This week, we spoke with Robert Schiappacasse ’91, an attorney at Sills, Cummis & Gross.
The Power of an Alumni Network
While attorney Robert Schiappacasse ’91 has long since graduated the Academy, he still reaps the rewards of his CBA experience and the men he bonded with along the way.
“Seniors should take the accomplishment of graduating CBA very seriously and what that signifies,” Schiappacasse said. “They should also make sure that do whatever they can for fellow alumni and never hesitate to ask fellow alumni for assistance.”
As a lawyer who has been based in New Jersey for the duration of his practice, Schiappacasse said that he needs both hands- and maybe then some- to count the number of times he’s crossed paths with an Academy alum who has offered to help him.
“The CBA experience is not just what happens while these students are in school, but also the strength and depth of the alumni network,” he said. “Ever since I graduated, I have crossed paths with hundreds of CBA alumni that I had never met before. The CBA experience is a very strong bond, so of course, I have always have gone out of my way to help anyone who is a fellow alum.”
His Time at the Academy
During his four years at the Academy, Schiappacasse was a mainstay on the Colts track teams, participating in both the indoor and outdoor seasons.
It was his time on the track team, along with freshman year English class, that helped him form a close bond with Mr. Robert Maier. Schiappacasse believes that his experiences with Mr. Maier both on the track and in the classroom helped him gain the most out of his time at CBA.
Schiappacasse was a member of the debate society, something that he credits for gaining an understanding on what it took to argue a point and setting groundwork for his future as a lawyer.
While the debate society may have fostered his talent for making an argument, he certainly did not plan on being a lawyer when he was a student at the Academy.
Next Level Education
Schiappacasse attended Rutgers University for his undergraduate studies, still unsure of what path to follow, something many college-aged CBA alums can relate to.
“I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in history,” he said. “That wasn’t my original intention. I actually went to Rutgers with the intention of going through the business school. After my first year, I realized that wasn’t for me and switched gears towards political science and english, then I started developing the idea of going to law school.”
As his time as a student at Rutgers came to a close, Schiappacasse made the decision not to wait to take his next step towards being a lawyer. He enrolled in Seton Hall University Law School and began his schooling there immediately after his undergraduate studies were completed.
“Seton Hall was great and I enjoyed my time there,” he said. “I received a good education in terms of learning the law and managed to make and keep a lot of my contacts in the law community, especially since I wanted to stay and practice in New Jersey.”
Life as an Attorney
The Upper Freehold resident currently works at the firm of Sills, Cummis & Gross, which is a corporate practice group. He does most of his work out of the firm’s Princeton offices.
Schiappacasse has a broad range of experience in corporate law, something he has specialized in during his entire career. He focuses on mergers and acquisitions, ranging from six-figures to over 100 million dollars.
As a lawyer who deals with clients both nationally and internationally, Schiappacasse has developed a strong relationship with digital communication, something that has made the legal world much more efficient.
“A lot of what I do with transactions is done through mediums of technology,” he said. “I do much of my work over email, Skype calls and similar avenues. The technology has made the necessity of the face-to-face interactions, negotiations, client meetings and such, really obsolete. There are circumstances where travel is required, but that’s now more the exception than the rule.”
Schiappacasse laughs when he thinks of the days of constant in-person meetings, noting how inconvenient it was when he represented a wide range of industries. Now, he can smoothly transition from a phone call about state and federal regulatory filings to Skype session over a middle-market waste and recycling company.
How The Academy Prepared Him
To this day, Schiappacasse can’t thank the Academy enough for the skills and ideals that the school instilled in him during his time in Lincroft.
“The education I received at CBA was simply excellent,” he said. “Like a lot of things in life, you don’t necessarily realize it at the time, but when I elevated to college and law school, I really realized how CBA prepared me academically. My experience at CBA was the platform for everything that I have achieved.”
While he attended high-profile universities for both undergraduate studies and law school, he believes that many of the skills he requires as a lawyer were learned in the Academy’s classrooms.
“When I look at all the skills that have served me well, such as my interpersonal skills like accountability, responsibility, dedication, it was CBA that really developed those areas,” he noted. “When I graduated CBA and went on to Rutgers, I was much better prepared for the next step in my life. It would have been very easy to get lost at a big school like Rutgers without the skills I acquired at CBA.”
On The Horizon
As a lawyer, Schiappacasse understands that the profession has no room for complacency. It is a field that requires you to adapt as the law adapts, meaning he always has room for improvement.
“My goal always has been to be a better lawyer year after year,” he said. “Of course, now I have young children, so your personal goals are always geared towards their success. At this point, I want to continue to serve my clients to the best of my ability. People come to me for help, so my success always relies on how well I can serve these people who need my help.”
While he juggles both his personal obligations and his professional responsibilities, Schiappacasse knows that everything he accomplished, and everything he will accomplish, started with his four years at CBA.
“Any time that I talk about CBA and its role in my life and career, I always start with the education,” he said. “The same goes for all the alumni I have ever met. Again, it’s the strength of this alumni network that impresses me the most. It’s something I hope continues on for generations to come.”