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Corner Office: November, 2011

by Editorial Staff--South Jersey Biz
Peter Bejsiuk
Managing Shareholder, Capehart Scatchard

Peter Bejsiuk, the managing shareholder of Capehart Scatchard, says something not a lot of people in business can say: “We hope to be around for another 130 years.”

Capehart Scatchard, a business and litigation law firm, has been rooted in South Jersey since 1876. Because of that rich history, much about the way the firm treats its clients hasn’t changed during the past century. The company is also very serious about helping the community. Civic responsibility is paramount, which is shown in monthly collections for local charities and other donations throughout the year. Bejsiuk himself, while serving as a member of the Business Law Section of the American Bar Association and speaking at several litigation seminars, also takes time to serve on the board of directors for the Perkins Center for the Arts in Moorestown.

Since Capehart Scatchard settled in Mt. Laurel in the 1980s—its original location was in Camden—the staff has grown from less than a dozen to 65, and offices have expanded to include four states. Bejsiuk took some time to speak with South Jersey Biz recently about how Capehart’s history makes it unique, how the firm thrived in the recession, and why he loves his job.

How does the age of the law firm make it stand out in terms of its culture and relationship with clients? Mr. [Blaine] Capehart is 103 years old. He doesn’t come in anymore, but he did until he was 100. He actually started working here with the people who started the original firm. There’s a real continuity of gentlemanship, camaraderie and professionalism that he instilled in us. We take that legacy forward with growing the firm and turning it into one of the larger firms in South Jersey, and maybe even New Jersey. In terms of clients … we give personal service to every client. Our goal is to make every client feel like they’re the only client in the firm.

How is that philosophy put into action? We have a hands-on approach in terms of making sure the client is informed and a partner with us in the work we do with them. We want to make sure the client does not have any surprises.

How has the firm grown in the 26 years you’ve been there? I started as an associate and at that time we probably had 10 lawyers in the firm and have since grown to 65 lawyers and counting. We’re looking at expanding again next year. We’ve added offices in New York, Delaware and Pennsylvania. We keep a close handle on our costs in terms of personnel and technology. We keep our nose to the grindstone in terms of keeping costs down and producing income.

What do you see as a challenge in your industry? The economy is a big concern with everybody, our clients especially. In an ironic twist, it’s been better for us, actually, because we’ve been able to hire associates in the last four or five years that we wouldn’t have had access to prior to that. We have a great new staff of young attorneys who are here and also attorneys who came from other firms.

Describe your business strategy. Outwork competitors. We put in the hours here to make sure the work gets done in a timely manner. If that requires us to be here on a weekend or at nighttime, than so be it.

Your 2012 outlook. Two-thousand-twelve looks rosy for us. We asked a number of people [recently] how they’re doing and they’re all busy and in need of assistance. Our plans are to expand and add another two to three associate attorneys next year and interview lateral candidates.

What’s life like outside of the office? I love to travel, it doesn’t really matter [where]. To me, it’s a time to relax, not worry about work at the office, getting away from it for a while.

Your must-have gadget. My iPhone. It’s like having a super computer in the palm of your hands. It’s also elegant; it’s not clumsy.

Book recommendation. The Tipping Point [by Malcolm Gladwell]. It sort of sums up what you need to know in business and probably in life in some ways.

What do you enjoy about your job? It’s intellectually challenging work. It’s a job that you have something new every day. There was someone who said if you really love what you do, you don’t work a day in your life. It’s a cliché, but if you’re challenged intellectually and you have a variety of tasks and work to do it, then it really makes it interesting. The day flies.

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Biz, Volume 1, Issue 11 (November, 2011).
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