Skadden lawyer who fought in World War II celebrates his 100th birthday

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By Katie King on

Top commercial counsel still works from 9.30am to 4.30pm and has no intention of retiring

A solicitor at bigshot US outfit Skadden has celebrated his 100th birthday this week, making him the oldest lawyer at the commercial giant.

Turning 100 yesterday, Bentley Kassal celebrated his centuriate by eating a custom-made cake in the Harvard Club, Manhattan, surrounded by 75 of his friends and colleagues. The, um, interesting cake depicts his face on an infant body with the words “You’ve come a long way baby!” iced underneath.

Image via Barbara Kassal

Aside from the kind of creepy cake, Kassal’s birthday was a chance to celebrate his life and career.

With 35 years experience as a judge, plus a stint in the US Army Air Forces during World War II, under his belt, Kassal joined Skadden’s commercial coalface in 1998 as counsel to its New York City litigation team. The Harvard graduate has also travelled the world to take photos of war and oppression, photos he has then donated to human rights charities including Save the Children, Human Rights Watch and UNICEF.

A colourful career, but Kassal has no intention of scaling back. Putting us (stereotypically lazy) millennials to shame, Kassal told Bloomberg he is at the firm “every morning by 9.30am”, and works “a full day to 4.30pm”. Though these hours don’t quite stack up against those worked on average by trainees and junior lawyers — research by Legal Cheek shows that at some firms 12-hour days are not uncommon — Kassal is still enjoying “every bit of it”. He continued:

[E]very day I get a new challenge, and I like being challenged.

While he attributes his long life to loving his job, his wife and staying physically active, it’s nice to see he can still have some back and forth with his law pals. John Gardiner, who chairs Skadden’s international arbitration and litigation team, joked:

Apart from Kim Kardashian, [Kassal] is the most Googled name on the internet, and that’s because he keeps Googling himself.

With 22 offices in 13 countries, including in the United Kingdom, Skadden is one of the largest firms on the globe. London trainees can expect to earn £45,000 in their first year, £50,000 in their second, and a whopping £118,000 on qualification.

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