Frank Cannone ’91, A Commitment to Building a Life that is Both Faithful to the Past— and Open to the Future
Chairman of the Corporate Department
Gibbons PC, Newark NJ
Seton Hall University’s mission statement declares that “the Catholicity of Seton Hall is a call to action and a commitment to building a life that is both faithful to the past – and open to the future.” Frank Cannone ’91 feels the same commitment, and has built his career to reflect the University’s call to action.
“I am fortunate to be a graduate of Seton Hall Law School because they are committed to legal excellence while maintaining Catholic values,” he says. “I feel every alumnus has an obligation to give back to the school and help expand its reach and reputation.”
It is this strong conviction that led Cannone to make a substantial personal gift to the alumni campaign this year. “I want to help Seton Hall Law School to become the leading Catholic university law school in the country,” he explains. “When I was a student, the school did not have the national recognition it does today. I’m proud to say that the Law School’s reach now extends to the country’s best law firms, public interest organizations, the judiciary and even corporations.”
While a student at Boston College, Cannone’s goal was to attend business school and work for a Fortune 50 Company. But a job working as a tax auditor for the IRS sparked an interest in both tax and real estate law, and he decided to go to law school. “I chose Seton Hall Law School because they had an excellent program and a focus on the New York/New Jersey area,” he explains.
“When I started at Seton Hall, my main interest was transactional law, and I took classes in corporate law, securities, and real estate,” he says. “A summer internship at Cahill Gordon & Reindell gave me tremendous exposure and experience with corporate law, and by my third year I was completely focused on corporate.”
After graduation, Cannone practiced at national law firms in New York and remained focused on corporate law. Ultimately, he became a partner in the corporate department at Paul Hastings in New York City, where he was also Co-Vice Chair of the New York City Office.
“I had a great career there that I really enjoyed, when I was recruited to chair the corporate department of Gibbons P.C. by Patrick Dunican, a law school classmate from Seton Hall and Managing Director of the firm,” he says. “Most people were surprised and disagreed with my decision to leave Paul Hastings, but I saw a real need in the marketplace for a strong middle-market corporate practice and Gibbons offered me a wonderful opportunity to create and grow such a practice.”
Cannone’s ability to detect and respond to needs in the legal marketplace has been instrumental to Frank’s success. After little more than five years on the job, Frank has grown the corporate practice into one of the area’s top practice groups. In 2010, for the third year in a row, DOW JONES named Gibbons P.C. among the top-ranked private equity firms nationwide for 2009, both in number of deals and number of funds. In addition, Gibbons was named to the National Law Journal’s "Midsize Hot List" for 2009 in part to its leading corporate practice. They were one of only 20 firms nationwide and the only New Jersey firm to be included.
“Given the challenging economy last year, it is an exceptional accomplishment to have maintained such an in-demand practice throughout 2009 and 2010,” he says. “I am very pleased that Gibbons was recognized for the quality and quantity of work that we do.”
While at Gibbons, he also created a vibrant cross-borders transaction group to provide corporate and transactional services to international public and private clients seeking to make acquisitions, strategic alliances, joint ventures, or investments in the United States. And in the last year, Gibbons has emerged as the leading New Jersey corporate practice for solar finance projects, and Cannone serves as chair of the firm’s Renewable Energy Finance Team. “Even though Gibbons is an older firm, they maintain an entrepreneurial approach to business,” he explains. “It is one of the keys to our success.”
Despite his busy schedule, Cannone continues to support and maintain his ties to Seton Hall. Not only has he donated to the alumni fund, but he also gives generously of his time as well. Frank currently serves on the Seton Hall Law Board of Visitors. “I am privileged to sit on the board and help with organizational and economic decisions that support the school’s vision,” he says.
Cannone also serves on the Board of Advisors for Seton Hall University’s Stillman School Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. The knowledge and experience he shares with the school and its students is a tremendous asset given Frank’s own entrepreneurial approach to business.
As he prepares for his upcoming 20th class reunion, Cannone offers this advice to Seton Hall Law’s current students. “Don’t be afraid to take chances with your career,” he says. “Not just any chances, but appropriate thoughtful chances that allow you to stay true to your profession and the unique value system that Seton Hall represents.”