Frank Giantomasi’s path ossified early on. Giantomasi, a member of law firm Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi’s Real Estate, Development and Land Use Practice, decided on his path as a pre-pubescent boy in Newark, New Jersey.
“If you look at my eighth grade school work, you’d see that I wanted to be a lawyer back then,” he said.
Gianntomasi, now a sextagenerian, says that the idea wasn’t completely his own. His career choice was partly sold to him by his late father, a municipal employee who admired the profession from afar.
“My father thought it was the greatest profession. He was a man with an eighth-grade education. He would constantly talk to me, like: ‘You know, you should get a law degree. You could go into business, you could go into banking, you could go into insurance (or) you could go into real estate.’ He though it was very flexible. I was raised with the indication that that was the right way to go,” he said.
While many young people pushed into lucrative professions end up rebelling and going to art school, Giantomasi was grateful for his father’s career advice. He acted on the marching orders by simultaneously working as an educator and studying law. Oddly, this almost set him on a different career path.
“When I graduated college, I had an education degree and I was a substitute teacher. I worked my way through law school. I didn’t know at that time whether I wanted to be a teacher or a lawyer,” he said.
Eventually, he chose law. Over his 37 years in the profession, he has moved in and out of government work and private practice. He has also carved a reputation as a top real estate attorney, working on large deals such as the development of Panasonic Corporation’s headquarters at Two Riverfront Plaza in Newark.
He is also working on the potential sale of a 5.2-acre development site on the Ironbound District of Newark. The location, which contains the famed Iberia restaurant, may soon house an office or residential development.
He started out as a law clerk for a judge in Essex County. By 1983, four years after becoming a member of the bar, he established his own firm, Giantomasi & Oliviera.
“We were a boutique firm. We just did real estate and we really just did Newark. We really didn’t venture out,” he said. “Then came a point in time when my client opportunities were just growing and I needed a more diversified platform to service my clients. That was the decision I made to end what was Giantomasi and Oliviera. It didn’t have multi-dimensional abilities to satisfy all my clients’ needs. And my clients’ projects were growing. I needed more staff, more lawyers. I merged with another firm (which became Genova Burns Giantomasi Webster) and we grew that firm from about 40 lawyers to about 85 lawyers in four and a half years,” he said.
He joined CSG (formerly Wolff & Samson) in late 2014. The job has become a family affair. Frank’s offspring, son Francis and daughter Gemma, migrated to CSG with him. His former partner, Michael Oliveira, also works at the same firm.
Nonetheless, the job has required an adjustment. Giantomasi spent two decades running his own firm. That has left vestiges of omnipotence that must now be suppressed.
“I also enjoy the camaraderie and the collective decision-making process. I tend to think I’m a consensus builder. I also think that helps me be a good partner. I miss being the one and only sometimes. There are benefits and detriments there. It’s lonely being alone,” he said. Giantomasi oprates between CSG’s New Jersey and 11 Times Square offices, where the copmany opened last year to establish a foothold on the city as it looked to capitalize on its network of relationships in the city and the day-to-day New York-based activity of many firm members.
“The opening of this new Manhattan office was an important milestone in our firm’s history,” said Giantomasi.
The company currently has 140 lawyers having most recently welcomed five members and a counsel to its team.
It’s continuing to recruit as part of a strategic plan to expand its reach while bolstering its existing strength in the areas of real estate, corporate transactions, commercial litigation, private equity and trusts and estates.