“He certainly met that standard in every way shape and form, both as a trial lawyer and as a leader of the legal community and of this law firm,” said Blank Rome Co-Chairman Alan J. Hoffman.
Comisky passed away Friday morning at age 92, but friends and family remember him as a devoted family man and a passionate lawyer, who retained his sharp intellect, wise judgment and love for the profession even as his body began to fail him.
Largely regarded as a co-founder of the Blank Rome that exists today, Comisky first joined what was known as Blank & Rudenko in 1959.
That firm eventually became Blank Rome Klaus & Comisky in 1968 and, in 1979, changed again to Blank Rome Comisky & McCauley, the nameplate that endured until 2003, when the firm shortened its brand to simply Blank Rome.
“Blank Rome has enjoyed significant growth through lateral hires — this is a firm that people want to join — and we always say Marvin was one of the first laterals,” Hoffman said.
In 1969, Comisky was elected the firm’s first managing partner and held the position until the mid-1980s.
Hoffman credited much of Blank Rome’s success to Comisky’s leadership, praising him for “the talent he recruited to bring to this firm, his vision for this firm and his risk-taking when that needed to be done in terms of growth.”
“I think that as one of the founders of the firm and leaders of the firm, we wouldn’t be where we are today or where we intend to be in the future without Marvin Comisky’s work,” he said.
More than one person The Legal spoke to referred to Comisky as a “lawyer’s lawyer.”
He was renowned as a trial attorney, but was perhaps better known as a talented appellate litigator who could bring cases back from the brink.
“He was oftentimes retained by trial lawyers who had handled trials and lost to handle the appeal. He was perceived to be the guy that could pull it out of the hat on appeal,” said Alan C. Gershenson, a lawyer with Lamm Rubenstone in Trevose, Pa., who worked at Blank Rome from 1971 until 2006, beginning his career under Comisky’s tutelage.
Gershenson said he spent much of his early years at the firm writing appellate briefs for Comisky and second-chairing him at hearings.
“He was absolutely the best boss one could ever imagine,” Gershenson recalled. “Patient, a great teacher, never raised his voice, never lost his cool, just absolutely the ideal boss.”
Likewise, Cozen O’Connor member David F. Girard-diCarlo, who served as managing partner and chief executive officer of Blank Rome for 16 years before a six-year tenure as chairman of the firm, remembered Comisky’s “consummate professionalism.”
“I loved the man,” he said. “He taught me so much that it’s hard for me to detail in just a couple of sentences how much I learned. I learned from him not only what was best about our profession and a lot about how you manage an organization, but I also learned to appreciate people’s strengths and to not dwell on weaknesses.”
Services will be held on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Beth Shalom Congregation, 8231 Old York Road in Elkins Park, Pa. Contributions in Comisky’s name can be made to: Beth Shalom Congregation, 8231 Old York Road, Elkins Park, Pa. 19027, or Abramson Center for Jewish Life, 1425 Horsham Road, North Wales, Pa. 19454-1320.
Read more about it in Monday’s Legal.