Mary Frances Palisano

Mary Frances Palisano

Director, Business & Commercial Litigation

This attorney has been selected for the recognitions mentioned herein, which have been conferred by the corresponding publications and/or organizations noted. An overview of the award selection methodologies for these recognitions can be found at Links to certain specific methodologies are embedded in individual entries. Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances. No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

A tenacious advocate and trusted legal advisor, Ms. Palisano understands how stressful it is for a client to be accused of a crime or for a family whose child has a legal issue. Ms. Palisano is an experienced litigator who focuses her practice on criminal defense, juvenile proceedings, school discipline matters, and special education. Ms. Palisano appreciates what is at stake not only for her clients, but for their families, too, and she has a deep-rooted commitment to working diligently to determine the most effective strategies and appropriate goals in each client’s unique situation.

Ms. Palisano began her legal career handling criminal cases in the trial division of the Legal Aid Society and has been practicing in the area of criminal defense for nearly 20 years. She is a vigorous protector of her clients’ rights, and her clients benefit from her unique, out-of-the-box thinking that comes only from experience. Ms. Palisano’s criminal defense practice includes counseling clients in all phases of criminal proceedings and quasi-criminal matters, including state charges, federal crimes, juvenile proceedings, internal investigations, and municipal court matters.

In the area of child advocacy, Ms. Palisano advocates for children with special needs so that they can obtain the education they need and have a right to receive, providing legal advice related to Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and accommodations, attending meetings with the child study teams, enforcing and revising IEPs, obtaining 504 plans, and handling mediation and due process hearings, among other services. With the right strategies and negotiation, many special education cases can be settled through conferences or mediation, but if needed, Ms. Palisano vigorously defends the rights of her clients through litigation. Ms. Palisano also provides representation when children are threatened with disciplinary action or are victims of students’ behavior.

Areas of Focus

Criminal Defense

Ms. Palisano has extensive experience in a broad range of criminal defense matters in New Jersey and New York, including, but not limited to, state charges, federal crimes, and municipal court offenses. Ms. Palisano has been successful in obtaining dismissals and non-prosecutions for her clients. In some cases, she was able to convince the prosecution not to prosecute the case, in other instances she was able to obtain dismissals or gain her clients entry into the Pretrial Intervention program (PTI), which resulted in dismissal of matters upon the completion of the program.

Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings

Ms. Palisano has extensive experience in a broad range of juvenile matters, including, but not limited to, drug charges, sex crimes, criminal mischief, computer crimes, harassment, and assault. While she vigorously defends clients in juvenile court trials, she also strives for non-prosecution, dismissal, and probation where those resolutions are optimal.

Child Advocacy – Special Education/Discipline

New Jersey laws provide specific rights for children with disabilities. Ms. Palisano provides a full range of services in her advocacy for children with special needs, including legal advice relating to Individual Education Programs (IEP) and accommodations, child study team meetings, IEP enforcement and revision, 504 plans, and mediation. With the right strategies and negotiation, many special education cases can be settled through conferences or mediation, but if needed, Ms. Palisano also vigorously defends the rights of her clients in due process hearings in the Office of Administrative Law. For more information about Ms. Palisano’s Education Law practice, see Child Advocacy.

Pro Bono

As the Chair of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee as well as Pro Bono Coordinator, Ms. Palisano mentors associates, seeks out meaningful pro bono opportunities for the firm’s attorneys, and actively manages nearly 200 cases. Through her work in this area, the firm had a record-setting year in pro bono hours in 2013 and was selected to be a “Hero of Sandy” by Volunteer Lawyers for Justice for Hurricane Sandy related pro bono work. Ms. Palisano was recently chosen by the New Jersey State Bar Association for one of its annual Pro Bono Awards in recognition of her work in the area of pro bono. In addition, she was featured in a recent issue of NJBIZ in an article focusing on the pro bono legal clinics sponsored by Gibbons. In addition to Ms. Palisano’s work as the Gibbons Pro Bono Chair and Pro Bono Coordinator, she personally handles pro bono cases and attends pro bono clinics throughout the year.



Pace University School of Law (J.D.)

University of Hartford (B.A.)

Professional Admissions

State of New Jersey

State of New York

United States District Court for the District of New Jersey

United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

Professional Activities

Supreme Court (NJ) Committee on Model Criminal Jury Charges, 2011-2013, 2013-2015, 2015-2017 terms

Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers of New Jersey
Trustee (2017, 2018)
Co-Chair, Legislative Committee (2015, 2016)

New Jersey State Bar Association
Criminal Law Section (Member and Past Chair)
Continuing Legal Education Advisory Committee
Pro Bono Committee
School Law Committee
Editorial Board, New Jersey Lawyer Magazine

Volunteer Lawyers for Justice

New Jersey Women Lawyers Association

Association of the Federal Bar of New Jersey

National Association of Women Lawyers
Planning Committee member and Co-Chair, Annual Meeting Program Book Committee (2012, 2013)

Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc.

New Jersey Special Education Practitioners (NJSEP)

Civic/Charitable Activities

Ms. Palisano handles numerous pro bono cases throughout the year, including cases involving victims of domestic violence, children with special needs, and expungement matters. Ms. Palisano also participates in internship programs where she speaks to high school students about the legal profession, pro bono work, and her practice areas.