The Honorable Christopher S. Porrino ‘92 to Receive the Public Servant Award at 2017 Alumni Gala
Seton Hall Law is pleased to announce that The Honorable Christopher S. Porrino ‘92, Attorney General of New Jersey, will receive the schools’ Public Servant Award at the 2017 Alumni Gala to be held on May 12 at The Grove.
Nominated by Governor Chris Christie ’87, Porrino was unanimously confirmed by the Senate on August 1, 2016, as New Jersey’s 60th Attorney General.
He has worked to safeguard the interests of New Jersey’s citizens by advancing regulatory reform and other initiatives to combat the opiate epidemic, fighting against corruption in government, strengthening police-community relations, devising a first in the nation “Safe Care Cam” surveillance program to protect the elderly from abusive care-givers, and by aggressively pursuing those who exploit children.
Throughout his career in public service -- which includes prior tenures as Chief Counsel to Governor Christie and as Director of the Division of Law within the Attorney General’s Office -- Porrino has earned a bi-partisan reputation as a tough, brilliant lawyer and strategist, but also as a straight shooter and man of integrity.
Originally an aspiring physician, Porrino shifted gears while in college and took up a friend’s suggestion to try his hand at law. He never looked back.
“I took the LSAT, applied to law school, and got lucky because law ended up being something I love doing,” Porrino said. “Seton Hall Law wasn’t just an environment that focused on the technical and philosophical aspects of the law. It focused on the practical as well. And being a practical problem solver has enriched my career immensely, both in private practice and during my time in public service.”
Porrino welcomes any opportunity to counsel new lawyers. Invoking his own path, the Attorney General advises young attorneys and law students not to fear – but rather embrace – any “off balance” feeling they may be experiencing.
“Most days, even up to and including today, I feel off balance for at least part of what I do,” Porrino said. “That’s normal. Anyone who feels like they have it all figured out -- anyone who isn’t at least a little bit anxious about what’s coming next -- isn’t like the rest of us. My advice to young lawyers is that it’s OK to feel uncertain and unsure. It will motivate you work hard so that you can get back to feeling balanced.”
Porrino also counsels young law students and attorneys not to stress too much about specializing early on in their legal careers.
They are better served, he said, to focus “like a laser beam” on three critical concerns: Building a stellar reputation, leading by being a “doer”, and persevering when times get tough.
As a young lawyer, Porrino represented his parents in a complex legal battle against a large multi-national conglomerate which, his parents claimed, had infringed their Constitutional rights.
Porrino toiled nights and weekends in service of his parents’ legal fight -- against multiple law firms, local government, and insurance companies. It ultimately settled.
“We persevered and obtained a measure of justice,” he said. “Litigating that case on behalf of my parents required me to reach down deeper than I ever had. I still think back to that experience and use it as fuel. I use it as nutrition to pick myself up. It is a reminder to me of the value of perseverance.
Porrino said the experience also reminds him that cases “are not won just in the courtroom.”
“Cases are won at two o’clock in the morning at the kitchen table,” he said. “They’re won in the shower. They’re won in the car ride to the office. They’re won with the idea that wakes you in the middle of the night. They’re won by lawyers who think harder about their matters and try harder than their adversary.”
As many who know him can attest, Porrino is humble and kind, and views his tenure as Attorney General as an opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives.
“It’s a privilege to be in a position to help improve public safety in our state, to help improve the quality of life for millions of New Jersey residents, and to work with so many talented people who are just as passionate about helping others,” he said.
After graduating from Seton Hall, General Porrino served as a law clerk to then-Magistrate Judge Freda L. Wolfson, now U.S. District Judge for the District of New Jersey. From January 2014 through July 2015, Porrino served as Chief Counsel to Governor Chris Christie. Before that, Porrino served as Director of the Division of Law in the Attorney General's Office from February 2012 to January 2014, where he oversaw a team of 500 lawyers. Prior to his government service, from 2004 until 2012, Porrino was a trial lawyer and vice-chair of Lowenstein Sandler's litigation department. During his tenure at Lowenstein Sandler, Porrino represented clients in a wide array of civil and criminal matters involving securities, banking, insurance, tax, antitrust, real estate and the environment, among others. Immediately before becoming Attorney General, Porrino returned to Lowenstein to lead the firm’s national litigation practice.
Forever grateful to his family, General Porrino acknowledges that his position is in large measure due to the support and patience of his wife, Christina Shenouda ’93, whom he met at Seton Hall. He and Christina have two sons, Max and Peter.