Biglaw, Fabulosity, Lawyerly Lairs, Money, Real Estate

Lawyerly Lairs: Cravath Cribs (Part 1)
(A non-partner’s million-dollar penthouse.)

The Cornwall: home to a Cravath crib.

The venerable firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore has received a fair amount of criticism for its allegedly subpar bonuses. I’ve previously defended their payouts — in times of economic uncertainty, is paying modest bonuses to avoid later layoffs such a bad idea? — but my view has been poorly received. (For commentary castigating firms for their cheapness, please turn to my colleague, Elie Mystal.)

Partners at Cravath, where profits per partner exceeded $3 million in 2010, are definitely in the top 1 percent. But it seems that even non-partners are doing quite nicely for themselves, despite all the bonus bellyaching.

Check out the million-dollar penthouse — yay real estate porn! — of one of Cravath’s corporate lawyers. And she’s not even a partner….

UPDATE (12/12/11): We’ve gotten our hands on the floorplan, which we’ve added to the slideshow, and we’ve added additional comments about what a “practice area attorney” does at Cravath.

Christine Raglan

Meet Christine Raglan, a “practice area attorney” in Cravath’s corporate department. She joined Cravath in 2002, after graduating from Columbia Law School, so she’s fairly senior. My guess is that she’s like a senior associate or counsel in the corporate department, who’s there to serve as a resource for other lawyers in the practice area. (Feel free to enlighten us about what exactly practice-area attorneys do at CSM.)

UPDATE (12/12/11): Here’s what one CSM source says about the “practice area attorney” title:

[We internally refer to them] as “specialist attorneys.” As you guessed, they are very senior people who specialize in a particular field — they don’t rotate like associates. They generally have more lucrative pay packages than very senior associates, but not as much as “Senior Attorneys” (who have to be elected to that position by the partnership). Many specialist attorneys are laterals who are brought in to run complex portions of deals (e.g., derivatives, real estate, UCC, etc.), where it’s not as economical to have too many partners….

[Practice area attorneys] aren’t paid bonuses on the same scale as associates, so while they may technically be older than class of 2003, their comp isn’t on that scale.

Anyway, Raglan recently bought the penthouse apartment atop the Cornwall, an elegant prewar co-op on New York’s Upper West Side. The New York Observer reported on the sale, by artist-slash-actor-slash-environmentalist Carson Grant (great name):

Mr. Grant recently plopped the penthouse down atop the prewar Cornwall building, constructing it himself — after you make your own vulva, is there anything you can’t do? According to a write up on the property, the three-bedroom, 2-bath duplex has solar lighting and various other eco-conscious trappings. Apparently that wasn’t a big selling point, as the Halstead listing barely makes mention of the Al Gore-caliber details.

Wow — a three-bedroom, two-bath duplex, on the UWS? How much did this sweeping space set back Christine Raglan?

Originally listed in 2010 for $2.995 million, Mr. Carson apparently overestimated New Yorkers’ love of nature. After the ask was repeatedly chopped over a year and a half, the place finally sold for $1.725 million, according to city records.

A $1.2 million discount? Sounds like quite a deal; Cravath corporate lawyers sure know how to negotiate. But the place may need an investment of some billable hours:

The Observer spoke to Ms. Raglan about the space which she described as “weird but incredible.” She says that while the roof is impressive, it needs significant work. “That’s my first project,” she said. Ultimately she plans to install a tub, outdoor shower and grill on the massive terrace, but until then she will have to satisfy herself with the company of birds and bees.

“Weird but incredible” is a good description of the space. Check out the pictures….

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