Early this year a Newark-based law firm, Sills Cummis, began to contemplate recruiting top lawyers from larger firms. What they found: Attorneys working in Princeton did not want to commute to Newark.

So Sills Cummis decided to open a second office in Princeton.

Meanwhile, just last month, a national firm with offices in both Newark and Princeton, Reed Smith, met the challenge of recruiting to Newark in a different way. Reed Smith says it will close its Newark office and transfer the attorneys to existing offices in either Manhattan or Princeton Forrestal Village (U.S. 1, October 4).

Score so far: Princeton 2, Newark O.

Wednesday, November 1, is the formal opening for the 20,000 square-foot Sills Cummis office at 650 College Road. It took one wing of the top floor, subleasing half of the space formerly occupied by Hale & Dorr.

Among the attorneys there will be some of Reed Smith’s heavy hitters, including Paul H. Shur, now chair of the Sills Cummis banking and finance practice group, best known for representing national and regional banks on large lending matters. Also leaving Reed Smith’s Forrestal Village office and moving down College Road to the Forrestal Center are three attorneys who are ‘of counsel’: Scott C. Pyfer, James A. Dempsey, and Charles N. Panzer.

Five Newark-based Sills partners will spend significant time in Princeton. Max Crane, a corporate attorney, and Ted Zangari, a land use and real estate specialist, will split their time between Princeton and Newark. Ensconced full-time on College Road will be three partners: Thomas Jay Hall, Kevin J. Moore, and Brian S. Coven. (Moore and Hall live in the area.) Robert Kasuba, an associate, will also work in Princeton.

“We were targeting good lawyers who would complement our existing strong practice areas,” says Crane, deputy managing partner of Sills Cummis. Princeton-area commerce is largely in the same areas in which Sills is strong: banking, health care, hospital, and biotech/life sciences.

Crane also aims to attract attorneys who, lured by a national firm’s promises of big-name clients, find that their New Jersey offices are being left out of the action.

Sills Cummis was founded in 1971 by Arthur Sill, who was attorney general under Governor Hughes, and Clive Cummis, a prominent statewide lawyer. It stayed in Newark, says Crane, on the theory that the best way for lawyers to interact with each other was in a central office. At one point, when casino gambling came into the state, it had an office in Atlantic City.

Crane, who was president of his student government in high school in Fair Lawn, says he always knew he was interested in law, “but I didn’t have time for politics.” His father, an immigrant from Poland, worked in a textile factory. He graduated in 1973 from the University of Pennsylvania and went to Rutgers/Camden law school. He and his wife, an attorney with a practice in Montclair, have two daughters, and one of them is in law school.

As a corporate attorney Crane concentrates on mergers and acquisitions and finance. Hostile proxy contests, especially for Computer Horizons, have been his focus for the past couple of years.

Crane says that another half-dozen attorneys will join the Princeton office by the end of this year, and that in 2007 he plans to staff up to 30 attorneys.

Sills Cummis, 650 College Road East, Princeton 08540; 609-227-4600; fax, 609-

227-4646. Max Crane. www.sillscummis.com

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