The law firm cafeteria is something of an anachronism. Having a large company mess hall where associates can grab a bite to eat without taking too much time to get lunch isn’t really necessary anymore. Nobody takes a “lunch hour” anymore. Associates can use Seamless and eat at their desks.
And we know partners aren’t eating in the firm cafeteria unless they are 80 years old and too busy to head to Peter Luger’s. No law firm cafeteria is nice enough to bring a client to; that’s why God created expense accounts.
But the cafeteria is still useful for secretaries and paralegals. At my old firm, the cafeteria was a great place to grab breakfast. At Debevoise, the cafeteria enjoys the best views of the block. We used to bring lawyers from Schulte Roth, which is housed on the lower floors at 919 Third Avenue, to show them our view (and to console them while they cried).
The point is, even as the Biglaw cafeteria has diminished relevance given our modern conveniences, you don’t want your firm perk to be disgusting. Last March, we learned that a number of Biglaw firms had received poor grades from the New York City Department of Health about the quality of their in-house cafeterias.
But it appears that Cravath’s food fortunes have significantly improved…
In March, commenting on the NYC health department grades, Am Law said this about Cravath’s cafeteria (the “Cravatheteria”):
Cravath, too, was hit with 25 violation points following a February 2 inspection of its “Cravath Cafe” — down from the 39 violations points it racked up on January 19. Critical violations detected on February 2 included cold food not being kept cold enough and “filth flies or food/refuse/sewage-associated (FRSA) flies present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas.”
Yuck. But a tipster reports that the NYC Health Department’s latest review netted the Cravatheteria a top grade:
I wanted to let you know that the Cravatheteria has received an A rating as of August 17, 2012, from the NYCDOH.
Tasty, at least by New York standards. And more in keeping with the letter grade of “A” earned by Cravath in Above the Law’s industry reputation survey. (You can look up the industry reputation grades of different firms in ATL’s new Law Firm Directory.)
A spokesperson for Cravath confirmed the news, but didn’t elaborate on how CSM engineered this turnaround.
I think the credit should go to incoming Cravath leader C. Allen Parker. He isn’t taking over from Evan Chesler as presiding partner until the end of the year, but presumably Parker’s exerting influence behind the scenes, as deputy presiding partner. Could the cafeteria’s improvement be a sign that Cravath has started to feed its employees better? Remember, you can’t eat prestige. Maybe this is a sign that the firm will finally raise the bonus bar this year?
Cravath isn’t the only major law firm that can now boast of its culinary accomplishments. The three other firms that failed to receive A grades for their cafeterias the last time around — Cadwalader, Davis Polk, and White & Case — now all enjoy the highest health rating from New York City. And nothing says “healthy eating with no roaches or mice” like New York City!
Have any firms that previously received A grades fallen out of the top tier? Please feel free to look up your firm on the DOHMH website and email us, subject line: “[Firm Name] Cafeteria,” if you notice anything interesting.
P.S. Speaking of law firm facilities, there’s still time to enter our Lawyerly Lairs contest for the best law firm offices in America. But the nomination period closes tomorrow night, so don’t delay.