In these dire times, academia is regarded as a refuge. Sure, endowments are down, some schools have imposed hiring freezes, and budgets are being trimmed here and there. But the academy, especially the legal academy, hasn’t seen anything like the carnage experienced by Biglaw.
Take the ivory tower of Columbia Law School, which apparently remains an impregnable fortress against the recession. Despite a few budget cuts at the university, the law school still provides professors with delicious digs. From the Sunday New York Times:
Many buyers say that jumbo mortgages are hard to come by these days. But don’t tell that to Edward R. Morrison, a law professor and economist at Columbia University, who is something of an expert on these troubled times.
Last month Mr. Morrison and his wife, Anne, bought a restored two-family town house at 357 West 121 Street in Harlem for $2.575 million. Brokers said it was a record price for a town house in the neighborhood — just down the hill from the Columbia campus in Morningside Heights, near Morningside Park — and one of the top 10 town house sales in Harlem in recent years.
As we’ve told you before, to the Elect go all the spoils. (Ed Morrison clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia.)
Now, a $2.6 million townhouse is pretty sweet — but it’s not the nicest piece of real estate owned by a CLS faculty member. That title surely belongs to Hans Smit’s $29 million mansion.
(Actually, make that $30 million, the price reflected in the current version of the listing. What recession?)
More details about the Morrison manse, plus a picture of the super-cute professor, after the jump.
To purchase a $2.6 million property, even with financing help from the university, Professor Morrison must be making a killing. And so is the seller of the property:
The two-family town house bought by the Morrisons was restored over a decade by the prior owner, Peter Marciano, a contractor, who stripped many layers of paint from the woodwork and created a rooftop garden. Mr. Marciano paid $150,000 for the house in 1997, just as new buyers were rediscovering Harlem, and brokers said that after all that hands-on work, he had a hard time deciding to sell it, repeatedly changing his mind.
Meanwhile the Morrisons, with three children and a dog, were outgrowing their apartment in university-owned housing on Morningside Drive and 115th Street. Mr. Morrison, an expert on bankruptcy court and credit markets, recently testified before the House of Representatives on proposed mortgage foreclosure legislation.
Professor Morrison has some experience with questionable lenders:
Property records show that the Morrisons had some help financing the purchase. They obtained a $1 million first mortgage from Countrywide Bank, now a subsidiary of Bank of America, and a second mortgage directly from Columbia University for $1,039,000.
Ah yes, that Countrywide. Perhaps Professor Morrison borrowed from Countrywide for research purposes, to get firsthand exposure to its lending practices?
Of course, Edward Morrison isn’t the typical, beleaguered Countrywide borrower. The Times article explains that “[t]he first mortgage was provided by Countrywide through another university program that provides mortgages at ‘favorable rates’ to some faculty members.” Does that make Professor Morrison a “friend of Angelo”?
Mr. Morrison is a practitioner of empirical legal studies, analyzing the impact of the law on people and institutions. In 2007, another Columbia law professor specializing in empirical techniques, Catherine M. Sharkey, was recruited by the law school of New York University, whose foundation provided $4.2 million toward the purchase of an apartment for her use on Central Park West and West 106th.
ATL covered Cathy Sharkey’s luscious lair back in this post.
Congratulations to the Morrison family on their fabulous new home!
Big Deal: An Academic Perk [New York Times]