Arthur M. Greenbaum, a seminal figure in New Jersey’s real estate and legal communities for over six decades and a founding member of the Greenbaum, Rowe, Smith & Davis law firm, passed away on April 11, 2017 at the age of 91.
Broadly regarded as a dean of real estate law in New Jersey, Arthur and his late brother Robert S. Greenbaum joined their father William L. Greenbaum to establish one of New Jersey’s most prominent and enduring business law practices and a family legacy.
Arthur Greenbaum was born on April 26, 1925 in Newark, New Jersey, where he graduated from Weequahic High School. Arthur served as a naval communications officer in the United States Navy during World War II, stationed in London, England. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania in 1947. He received his Juris Doctor from Rutgers Law School in 1950 and passed the bar that year.
The Greenbaum law firm, at its origin a small Newark-based general practice, grew into a statewide real estate powerhouse with Arthur Greenbaum and Robert Greenbaum at its helm. After their father’s death in 1983, the Greenbaum brothers were instrumental in the firm’s strategic expansion into a full service business law firm in the decades that followed.
Focusing day-to-day on transactional work, redevelopment and land use, real estate brokerage and trade association law, Arthur represented many prominent builders and developers of residential and commercial real estate, real estate brokers, commercial landlords and tenants, lending institutions and title companies. As an eminent authority in his field, Arthur made numerous appearances before the New Jersey Supreme Court, where his position on key issues had a profound influence on real estate legislation and law. Among several landmark cases, Arthur considered as his most important work the outcome of a case, after 15 years of litigation, which resulted in the creation of New Jersey’s Three-Day Attorney Review Clause. The groundbreaking 1983 ruling introduced the now-standard clause protecting the rights of both buyers and sellers in contracts for the sale of residential real estate.
Throughout his exceptional career, Arthur functioned as a lawyer, confidant, counselor and advocate on behalf of his many real estate industry clients. He was justifiably proud to have served for nearly five decades, beginning in 1962, as General Counsel to New Jersey REALTORS®, the 45,000 member real estate trade association. The longevity of that relationship is just one example of the enduring nature of his connection to clients. Arthur met Kevork Hovnanian in 1959, the
same year the Armenian-American businessman founded Hovnanian Enterprises, which would become one of the country’s leading homebuilders, with operations in 14 states and over 200 residential communities to its credit. Arthur formed a lifelong professional and personal bond with Mr. Hovnanian and his family, also serving on Hovnanian’s Board of Directors for fifteen years. Noteworthy as well was Arthur’s hands-on representation of Union Valley Corporation and its principals Jan Kokes, Miroslav Kokes, and Herbert Wishnick in their visionary and landscape-altering development of more than 30,000 homes in Ocean and Burlington Counties in New Jersey.
A longtime resident of Monmouth County, Arthur was a firm believer in giving back to his local community. For many years, he served on the Executive Advisory Council of the Kislak Real Estate Institute at Monmouth University, on the Board of Trustees of Monmouth Medical Center, and as a Trustee of the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County. In 2015, Monmouth University dedicated the Arthur M. Greenbaum Bridge, a new connecting structure on its West Long Branch campus, in honor of Arthur’s support and commitment to the education of real estate leaders at the university. For his ardent commitment to the welfare and highest principles of the legal profession, Arthur was named a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. In recognition of his distinguished leadership and professional accomplishments, Arthur was also the proud recipient of numerous other honors during his lifetime. He received the inaugural Leadership Excellence Award from the Kislak Real Estate Institute at Monmouth University (1994), an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Monmouth University (1996), a Distinguished Alumnus Award from Rutgers University School of Law-Newark (2005), an Industry Service Award from NAIOP-NJ (2007), and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New Jersey Law Journal (2016). He will be the posthumous recipient of a second Lifetime Achievement Award from the New Jersey chapter of NAIOP in May of 2017.
In his own words, one of the great joys of Arthur’s professional life was the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Greenbaum, Rowe, Smith & Davis in 2014. The firm’s clientele now relies on the expertise of 100 lawyers practicing in the areas of real estate, litigation, corporate law, tax and estate law, environmental law and family law. As a fitting tribute to the Greenbaum family legacy, the firm’s real estate practice continues to thrive in its role as a leading provider of legal services to businesses engaged in that fundamental sector of New Jersey’s economy.
Arthur was a cherished colleague, friend and mentor to all who had the honor of working by his side at the firm which bears his name. Outgoing and gregarious, with a contagious zest for life, he was an avid boating enthusiast and an accomplished athlete, particularly on the softball field or when waterskiing. It is, however, his family that truly defines what was most important to Arthur Greenbaum as a man.
Arthur is survived by his beloved wife Dorothy. The couple married in New York City in November of 1948 and celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary with family members this past Thanksgiving Day. He has referred to Dorothy as “a thing of beauty in my soul. Everything I am, I attribute to her.” Arthur and Dorothy greatly enjoyed the most recent four years of their lives together at Seabrook Village in Monmouth County, which they described as “a wonderful community filled with many dear friends, and the happiest home we’ve ever had.”