s Church in Lambertville and St. Francis Church in Long Beach Island. He also is involved with the Delaware Valley Inter-Faith Council Food Bank.
“I enjoy helping people. It’s the greatest feeling,” he says. “My two Italian grandmothers are looking down on me with a smile since they expected nothing less.”