Larry and Mike Horn grew up in Nutley, raised by retailer parents running the family liquor store. Rather than enter the family business, both became lawyers; and on Tuesday, both are being recognized at NJBIZ’s 2019 Icon Honors Awards event as leaders over 60.
Larry is a white collar criminal defense attorney at Sills Cummis & Gross PC, and Mike is a banking attorney at McCarter & English. After two illustrious careers—which included a stint as Commissioner of Banking under Gov. Thomas Kean for Mike, and as an assistant U.S. attorney for Larry — their places on the list of honorees is no coincidence. The concurrence of their positions is.
When Mike decided to give law school a shot, the pair’s older brother Arthur was already an attorney. Mike hadn’t otherwise figured out what he wanted to do, and it was Arthur that steered him.
“It all started with a discussion with Art about the fact that he enjoyed the study of law,” a conversation Mike said he’s remained grateful for. “That’s why you see so many lawyers work past retirement age, because it’s enjoyable.”
And it was Mike and Arthur’s engagement with their own careers that influenced Larry to choose the legal profession as well.
Then in the state assembly, Mike was a member of the Assembly Banking Committee from 1972 to 1974. As Commissioner of Banking from 1982 to 1984, Mike was in charge of 340 financial institutions; and in 1984, he was appointed State Treasurer and oversaw budgeting and spending of all state funds. His legal career had started about a decade and a half before, and though he briefly pursued investment banking after leaving the public sector, he missed the personal aspects of lawyering.
“The interesting aspect of investment banking is that you make a lot of money. I don’t know of any poor investment bankers,” he said. “But I missed having a fiduciary duty to a client. Investment bankers go on from deal to deal, they forget the last and go on to the next. When you practice law, you have this relationship with your client and I felt good about that.”
Since rejoining the legal world at McCarter & English 29 years ago, he’s never doubted it was the place for him. He represents financial institutions and corporations in regulatory, corporate governance and litigation matters.
While Mike was in the state assembly, Larry was an assistant U.S. attorney, representing the government in criminal tax cases.
“I tried 25 cases in seven years. Being able to say ‘I’m Larry Horn and I represent the United States of America in this case,’ that still gives me chills,” Larry said.
After seven years as a prosecutor, he said, it was time to move on.
“Prosecuting is a younger person’s game. You have your fill of prosecution. It’s not good to have career prosecutors because I feel one loses his or her perception that they’re holier than God. There’s always uncertainty with changing a career path. But it was the right thing for me and most people.
There’s been so much nationwide consolidation in the practice of law that so many of the New York-Philly-L.A. firms have offices in New Jersey. Yet McCarter and Sills Cummis are still leaders at the bar as New Jersey-born and based firms, recognizing where we came from.
– Larry Horn
At Sills Cummis since 1979, he’s a white collar criminal defense attorney with a specialization in defending people being investigated and prosecuted for income tax evasion.
As homegrown New Jersey boys, their long-held position at homegrown firms is a source of pride for the brothers, explained Larry.
“McCarter and Sills Cummis are two of probably the 10 last standing firms that started in New Jersey, McCarter maybe 100 years ago, and Sills Cummis in the sixties,” Larry said. “There’s been so much nationwide consolidation in the practice of law that so many of the New York-Philly-L.A. firms have offices in New Jersey. Yet McCarter and Sills Cummis are still leaders at the bar as New Jersey-born and based firms, recognizing where we came from.”
Despite their similar career paths, the brothers say that when they get together, work talk is off the table.
“When we get together, we talk about family,” Larry said. “And I can’t talk about my cases. Nobody wants to be my client. It’s not fun being under criminal investigation by the U.S. attorney or being indicted.”