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

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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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29 Comments

Anonymous

Contrast this guy with Che Guevara, a doctor versus a lawyer. Guevara sees military action too, he sees the influence of American business internationally (in South America and Cuba, at the United Nations) too, he has a professional skill (medicine v law), but he wants to improve society with zeal because with all that experience and vision, he can clearly see how change could be made and how it could be for the so much better.
This guy wants to earn a middle class living through it all. He will fly military aircraft and photograph poverty – but is it the case that they are just middle class hobbies, and not the preamble to living and acting for a better vision ?

Age 81 or so he decides that he wants to work for Skadden.

It is a shame that this man is the technicolour example of what we are all becoming, and that Che Guevara,- even though his vision is better – is a character of a kind that society is not capable of repeating.

The American CIA, possibly a client of a law firm like Skaddens, killed Che, of course, as he was a threat to the financial and national security of the American middle class.

The Revolutionary is motivated by love…the middle class by money and personal or family interest, whatever the circumstances and however broad the experience of the beholder. The latter is so entrenched that it will suffocate and then kill the former.

(4)(61)

Anonymous

Che Guevra was douchebag.

(38)(6)

Glass half-full

Yeah, on the flip side, Bentley could live to 200 years and he still wouldn’t have as many posters of him up in teenagers’ bedrooms 🙂

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Comrade, your fellow Corbynistas see you as a class traitor for reading this instead of the Socialist Worker. Now go and peel 50 potatoes with your fingernails as punishment. Only then will you understand the struggles of the proletariat. And no manicures afterwards you capitalist pigdog.

(17)(0)

Anonymous

Jeremy Corbyn is leagues beneath Che Guevara as a man and we are not comrades, unfortunately. It is too strong a word. Try enemy, instead of comrade 🙂

(1)(5)

Anonymous

You sound very bitter. This man is an American hero, you seem to be going nowhere and I feel sorry for you!!!!

(1)(0)

Anonymous

I’m not a workaholic, but the idea of retiring at 60 and not doing any work at all isn’t very appealing.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

He must have access to the new life extending drugs that Soros, Rockefeller, Thiel and others use. They also undergo regular blood transfusions with juvenile blood, which has been shown to regenerate cells and stop ageing.

What kind of a world we live in where rich people can live to 100 I don’t know

(4)(3)

Anonymous

The point about life extending drugs, this is a joke right ?

I ask because Rockefeller and Kissinger are both unusually old, so I am concerned it may be serious.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

It’s totally serious. These drugs are real and not routinely prescribed. Peter Thiel wants to live forever. Rockefeller is in his second century. A 100 year lifespan for wealthy Western citizens as a matter of routine is completely possible.

The blood transfusions thing is also true – the untrue part of the Internet rumours is that child sacrifice is used to obtain the blood. Peter Thiel has gone public about his use of them.

(2)(3)

This smells like bollocks

Any references to any double blind clinical trials showing significant effects?

(0)(0)

Dr NSA

This comments reeks of Alex Jones, InfoWars and Breitshart News for miles.

Better adjust that tin-foil hat buddy, they’re coming for you!!!

(7)(0)

Anonymous

No he has a very loving wife, wonderful friends and a very curious mind. He does not take any pills.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

No drugs, just a very positive outlook.

(0)(0)

Not Amused

Maybe we could just give up this whole idea of retirement. Slim down our working days (so we need to employ more people) and possibly only work 4 or 3 days a week.

But never retire.

That way we can get rid of pensions and use part of the saved money to care for those who physically cannot work. With healthcare and life expectancy where it is, people who retire in their 50s and 60s are the modern equivalent of Bertie Wooster – the indolent rich.

(13)(2)

SingaporeSwing

Bollocks. Many people who retire at 60 on defined benefit pensions will not be graduates and will have been working full time since 16 or before. They deserve it. They are not indolent.

You talk a lot of sh1t on this website.

(6)(4)

Glass half-full

At least Bertie employed a valet, giving much needed jobs to the no-so-privileged.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Oh look at that, Not Amused thinks retirement should be abolished and pensions should not exist. I am so surprised that you have that view. What’s next? Should we ban all solid foods and have everyone ingest liquid through a tube in order to promote social mobility in the legal profession?

(4)(0)

Anonymous

He’s a lawyer, not a solicitor KK.

(9)(0)

Bumblebee

That’s not the only mistake.

-Use of ‘bigshot’ instead of ‘top’.
– Incorrect use of the word ‘centuriate’.
– ’35 years experience’ instead of ’35 years’ experience’.
– Unnecessary comma between ‘World War II’ and ‘under’.
– Use of a comma instead of a dash between ‘oppression’ and ‘photos’.

– On the other hand, the segue way to details about Skadden’s TC scheme conformed nicely to LC’s house style.

Overall, B-. Not bad, but room for improvement.

(12)(4)

Bumblebee

FYI, ‘segue way’ is how dickhead internet grammar pedants with no friends spell ‘segue’

(17)(0)

Anonymous

The idea of still being a lawyer at 100 is enough to make me want to shoot myself at 45.

(7)(2)

Anonymous

There sure are some weird comments on this article.

(8)(0)

Anonymous

Imagine going through the horror of WWII…then having to become a lawyer afterwards.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

KK going for the low blow, insulting an old man for not working the same hours as a trainee.

(7)(1)

Proper counsel

He is not counsel – he’s not a barrister

(0)(2)

An attorney

Agreed. On this side of the Pond (the West side) we call them attorneys, not lawyers, solicitors, barristers or counsel.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Surely this photo of him is at least 2.5 decades old??? 100-year old lawyer still working at his firm; the scary senior partner from the Coen Brothers’ ‘Intolerable Cruelty’ springs to mind

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zz-mpgYNUW8

(1)(1)

Comments are closed.