In the 1960s Clive Cummis started his own law firm – Schiff Cummis & Kent. The Firm consisted of Cummis, Norman N. Schiff, a labor lawyer and Corporation Counsel of the City of Newark, Arnold R. Kent, a real estate specialist, and Associates Steven Radin and Michael Tischman. In the beginning, they wrote briefs for their lawyer-landlord in lieu of paying rent. After a difference of opinion, Schiff left and the law firm was renamed to Cummis Kent & Radin and then later Cummis Kent Radin & Tischman.
In the early 1970s, two legal giants reached out to Cummis – looking for a change. They were Arthur J. Sills, former Attorney General of New Jersey, and David Beck, a high profile tax attorney. (Interesting fact: Sills and Beck were roommates at Harvard Law School. They were paired together since they were both from New Jersey.) Sills and Beck were drawn to Cummis because he was known as an “outstanding young firm leader.”
Sills Beck Cummis Radin & Tischman was founded in 1971. (Kent did not want to be part of a big firm so he went out on his own.) It is said that Sills and Beck gave the Firm “gray hair” – they were in their 40s. Business grew because of Cummis’ energetic promotion and magnetic personality. After one year in a three-story brownstone residence on 23 Fulton (between McCarter Highway and Broad Street) in Newark, New Jersey, the Firm moved to the 17-story Blue Cross & Blue Shield of New Jersey office building on Washington Street in Newark and took two floors, where it remained until moving to its current location in The Legal Center in 1990.
- “Cross-Pollenization” – Each attorney lends particular talents to the needs of clients
- Enthusiasm Necessary – For the practice of law and the devotion to client causes
- Long Range Goal – Have the best law firm in New Jersey – maybe not the biggest, but the best
The Firm was initially comprised of four broad based practices:
- Litigation (state and federal)
- Real Estate
- Wills & Estates
As we will read in upcoming months, this foundation helped the Firm achieve continued success in the future.