Cohen & Grigsby Provides Clients with Government Access, Visibility Through Launch of New Public Affairs Practice
Two Professionals with Significant Experience in State and Federal Government Joining the Firm
PITTSBURGH, PA – January 17, 2011 – Cohen & Grigsby, a business law firm with headquarters in Pittsburgh, PA and an office in Bonita Springs, FL, is augmenting the services it can provide to both current and prospective clients with the establishment of Cohen & Grigsby Public Affairs, a newly formed division of the firm.
“For the first time in decades, state legislators with strong ties to western Pennsylvania now serve as heads of three of the four legislative caucuses for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Commonwealth’s new governor also hails from the greater Pittsburgh area,” said Jack Elliott, president and CEO of Cohen & Grigsby. “The professionals we have assembled to manage Cohen & Grigsby Public Affairs have the experience and the access that can make a difference – on the floor of the legislature, at the agency level, and in a grass roots context. These specialists can also provide our clients with the ability to understand the inner workings of government and how it might affect their operations and their bottom line.”
Clifford B. Levine, director and attorney at Cohen & Grigsby, will serve as practice group head. Levine has considerable experience dealing with governmental entities in both a legal and political capacity and was recently named one of the 100 most politically influential individuals in Pennsylvania. He is an experienced trial and appellate lawyer that has made more than 50 appearances before the Pennsylvania Commonwealth and Supreme courts, which handle legal disputes involving governmental agencies. Levine recently served as chair of President Barack Obama’s Western Pennsylvania Steering Committee and is currently a member of the President’s National Advisory Board. Levine also served as statewide election law counsel to the Bob Casey for Senate campaign in 2006. A member of the Allegheny County Academy of Trial Lawyers, Levine has been recognized in Best Lawyers in America and as a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer, which identifies the top five percent of lawyers in the state.
Joining Levine are two highly experienced public affairs professionals from western Pennsylvania with strong ties to several current and former elected officials:
Robert A. Vescio, principal of Cohen & Grigsby Public Affairs, has served in high-profile positions in state and local government, where he has shaped public policy and legislation that has had an impact on a broad array of constituencies. As director of legislative affairs for former Allegheny County Chief Executive Jim Roddey, Vescio created and managed Allegheny County’s state and federal legislative agenda and served as Mr. Roddey’s chief liaison with Allegheny County Council. Vescio also served as chief of staff to Pennsylvania State Representative Tom Stevenson and as legislative specialist to former Pennsylvania State Senator Tim Murphy, who now represents the state’s 18th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. As a lobbyist, Vescio has successfully helped an array of clients execute their legislative priorities. Working on behalf of a Fortune 500 company, he partnered with a statewide business coalition to address concerns about the expansion of a sales tax on businesses that perform management and consulting services, thereby enabling the client to save $8 million in additional taxes. Vescio also worked with legislators to create the sheltered bond program to help qualified contractors secure the required capacity to work on job sites. In addition, he worked with an equine coalition to preserve a $100 million state fund dedicated to the industry. Vescio most recently served as director of Pennsylvania government affairs at a Pittsburgh-area consulting firm. Prior to that, he served as chair of the government relations practice group at a Pittsburgh-area law firm. Vescio received a Master of Public Policy and Management from the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology from Mercyhurst College.
Nello Giorgetti, also a principal of Cohen & Grigsby Public Affairs, brings more than 30 years of experience in public affairs and government relations to Cohen & Grigsby Public Affairs. Giorgetti’s experience cuts across all levels of government. He has worked for the mayor’s office for the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, the State Senate of Pennsylvania and the United States Congress. He previously served as chief of staff to Pennsylvania State Senator Jay Costa, now the Democratic leader of the Senate of Pennsylvania. Giorgetti’s portfolio of successes include the acquisition of a new multi-purpose arena for the Pittsburgh Penguins; the establishment of a dedicated funding stream for the Pittsburgh Symphony; and, working on behalf of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, the creation of landmark energy acquisition legislation in Pennsylvania. Giorgetti most recently served as senior government affairs manager for Pennsylvania government affairs at a Pittsburgh-area lobbying firm. Prior to that, Giorgetti worked as a lobbyist for a Harrisburg-area firm. Giorgetti received a J.D. from Duquesne University’s School of Law and a B.A. in English Writing from the University of Pittsburgh.
“Cohen & Grigsby Public Affairs will provide our clients with an exceptional team of professionals to assist in the development and implementation of government relations strategies,” Elliott added. “Cliff, Rob, Nello and the other members of the group will be able to provide insight, analysis and strategy on a host of key fronts. This includes addressing potential legislation or new regulations, navigating through a complex governmental bureaucracy, or making a compelling case for funding or assistance. Taken together, their contacts and their extensive backgrounds will bring considerable resources to bear for our clients.”