From The Island Now:
BY BILL SAN ANTONIO
Brad Gerstman, a founding partner of Gerstman Schwartz & Malito, LLP, can pinpoint the exact moment in his legal career when he realized the law wasn’t the only resource he had to represent a client.
It was while he was still working within the Bronx district attorney’s office, the East Hills resident said from his new Garden City office on Friday, representing a woman who was being kicked out of her housing project.
“The judge told me, you’re not making a legal argument, you’re making a policy argument,” Gerstman said. “Out of court, he told me to take it to the press, and I did, and all of a sudden I have all these politicians and agencies calling me up to help this woman out.”
“I realized to solve matters for my clients, the legal system was not always the best way to go about it,” Gerstman said. “You sometimes have to find other alternatives.”
That moment, he said, can be connected to the day six years ago when he and fellow Roslyn resident David Schwartz first opened Gotham Government Relations & Communications, a lobbying firm that has since expanded to two other locations in Manhattan and Albany.
Gerstman said Gotham’s locations are “at all the key touch points in New York” – near City Hall, the state Capitol and just up the road on Franklin Avenue from the Nassau County Legislature in Mineola – ready to advocate for its candidates, whoever they may be.
“When people think of what a lobbyist does, they tend to think of the old smoke-filled rooms, the whole ‘I whisper in your ear, the legislation changes and good things happen.’ Nothing is that way anymore,” Gerstman said.
“Things are much bigger and broader now. Everything is a campaign,” he added. “It’s about discussing the issues with the people who make decisions, helping the press get what they need, educating the public. That’s the way it should be.”
Schwartz, the former president of Temple Sinai of Roslyn Heights, said in a statement that the company utilizes an “organic approach” to lobbying, combining legal research, grassroots political tactics and a variety of social media platforms to prepare campaigns that can reach the public and inspire change.
“We truly put the client first and we leave no stone unturned in accomplishing their goals,” Schwartz said. “We bring an aggressive form of advocacy to every case and every client. Our clients appreciate the work we do for them because they know we give 110 percent on every issue.”
Gotham has built campaigns around political candidates like Kevan Abrahams, John Catsimatidis and Eliot Spitzer, among others, as well as for coalitions of local businesses, schools and real estate developers in need of representation.
But the firm, Gerstman said, neither plays partisan politics nor maintains a specialty in the legal world.
“The best pieces of legislation that get enacted are the ones that are the most litigated, because it means you’re getting a lot of committees involved and government agencies to talk about the issues,” Gerstman said. “When they come together, the most information is shared. Every word is picked through.”
In early August, the former GerstmanSchwartz, LLP expanded by taking on Bob Malito, founding partner at Davidoff Malito & Hutcher LLP, as a new partner and brought on Diane Cahill as Gotham’s vice president of government relations. Cahill on Monday was named to Long Island Business News’ list of the 50 most influential women in business.
The company on Aug. 9 also relocated from its Roslyn office on Northern Boulevard to Garden City, a space Gerstman said is three times the size of Gotham’s former Long Island headquarters and could better accommodate future staff expansion.
“We’re a client-centric firm and we love a good fight. You push us and we’ll throw Molotov cocktails at you,” Gerstman said. “We’re willing to go against the biggest, the baddest and the best along the way to achieve the goals of our clients. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
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