In Albany, an aggressive vertical lunge for Farrell Fritz

Northern exposure: Uniondale-based Farrell Fritz has opened a new Albany office, to be staffed by (left to right) attorneys Daniel Rubin and Mark Ustin and lobbyist Vanessa Bongiorno.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

A Long Island law firm has made a bold thrust into the Capital District.

Uniondale-based Farrell Fritz this week announced the launch of its new Regulatory & Government Relations Practice Group, to be located in the firm’s new downtown Albany office – located just a few strides from the State Capitol and state legislative offices.

The new team of key specialists has been assembled specifically to “represent the firm’s clients before the executive and legislative branches of New York State government,” the firm said Tuesday.

The squad – including former Manatt, Phelps & Phillips partner Mark Ustin, non-attorney Government Relations Director Vanessa Bongiorno and associate attorney Daniel Rubin – boasts a collection of regulatory-heavy résumés, including lobbying and litigation experience in areas ranging from healthcare and professional licensure to higher education and public safety.

Farrel Fritz Managing Partner Robert Creighton noted the beginning of an “exciting chapter” for the firm, with the launch of both the new practice group and the upstate satellite office.

“As our firm continues to grow throughout New York, this new practice group, and our Albany office, enable us to add vital areas of representation for our clients and to connect our clients directly with key decision-makers in Albany,” Creighton said in a statement.

Ustin, who was a partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips for six years and with the New York City-based firm for 11 total, brings extensive experience with healthcare providers and payers and related entities, particularly regarding the often-complicated world of statutory requirements and policy landscapes.

Robert Creighton: Right team, right time for Albany push.

The attorney – who has previously served as assistant counsel to the governor for health, mental hygiene and aging, and as deputy director of a state commission focused on restructuring statewide hospital and nursing-home industries – comes full circle with his new gig: Ustin began his career in private practice as a Farrell Fritz associate.

Before officially rejoining the firm, Ustin collaborated with Creighton on the recent affiliation between Mineola’s Winthrop-University Hospital and Manhattan-based NYU Langone Medical Center. Working together again convinced Creighton that the firm’s old associate was the right attorney to anchor the Albany office.

“Through our collaboration on the NYU-Winthrop affiliation, it became clear that the synergy of our existing healthcare practice with Mark’s regulatory and government relations work would bring tremendous value to our clients in the future,” Creighton noted.

“I am thrilled to return to Farrell Fritz, where I first practiced law in the private sector,” Ustin noted. “Farrell Fritz offers a perfect platform for the regulatory and lobbying services Vanessa, Dan and I offer, and we particularly look forward to helping grow the firm’s healthcare practice statewide.”

Bongiorno, formerly of Albany-based government lobbyist Ostroff Associates, has 20 years of experience lobbying state policymakers in the areas of healthcare, mental health, insurance, human services, professional licensure, higher education and public safety.

Rubin, a veteran of Albany law firm Girvin & Ferlazzo P.C., focuses his practice on the healthcare regulatory environment.

In addition to expanding the firm’s existing regulatory capacity and adding new lobbying expertise, the Albany office will “provide a platform for expansion of the firm’s traditional corporate, litigation and other services into the Upstate New York market,” Farrell Fritz said.