Boutique Law Firms, Fabulosity, Lawyerly Lairs, Money, Partner Issues, Real Estate, Small Law Firms, Sonia Sotomayor

Lawyerly Lairs: Justice Sotomayor’s Former Boss Sells His $20 Million Townhouse

Justice Sonia Sotomayor has earned millions of dollars in royalties from her bestselling book, My Beloved World (affiliate link). Maybe it’s time for her to upgrade from that perfectly nice but far from lavish D.C. condo.

But she’s still far from being able to purchase the home of her former boss, George Pavia, who hired Sotomayor after she left the Manhattan District Attorney’s office (and later promoted her to partner). The patrician Pavia, managing partner of the Pavia & Harcourt boutique firm, just sold his magnificent townhouse on the Upper East Side for $19.5 million.

Pavia’s former residence is an elegant five-story, red-brick, neo-Georgian townhouse. It sits on a quiet, tree-lined block between Fifth and Madison Avenues, just steps away from Central Park and luxury shopping.

It would be many a Manhattanite’s dream home. But it actually comes with a nightmarish history….

The New York Observer broke the news of the sale and alluded to the home’s troubled past:

Nearly two decades after George and Antonia Pavia signed a lease on their Upper East Side townhouse with notoriously litigious tenant James Couri, sparking years of legal wrangling and copious quantities of press, the couple’s time at 18 East 73rd Street is finally coming to a close: they’ve signed a contract to sell the neo-Georgian brick townhouse for $19.5 million to an undisclosed buyer, according to Douglas Elliman, who represented the sellers.

The dispute between the Pavias and James Couri began back in 2000, but was immortalized in a nearly 3,500-word New York Times piece six years later, in which Mr. Couri’s formidable legal history (he was named as a party in almost 150 cases, they wrote) and bizarre letter-writing style (“Your father was a fascist sympathizer and you were a member of the Mussolini-Fascist youth corps during pre-World War II,” he wrote in a 2002 letter to Mr. Pavia) was laid bare.

George Pavia

Check out the full Times piece, which recounts the epic legal battling between George Pavia and Jim Couri. Although I have some sympathy for tenants — I worked in the landlord/tenant clinic in law school, and know how sleazy some landlords can be — in this case, I lean towards George Pavia’s side.

Based on the Times article, Couri sounds like a somewhat unpleasant, disagreeable person (who doesn’t get along with gay people). Standing up for one’s legal rights is all well and good — as Couri told the reporter, “this is America, and we stopped going after each other with bow and arrows” — but you can’t help wondering about someone who’s involved in 150 lawsuits (mainly as a pro se litigant).

UPDATE (6/15/2013, 1:30 p.m.): We’ve received a slew of emails from Jim Couri or from one “Stanley Wilson, Assistant to Jim Couri” (all coming from the same “Jim Couri” email account). Here is a representative message:

Mr Latt– Ref yout recent Article about Pavia-18 E 73 St—–You may want to click below and read this. Jim Couri has no “dislike” for gays as one of his best pals for 30 years was attributed as “gay”—Roy M Cohn. Also jim did not have “150 Cases” Pro-Se or otherwise. What was reported took about 45 Cases Jim was involved in for a span of 38 yeare, and multiplied the number of defendants in each Case. Jim and his Companies were Plaintiffs in all these cases and prevailed on most all. Jim has been sued only 4 times ever. Thank you for following Jim’s activities. If you wish to speak to Jim please call him at [redacted] and check “Jim Couri on Linkedin and his Bio on

—–Stanley Wilson, Assistant to Jim Couri

Fortunately for George Pavia, he eventually prevailed over Couri in court. The Pavias celebrated the victory by hosting an exorcism party in their home.

So hopefully the new owner won’t be haunted by the ghost of Couri. Let’s check out what this undisclosed buyer paid almost $20 million for….

(hidden for your protection)

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