Fabulosity

Scrooge McDuck: he is the 1 percent (but not a lawyer).

Becoming a millionaire a few months after graduating from law school is pretty amazing. But can you imagine being a billionaire?

Wouldn’t it be nice to be a member of the Forbes 400, the richest people in the United States? Then you can party on a yacht with models and bottles donate $20 million to the law school that helped launch you along the path of professional success.

We’ve written before about the lawyers and law school graduates on the Forbes 400. Earlier this month, the magazine released the latest rankings, and lawyers made a strong showing.

But there aren’t as many lawyers on the list as there used to be. What happened?

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Reasonable minds can disagree on how to reform law school, but here’s one thing that almost everyone can agree upon: the tuition is too darn high. In an ideal world, legal education would be much more affordable. Not everyone has wealthy parents who insist on paying for college and graduate school.

Alas, we’re probably not going to see major change on that front anytime soon. As long as the federal government keeps the loan money flowing, law schools have little incentive to lower tuition.

So, at least for now, we’ll have to settle for more modest measures at controlling cost. For example, law schools can and should devote greater resources to scholarships, which lower the effective price tag of a J.D. degree.

One leading law school just received a gigantic gift — which it’s putting towards scholarships, to its credit. Which law school is on the receiving end of this largesse, and how much is it getting?

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Andrew Kravis, recent Columbia Law School grad and new millionaire.

Congratulations to Andrew Kravis. He graduated from Columbia Law School this past May, but he’s already earned enough money to pay off all his student loans.

And no, he doesn’t work at a hedge fund or private equity firm. He doesn’t even work in Biglaw. He’s a public interest lawyer, about to start a fellowship at Lambda Legal, the nation’s oldest and largest legal organization working for LGBT civil rights. He was honored upon graduating from CLS as one of two students “who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in the furtherance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights.”

So how did this outstanding do-gooder also do so well? How did he earn enough money to pay off all his student loans, and then some — a cool $2.6 million, to be exact?

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Back in June, we got a chance to see an absolutely great response to a cease and desist letter. The author of that response letter, Stephen B. Kaplitt, is an Above the Law folk hero for kicking off his response to an unnecessarily threatening C&D with “obviously [this] was sent in jest, and the world can certainly use more legal satire,” before systematically ripping the opposing attorneys a new one.

Now comes another great response to a C&D letter, and this one may even be better because of the firm on the receiving end.

Teaser: Biglaw smackdown! Snarky footnotes! Spice Girls references! Lollipops!

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Last week, we toured the $5 million estate of a renowned plaintiffs’ lawyer down in Texas. We mentioned that this legal eagle was fleeing his finely feathered nest in favor of even better abode: a $14 million mansion, smaller in square footage than the old house, but with a much better location.

Now it’s time for us to check out the new digs. This mansion has “only” 12,000 square feet, compared to the former home’s 14,000 square feet, but it has many other things going for it….

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Whenever we write about a lawyerly lair in New York City, our readers in Texas scoff. They mock the tiny size and high price. They observe that for the cost of a minuscule Manhattan studio, you could get yourself 3500 square feet — plus a Lexus! — down in Texas. And did you know that there’s no state income tax down there?

Today our Texas tipsters will be happy. We’re visiting the $5 million, 14,000-square-foot mansion of a renowned plaintiffs’ lawyer — with room for many Lexuses, in the 13-car garage….

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This column, Lawyerly Lairs, is all about real estate voyeurism. But today’s story emphasizes the voyeurism over the real estate. Let’s hope there are some Rear Window fans among you.

In Cobble Hill, one of Brooklyn’s loveliest and leafiest precincts, the “sexy shower” of one attorney abode has got the neighborhood talking. Lawyers are often focused on minimizing exposure, but neighbors claim that’s not the case for the owners of a beautiful, multimillion-dollar townhouse.

Let’s see what all the fuss is about. It seems that there’s more to this story than meets the eye….

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200 Chambers Street: architect’s rendering.

If you were to ask lawyers to name some lucrative practice areas, immigration law would probably not top many lists. While there are some elite firms that do immigration law for corporations or high-net-worth individuals (and charge a pretty penny for their services), many immigration lawyers are more dedicated to helping their clients over their bank accounts.

But some immigration lawyers with their own firms do very, very well for themselves. Take, for example, the one who just sold his Tribeca apartment for a cool $3.6 million — to a pair of poker champs, so presumably they got a fair deal.

The buyers might have paid a reasonable price, considering the fabulosity of the unit. But the seller still earned a seven-figure profit on the transaction….

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There hasn’t been much major good news on the associate compensation front over the past few years — since, say, January 2007. But recent weeks have brought pockets of minor good news for limited constituencies. Green shoots, anyone?

In Miami, Greenberg Traurig raised starting salaries by 16 percent, from $125,000 to $145,000. In New York, Sullivan & Cromwell and Skadden Arps started offering $300,000 signing bonuses to Supreme Court clerks.

And now $300K bonuses for SCOTUS clerks have spread, to other law firms in other cities. Consider this the new going rate for top-shelf talent….

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Readers of Above the Law are a classy bunch. Sure, you enjoy a good sex scandal every now and then — who doesn’t? But you also enjoy more high-minded fare, ranging from Supreme Court analysis to career advice to discussion of the history of legal education.

Your highbrow tastes manifested themselves in our recent summer associate event contest. Rejecting pop culture icons and fun-sounding sporting events, you flocked to the polls to vote for a classic….

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