New Jersey Law Journal: Be Ready for Plaintiffs Counsel to File Higher-Caliber Cases, Marie Mathews Warns

Marie Mathews, a lawyer at Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi who represents a range of clients, including pharmaceutical and technology companies, as well as law firms, has something surprising to say about her adversaries: They’re getting better at what they do.

The sophistication and quality of the plaintiffs bar seems to be on the rise—and that has ramifications for defense lawyers, says Mathews, who heads the firm’s litigation practice group.

Mathews, who joined her firm in 2011 after working at Weil, Gotshal & Manges in New York, is also deputy general counsel at Chiesa Shahinian. She has experience with antitrust and intellectual property cases, employment litigation, and represents lawyers in legal malpractice cases. She is a graduate of the Carey Law School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Mathews recently paused to discuss her work, and her answers were edited for news style.

What sort of matters do you generally deal with in your practice?

In my practice, I have represented pharmaceutical, health care, technology, construction and financial services companies, as well as law firms, in a wide array of matters, including antitrust and intellectual property cases, shareholder disputes, restrictive covenant cases and professional malpractice matters.

I also bring extensive experience in navigating complex e-discovery issues. My experience also includes corporate internal investigations involving kickback schemes, commercial bribery and potential antitrust violations.

In addition, I serve as both deputy general counsel to the firm, and co-chair of the firm’s professional liability practice, which defends regional, U.S. and international professional services providers, including law and accounting firms, against claims of malpractice in both state and federal courts, as well as with ethics defense and counseling.

In addition, as the Litigation Practice Group leader, I lead a team of more than 30 litigators with a focus on supporting the team, providing oversight of matters, and identifying opportunities for growth and improved operational metrics for the group.

What are the most significant trends you see developing in litigation right now?

The sophistication and quality of the plaintiffs bar seems to be on the rise.

Although there have always been excellent attorneys on the plaintiffs’ side, the availability of litigation funding and the willingness of big firms who have traditionally focused on defense work to get into the plaintiffs’ game has bolstered the quality of the cases being brought.

The result is that defendants have to be prepared to weather what could be a long and expensive litigation.

Do you have any predictions for litigation trends for the remainder of 2022?

It appears that litigation is making a strong comeback after a bit of a lull during the early part of the pandemic. Combined with the backlog of caseloads pending in the courts already, the increased demand is keeping litigators busy. I would expect this trend to continue over the course of the year.

What are the major threats to your practice right now, and what are you doing to adjust?

Attracting, developing and retaining talented lawyers is a challenge for everyone’s practice right now. We are strengthening and adjusting our professional development efforts to ensure that young lawyers are given the same opportunities to learn from more experienced attorneys, even in a hybrid work environment.

What are some of the biggest obstacles you’ve faced in your career, and how did you handle them?

A career challenge I overcame was moving my practice from New York to New Jersey. I practiced in the Empire State for more than seven years, but eventually, I decided I wanted to move to the Garden State, so I began the process by digging in and getting to know the New Jersey legal market.

During that time, I searched for the firm that was growing and the right fit for me and found Chiesa Shahinian years later. I’m not only a member but in a position of leadership at one of the top firms in New Jersey.

What advice would you give to a first-year associate starting out in your practice area?

My advice would be to find a law firm and a team you enjoy working with. Of course, the quality of the practice and the ability to learn and grow is paramount, but young associates will enhance their ability to learn and grow, as well as improve their quality of life, by working with people they like and enjoy spending time with.

Is there any aspect of your work that is particularly satisfying to you? If yes, how?

What I most enjoy about my career is the ability to get exposure to and collaborate with different types of industries and businesses. In my position, I get to meet a broad range of people and each case yields a new puzzle in need of a solution. As a result of that variety and exposure, you’re able to access the nuts and bolts of some very complex and complicated industries and businesses. I love learning, and the practice of law, if done right, requires that you continue to learn and refine your skills on a daily basis.

Who had the greatest influence in your career that helped propel you to your present role?

My mother. She came to the U.S. from Portugal when she was 9 years old, and went straight into public school without knowing any English. In her 20s, she raised three kids by herself on a shoestring budget. She taught me to be self-reliant, forthright and a hard worker.

Reprinted with permission from the July 5, 2022 issue of the New Jersey Law Journal. © 2022. ALM Media Properties, LLC. Further duplication without permission is prohibited. All rights reserved.

Related Services