Marc Dreier courtyard.jpgLaw professors generally don’t earn as much as Biglaw partners. Legal academic salaries, while generally in the low six-figures, rarely go over, say, $400,000.

But some law profs own very, very nice homes. See, e.g. (in descending order by value):

  • Columbia professor Hans Smit ($30 million mansion — yup, that’s seven zeros);
  • Yale professor James Whitman ($5.7 million co-op);
  • NYU professor Cathy Sharkey ($5.2 million apartment);
  • “Feldsuk,” aka Harvard professors Jeannie Suk, who has a new book out that looks quite interesting, and Noah Feldman ($2.8 million mansion);
  • Columbia professor Edward Morrison ($2.6 million townhouse); and
  • Columbia professor Sarah Cleveland ($2.5 million townhouse).

Sometimes the professors get financial assistance for these purchases from the schools that employ them. But sometimes the professors buy them on their own, without any university help.

For example, as reported in the New York Observer, Daniel Fischel, former dean of the University of Chicago Law School, just picked up an $8.45 million Manhattan pied-à-terre. As breathlessly described by writer Max Abelson, the apartment features “custom electric shades, a steam shower, and a Sub-Zero wine refrigerator.”

Sounds fabulous! Maybe Professor Fischel can donate a weekend in this apartment to the CLF public interest auction?

Fischel’s famous neighbors, plus the story of how he got this rich — being a law school dean pays well, but not that well — after the jump.

Dean Fischel’s apartment is in One Beacon Court, the celebrated luxury condominium that’s home to Beyonce and Brian Williams. And things at One Beacon are looking up, now that the notorious Marc Dreier has left the building.

How did Dan Fischel become this wealthy? Abelson notes that Fischel is “famous for helping gentlemen like Ken Lay, Charles Keating and Michael Milken.” But Fischel didn’t represent them (probably a good thing, since they all got convicted); rather, he testified as an expert witness on their behalf.

Fischel, a law and economics expert, founded Lexecon, a hugely successful economic consulting firm. The firm is now known as Compass Lexecon, and Fischel serves as chairman and president.

His net worth may have been helped, inadvertently, by the plaintiffs’ bar. From his Wikipedia entry:

As an expert witness, Fischel has testified on behalf of Charles Keating, Ken Lay, and Jeffrey Skilling. His work so upset plaintiffs’ law firm Milberg Weiss that they engaged in a vendetta against Fischel and Lexecon, leading to a defamation suit by Fischel and Lexecon that led to a landmark Supreme Court decision about multi-district litigation (Lexecon Inc. v. Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach, 523 U.S. 26 (1998)) and a $50 million settlement.

We would happily be defamed for $50 million. Heck, we put up with it every day for free (see the ATL comments).

Moral of the story for law students: pay attention to the law and econ stuff, and maybe someday you too will have an $8 million apartment.

P.S. The Observer article also mentions a recent real estate purchaser by another notable lawyer — Marc Weitzen, chief legal adviser to billionaire Carl Icahn. But that apartment, at $4.2 million, pales in comparison to Daniel Fischel’s place.

Icahn, Icahn! Son’s $2.9 M. PH, Lawyer’s $4.2 M. Condo [New York Observer]

Earlier: Lawyerly Lairs: Marc Dreier’s Penthouse Goes for $8.2 Million


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