Seward & Kissel celebrates 125th anniversary

(NEW YORK) — Seward & Kissel commemorated its 125th anniversary of continuous operation as a law firm with an event Tuesday at which public officials, bar association leaders, and distinguished guests joined members of the firm in unveiling a stone marker commemorating a time capsule to be buried outside the firm’s Battery Park offices and recovered in another 125 years.

“All of us at Seward & Kissel realize how fortunate we are to work at an institution with such longevity,” said managing partner John Tavss. “We’re proud to be at a firm that has persevered through the countless challenges that have faced New York businesses since the late 19th century. It is our hope that Seward & Kissel will still be thriving in the year 2140, when this time capsule is to be opened.”

The event, held in the courtyard of Seward & Kissel’s offices at One Battery Park Plaza, included remarks from Bret Parker, executive director of the New York City Bar Association, on the firm’s founders and the practice of law in New York since 1890, when the firm first opened its doors in downtown Manhattan. Other notable guests included: Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough president; Catherine McVay Hughes, Manhattan Community Board No.1 chair; Warrie Price, Battery Park Conservancy president; and Bill Rudin, CEO and vice chairman of the Rudin Management Co.

The time capsule’s contents include a deal toy from a World Trade Center construction financing project, a BlackBerry, a business card, a Zagat guide, a map of the New York subway system, a bowling pin from a recent firm outing, and current information on starting associate salaries and law school tuition rates. Documents relating to the formation of the first hedge fund, which Seward & Kissel advised on in 1949, also are included. Reflecting our modern times, coverage of the event by Above the Law, the popular legal blog, will join the other memorabilia in the capsule.

Seward & Kissel has coordinated the retrieval of the time capsule with the New York City Bar Association. The capsule includes documentation of a Fidelity account containing a $1,000 investment in an index fund. It is the firm’s intention that the proceeds of this investment will be used to cover the expense of a celebration to be thrown upon the capsule’s retrieval, with the residual used to make a donation to the New York City Bar Association. (At a 7 percent average annual return, the investment would be worth more than $4.7 million in 2140.)

Also in connection with the 125th anniversary, the firm is making a donation of $125,000 to The Battery Conservancy, to purchase chairs for the newly refurbished Oval at The Battery, which will host concerts and other events. The firm has been located downtown in the Wall Street area for the entirety of its 125-year existence, through 22 U.S. presidents, two world wars, the Great Depression, Hurricane Sandy, and numerous other financial and world events.

Seward & Kissel first opened under the name Smith & Martin, and has operated in downtown New York City continuously since 1890. Landmark events in the firm’s history include the 1977 opening of its D.C. office and the 1992 addition of a transportation and shipping practice. Today the firm has grown to 160 lawyers in New York and D.C. with many leading practices, including work in the financial services, asset securitization, corporate trust, investment fund, litigation and governmental investigations, and transportation/shipping areas.

By Professional Mariner Staff