'So then I said to them, 'We have, like, a staggered board AND a poison pill. So suck on that!''

The halls are alive with… the sound of vermin? As we’ve mentioned earlier today, some top law firms (and even one top law school) are experiencing problems with rodents, insects, and other pests.

And, unfortunately, some of these critters have crept into company canteens. Thanks to New York City’s controversial system of rating restaurants, in which establishments receive letter grades based on their health and sanitation violations (or lack thereof), we know which law firm cafeterias are worth patronizing (and which ones are best avoided).

Let’s take a look at which Biglaw behemoths have the best — and the buggiest — dining rooms….

This is, by the way, not the first time we’ve covered law firm cafeterias. Back in 2008, we did a story on the health inspection scores of NYC law firm cafeterias (although that was in the pre-letter-grading days). More recently, in 2010, we wrote about the cafeteria in the D.C. office of Skadden getting shut down for health code violations. (It wasn’t as bad as it sounds; click here.)

So on to the NYC letter grades for law firm cafeterias. The folks over at Am Law Daily prepared a comprehensive round-up. Let’s start with the good news:

Of the 24,000 dining establishments inspected and graded to date, many are company cafeterias. And, it turns out, 25 of those belong to Am Law 200 firms. All but four of the 25 earned an “A,” though only Kenyon & Kenyon’s cafeteria registered no violations.

Here are the 21 law firms that, in reporter Julie Triedman’s words, made “the health department’s A-list (not to be confused with The American Lawyer’s A-List).” Note that just because a cafeteria has an overall “A” rating does not mean it is violation-free. We’ve noted some of the yuckier violations parenthetically.

  • Akin Gump (this seems de minimis: “food protection certificate not held by supervisor of food operations”);
  • Cleary Gottlieb;
  • Covington & Burling;
  • Debevoise & Plimpton (ick: “filth flies or food/refuse/sewage-associated (FRSA) flies present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas”);
  • Dewey & LeBoeuf (they’re having some issues, but at least their cafeteria is above-board — well, except for the part about “[e]ffective hair restraint not worn in an area where food is prepared”);
  • Fried Frank;
  • Hughes Hubbard & Reed;
  • Kenyon & Kenyon;
  • Kirkland & Ellis;
  • Mayer Brown;
  • Milbank Tweed;
  • Patterson Belknap;
  • Paul Weiss;
  • Proskauer Rose (I’ve been to the cafeteria in their splendid new offices — tasty food and great views);
  • Reed Smith;
  • Ropes & Gray (generally fine, except surprising that this white-shoe firm got a “[p]ersonal cleanliness inadequate” note in the file);
  • Shearman & Sterling;
  • Sidley Austin;
  • Simpson Thacher;
  • Skadden Arps (also got the nasty “[f]ilth flies or food/refuse/sewage-associated (FRSA) flies present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas” note); and
  • Sullivan & Cromwell.

Okay. Let’s move on to the four firms that did not receive the top grade of “A” (which goes to about 72 percent of the rated restaurants — so it’s not that hard to achieve). Some of the names might surprise you….


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