In the early 1950s, when Cyril Moscow’s parents asked him what he wanted to do for a living, he responded like so many other liberal arts majors uncertain about their future. “I hadn’t taken any science courses (at Wayne State University),” he says, “so the only thing I could [tell them] was, ‘I’m going to be a lawyer.’” Although he wasn’t exactly sure of it himself, he knew that answer would please his family.
“I didn’t know much about it,” he says, “but it seemed like a good idea.”
As a renowned corporation lawyer now in his 49th year with Detroit-based Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn, Cy Moscow has literally written the book on Michigan corporation law. He not only helped draft the Michigan Corporation statute and its amendments; he also co-authors the annually updated bible on the subject.
Besides practicing at Honigman, where he helped grow the prestigious corporate law firm from nine to 220 attorneys, Moscow has taught prospective attorneys the ins and outs of corporate and securities law as an adjunct professor of law at the University of Michigan for the past 35 years.
Upon graduating from U-M’s law school in 1957, Moscow served as a civil trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice before joining Honigman in 1960. When a firm client decided to go public in one of the first waves of IPOs in the early 1960s, Moscow, with no experience in the area, was given the assignment and forced to learn securities law “on the fly.”
“I ended up writing a prospectus before I had ever seen one,” he says. “And when it was discovered that I had an aptitude for that type of work, I soon was in on every deal and became the ‘corporate guy.’”
When the firm’s founder, Jason Honigman (who also served as chair of the Michigan Law Revision Commission), decided in 1968 that the 1931 Michigan corporation statute needed revising, he turned to Moscow. To this day, Moscow serves as chair of the Business Corporation Act revision subcommittee.
“I love the action of a big corporate transaction,” Moscow says, “because it’s very exciting to deal with high-level people in the interplay of business and law. As a corporate lawyer, you’re sort of an internist or project manager, and it gives you intellectual accomplishment moving through all of that.”