Here’s the thing about the new Roseland headquarters for Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi P.C.
The one with the 40-foot all-glass wall that greets as you enter the ultraimpressive half-circle lobby.
The one with a first floor filled with plenty of comfy open spaces and private meeting rooms designed for every type of client conversation.
The one with four floors and 116,000 square feet of office and communal space, where every one of the more than 190 lawyers and 350 employees who work there essentially is treated equally. (There are no corner offices.)
The one with high-tech attributes and accessories that would be the envy of any top tech company. (Every call can be a Zoom call that appears to be a conference room meeting.)
The one with more light coming in than you could ask for — and a view of the woods going out that you won’t find in an urban setting.
The one that already has attorneys at other firms calling their friends here and asking, “Is it really as cool as it sounds?”
Simply put, it’s the law office that doesn’t actually look like a law office. And it certainly didn’t when Frank Giantomasi drove fellow executive committee member Matt Beck to come look at it for the first time.
“Matt wouldn’t get out of the car,” Giantomasi said. “He said, ‘No way are we moving here.’”
Beck had good reason. A former federal prosecutor, he said the big grey building at the end of Eisenhower Parkway looked more like a prison than what it was — the former headquarters of Arthur Andersen, a firm name that will indicate to many just how long it had been since the building had been occupied.
The leaders at CSG saw it differently. And, after a $30 million renovation courtesy of SJP Properties and Gensler, they were ready to show it off.
Monday night, before a few hundred employees, clients, government officials and dignitaries, CSG cut the ribbon on an office of the future that it feels is built for today’s world.
“I think this is reflective of where the firm is now,” Managing Member Patricia Costello said. “It’s big, it’s bright. It’s collaborative.
“It works well for our clients, and it works well for our lawyers.”
Lawyers who now are eager to work from an office again, she said. That helps more than people realize, Costello said.
“We’re back to where we can walk through the office and see someone and ask them that question that’s been in the back of your mind,” she said. “It’s really amazing.”
Others might be amazed that even the youngest associates — the ones who supposedly refuse to work in an office — are eager to be there. Costello said that’s a misconception.
“You have to remember, they spent three years in law school, stuck in their rooms,” she said. “I think they are eager to get out and talk to people.”
Especially at an office like this. Yes, there is a pingpong table, but the machine that makes specialized coffee drinks and the double fridges that have plenty of space for lunches (and every type of soy and almond milk you could imagine) may be a bigger selling point.
Or maybe it’s the cafeteria — the one that comes with a to-go market.
“We made them put it in,” Giantomasi said. “It’s there so that people can come work, and don’t have to go to the store on the way home.
“You can leave here with a dozen frozen ravioli, vodka sauce and spumoni.”
Dana Nalbantian, principal and studio director at Gensler, said the firm was eager to take a creative approach.
“This is not your traditional law firm office, in many ways,” she said. “We had an incredibly collaborative partnership with CSG Law to create a future and forward-thinking headquarters for one of New Jersey’s premier firms. We’re so grateful CSG entrusted us with the journey of envisioning and designing their workplace.”
A new-age workplace.
And, here’s the thing: If you think this new-age office is built for today’s workforce, you’re a little off.
Giantomasi said he loves explaining that to the senior partners who are still struggling a bit to get over the dark wood finishings that have been left behind.
“I keep saying this, and I’m sticking with it: We did not build this office for me, nor any of my present partners,” he said.
“This lease is 16 years. We built this office for future lawyers who haven’t even gone to law school yet. That’s why we went with sustainable materials. That’s why we went with modern design.”
Some still don’t get it, Giantomasi said.
“I still have partners that say to me, ‘It’s not really a conventional law firm office,’” he said. “I respond, ‘It’s the conventional law firm office of the future.’”