Q&A with the Wilmington Office
Our marketing department recently sat down with the partners in our Wilmington office, including its new addition, Cheryl Santaniello.
Q: Tell us a little about Cohen Seglias in Wilmington.
A: Ed — We opened the office in 2003, primarily to serve our construction clients in Delaware. With the additions of Bob Beste and Jim Harker, we expanded our services to include general commercial litigation including partnership litigation, real estate, corporate, and commercial transactions. With the addition of partner Cheryl Santaniello, we now have four full-time attorneys and two staff members in the office.
Q: What services do you provide our clients?
A: Ed — In addition to the commercial litigation and transactional practices Jim and Bob focus on, associate Scott Earle supports the Firm’s Construction Group and serves our contractor clients working on projects in Delaware. With Cheryl joining the office, we are strengthening our real estate and commercial transactions groups. She brings substantial expertise in real estate and commercial lending and is handling matters for us in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Cheryl also brings relationships with lenders and commercial real estate developers and we look forward to establishing a mutually beneficial relationship between Cheryl’s contacts, the Firm, and our clients.
A: Cheryl — I have a broad business transactional practice focused on commercial real estate, financing and construction. I review and negotiate complex ground, shopping center, and office leases for clients with local, regional and national footprints. I also assist clients with corporate and asset purchases and sales, entity formation and corporate governance matters and have extensive experience negotiating commercial contracts and vendor agreements.
A: Jim — While I do a lot of things for many clients, my primary focus has been on transactional commercial real estate, financing legal opinions involving Delaware entities for properties throughout the United States, and the resolution of real estate title issues, claims, and land use. I also help clients resolve multiple business and contract issues that arise in day-to-day business practices. I have litigation experience in all courts in Delaware and I represent several international companies in the defense of asbestos tort liability.
A: Bob — I have a broad background in real estate, landlord/tenant, construction, insurance claims, and personal injury. However, my most significant work at present is in two areas: 1) representation of over 20 nursing and rehabilitation centers in construction, collection and fraudulent transfer claims and guardianships; and 2) representation of a major national title insurance company in title remediation claims.
Q: Cheryl, tell us about how you got started in your career.
A: Cheryl — I started out at a small firm of approximately ten attorneys in Haddonfield, New Jersey and learned the old fashioned way — trial by fire. Early on I had the opportunity of handling a wide variety of cases. In fact, within a month of arriving, half of the attorneys left and started another firm, and I found myself in the role of lead counsel on cases pending in bankruptcy and state court, taking over pending land use and development files, as well as prosecuting over 300 casino collection matters. From there I went in-house with a regional engineering equipment sales and leasing company where I also held the position of controller. In 2005, after spending seven years in-house, I went back to private practice at a large Philadelphia firm and came to Delaware a few years later.
Q: What do you enjoy the most about your practice?
A: Bob — The part of my practice I most enjoy is the opportunity to deal with people on a personal level. I also enjoy the opportunity to get out of the office into the courtroom and cross-examine witnesses who think they know everything.
A: Jim — I fashion myself as a problem solver, a person that overcomes obstacles rather than creates them. Finding a unique solution tailored to a client’s problem is most rewarding. I enjoy protecting the client’s interest in a purchase or financing of a commercial property for a fair and reasonable fee. The most satisfying thing for me is a referral from a client who is pleased by the outcome that I assisted in obtaining. (Also getting a complete dismissal of an asbestos case without payment by my client is a pure joy.)
Q: Why did you decide to join Cohen Seglias?
A: Cheryl — I was attracted by the entrepreneurial spirit of the Firm and its partners. I am excited to be a part of growing the Delaware branch office and taking it to the next level.
Q: What is the future outlook of the Delaware office?
A: Ed — We will continue to expand the Wilmington office to include additional complementary practices such as Labor & Employment. We will also continue to enhance the services we provide in Business Transactions and Real Estate.