Familiar faces: For retired N.J. Justice Timpone, new job at boutique Newark law firm is chance to reconnect

Former New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Walter F. Timpone has joined the Calcagni & Kanefsky law firm. (Calcagni & Kanefsky)

Why did Walter F. Timpone choose to land at boutique law firm Calcagni & Kanefsky after stepping down as an associate justice with the New Jersey Supreme Court?

That’s easy, he said: “It’s like getting the band back together.”

Timpone and a co-founder of the firm, Thomas R. Calcagni, go back many years, including side-by-side early lawyer roles at McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter LLP. Same goes for firm partner Walter R. Krzastek. Another firm leader, Ralph J. Marra Jr., he’s known since one of his first jobs — at the office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey in the mid-’80s.

Marra’s wife helped Timpone find his house. Timpone is a godparent to his three kids.

“It’s going to be a joy working with all these people again,” said Timpone, who is joining the Newark-based Calcagni & Kanefsky as senior counsel.

The Seton Hall Law School alumnus is joining the familiar cast of former federal and state litigators in private practice after a storied career, one that included posts at the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission and a four-year stint on the state’s highest court.

Timpone, a Democrat, was appointed to the New Jersey Supreme Court by former Republican Gov. Chris Christie in 2016. During his time as a member of the court, he wrote 30 majority opinions and was involved in decisions on several high-profile cases.

Timpone resigned just two months ahead of the court’s mandatory retirement date. Gov. Phil Murphy selected Fabiana Pierre-Louis, a former assistant U.S. attorney, as Timpone’s replacement.

“The court was an unbelievable experience for me, but it’s also very monastic,” Timpone said. “I didn’t see a weekend in four and a half years.”

Given that, Timpone said he was “enticed” by the prospect of returning to the daily routine of a private-practice lawyer working with colleagues to come up with solutions and theories on how to best defend clients.

The former partner at McElroy, Deutsch realizes he’s reentering private practice in time of immense change for the profession. The pandemic has forced lawyers into adapting to video-conferencing tools and other digital options to conduct most of their once in-person work.

“We all want to get back to showing up in court, but I think for the most part the (Supreme Court) fell into the virtual systems pretty easily,” he said. “There’s been a lot of change, and we’re getting much more tech-oriented. But none of that is a negative.”

Despite the reliance on remote communications, Timpone is looking forward to connecting with younger lawyers and instilling some of the lessons he said he would have benefited from himself early on. Clear and concise writing is high on the list.

“I really like working with younger lawyers, and I’ll be mentoring them to the extent that I can,” he said. “I think that stuff keeps me feeling young and active.”

If nothing else, that’ll be important to the career ahead of Timpone. Because, while he might be retiring from one role, he’s not at all ready to call it quits.

“I don’t see retirement coming anytime soon,” he said.