Castner describes calling card as he joins Connell Foley: Work at top levels in government, business

His resume is as diverse and impressive as any lawyer in the state.

There is the work he’s done with the highest levels of all three factions of government (he clerked for a state Supreme Court justice, served two governors and one Assembly speaker), time at one of the state’s largest companies (Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey) and with two of its premier law firms (first Gibbons P.C., and now Connell Foley).

But, when you ask Bill Castner which part will help him most as he takes on a new role as partner at Connell Foley on Monday, he’ll say they all give him an expertise that’s needed in the business world.

“What’s been really interesting throughout my career is gaining an understanding that business interests and government’s interests are inextricably linked,” he told ROI-NJ. “The old quote that government is an invisible partner at every business, for better or worse, is actually true.

“To the degree that government has a recognition of the importance of business as it relates to New Jersey’s economy and vice versa, if business has an appreciation of the role that government plays in in protecting citizens and job growth, that’s when it works. There needs to be a mutual understanding.

“When it’s adversarial, that’s when problems arise. And, hopefully, having a perspective that could bridge business interests with an understanding of where government ordinarily is coming from, hopefully is an advantage to companies to have that perspective.”

Connell Foley Managing Partner Phil McGovern said Castner’s expertise in so many areas will make him a key asset in the firm — especially in South Jersey. Castner lives in Burlington County.

Castner will be a partner and work out of the firm’s Cherry Hill office. He will be in the firm’s Health Care Practice Group, but the firm said will use his expertise in a number of areas. It is expected that he will be asked to provide strategic counsel to senior management and entrepreneurs throughout the region. He will also counsel clients on a wide range of policy issues, including gun issues.

“Bill Castner is an exceptional addition to Connell Foley,” McGovern said. “Bill has operated at the most senior levels of large corporations, health care institutions and government. He is well regarded for his strategic insights and ability to problem solve on behalf of his clients.

Castner most recently served as a senior adviser to Gov. Phil Murphy regarding issues involving firearms, a position he has held, without pay, since May 2018. Castner said he will continue to work on gun issues, but now do so as a member of the private sector.

During Castner’s tenure as senior adviser on firearms policy, Murphy was able to sign into law and advance what he called some of the most progressive gun legislation in the country.

“Bill Castner has been a tremendous asset to my administration,” Murphy said in a release. “I have come to count on Bill’s sensible advice and counsel. Although I’m sad to see him depart his senior adviser role with us, I’m pleased he will continue his work on gun violence prevention at Connell Foley. I know his new firm has gained a very smart and talented public servant.

Gun safety has long been a passion of Castner’s.

McGovern applauded him for it.

“His record of providing sound guidance to Gov. Murphy as senior adviser on firearms policy, as well as his earlier success at both Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey and Gibbons P.C., will make him an invaluable member of our firm, particularly as we continue to grow our Cherry Hill office,” McGovern said.

Being in South Jersey is key. And it represents another aspect of his diverse resume: He’s worked and lived in all parts of the state.

“I grew up in Ocean County, cut my teeth at Gibbons and Horizon in Newark, worked for 10 years in the State House in Trenton and have lived in South Jersey,” he said. “So, I’ve been very fortunate in that respect, to witness (area codes) 973, 201, 609, 856, and hopefully develop some relationships along the way.”

Those relationships will come to play in a number of areas, but Castner’s main focus may be health care.

“Health care is half of the state’s economy,” he said. “And what was really appealing to me about Connell is its continued growth of its health care practice group.”

Castner said that current interest — plus the firm’s rich history — made the move a no-brainer.

“The firm itself is more than 80 years old, has offices in half a dozen cities, two dozen practice groups and 150-plus attorneys,” he said. “And this is the firm of the legendary Gov. and former Chief Justice Richard Hughes.

“There’s just so much amazing history, great lawyers and great people. It’s one of the most reputable firms in the state and, frankly, my direct attraction to the firm was just knowing Phil McGovern and Nevins McCann as I do. They are two extraordinary attorneys, but wonderful human beings. That’s why people love Connell. Great lawyers, great people.”

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