Lawyerly Lairs

Back in the summer of 2008, we wrote a post entitled “Summer Associates of the Day: Sapphic Summers in Lesbianic Lip-Lock.” The title of the post pretty much says it all.

Well, it turns out that a partner at the same firm, Minneapolis-based Lindquist & Vennum, may have been misbehaving too. The Pioneer Press reports that Michael S. Margulies, a leading Twin Cities real estate lawyer, has been accused of professional misconduct — in the form of “misappropriat[ing] significant sums from a limited number of clients and from the firm,” according to a statement by the firm. Margulies has withdrawn from the firm’s partnership, reported his conduct to Minnesota’s professional responsibility office, and agreed to be disbarred. He has also resigned from the St. Paul Planning Commission, where he served several terms under different mayors.

What prompted this alleged theft? It seems that Michael Margulies, former head of Lindquist’s real estate group, may have loved real estate not wisely, but too well. From the Pioneer Press:

Margulies, 56, of St. Paul, and his personal company, Triad Services, were sued in Ramsey County District Court by a real estate development company for which he had worked as an attorney, secretary and treasurer. In the lawsuit, CMB Minnetonka LLC alleged that Margulies “made numerous illicit withdrawals” from CMB’s bank account and line of credit at Highland Bank and used the money — $1.5 million or more — for his own purposes.

Specifically, the suit claims Margulies spent the money to overhaul the historic mansion at 516 Summit Ave. in St. Paul that he owned with his former wife.

So he allegedly did it all for love of a house. Was it worth it? Just how nice is this pile o’ bricks?

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covington burling logo.jpgThis morning, we wrote about the partners at DLA Piper sharing in the pain of 2009. The trend at many firms reporting 2009 numbers has been the revenue line heading south while the profits-per-partner line heads north. At DLA, however, revenue and PPP were down at the firm, so Elie gave them a shout-out for not cutting deeply enough.
But perhaps more striking is Covington & Burling: Last year’s revenue was actually up at the D.C.-based firm — but PPP was down.
Covington is über white-shoe, but this seems oh-so-radical-populist. What happened?

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Sherry Netherland hotel condominium.jpgIn between Christmas and New Year’s, while most of us were stuffing our faces, celebrated litigator David Boies was stuffing his own stocking — with a magnificent New York apartment. Last year was a good one for Boies Schiller associates, at least based on their bonuses. And it probably was a good one for their boss, at least based on his latest real estate purchase.

There’s no need for Boies to feel guilty, though, since it seems he got a bargain. From Bloomberg:

David Boies, the antitrust lawyer who took on Microsoft Corp. and represented Al Gore in the contested U.S. presidential election of 2000, bought a seven room apartment overlooking New York’s Central Park for $7.75 million after the price was reduced by more than 20 percent.

Boies, chairman and founder of New York-based law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, purchased a two-bedroom unit at the Sherry-Netherland hotel on Fifth Avenue and 59th Street, according to city property records. The original asking price was $9.95 million, according to listing service StreetEasy.com.

More details, plus photos of the fabulous pad, after the jump.

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The legendary litigator snaps up an $8 million apartment.

Paul Weiss 1285 6th ave.jpgYou know who is in a strong position right now? Companies that are renting a large amount of office space in Manhattan. The real estate market is terrible, and landlords are offering sweetheart deals to keep tenants in the building.
Paul Weiss was apparently looking for an office upgrade, but the owners of 1285 6th Ave. convinced the firm to stick around. Crain’s New York Business reports:

In one of the largest real estate deals of the year, law firm Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison reached a deal to renew its lease and take an additional two floors at 1285 Sixth Ave. for a total of about 550,000 square feet, sources close to the transaction said.

That doesn’t sound like a bad deal. It’s one that will save the firm the expense of relocation. And the fact that Paul Weiss is getting extra floors can’t be a bad thing, right? Maybe they’ll have to hire more lawyers for that additional space?
Paul Weiss had a lot of options for office space. After the jump, we look at the midtown ghost town.

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Marc Dreier courtyard.jpgLaw professors generally don’t earn as much as Biglaw partners. Legal academic salaries, while generally in the low six-figures, rarely go over, say, $400,000.

But some law profs own very, very nice homes. See, e.g. (in descending order by value):

  • Columbia professor Hans Smit ($30 million mansion — yup, that’s seven zeros);
  • Yale professor James Whitman ($5.7 million co-op);
  • NYU professor Cathy Sharkey ($5.2 million apartment);
  • “Feldsuk,” aka Harvard professors Jeannie Suk, who has a new book out that looks quite interesting, and Noah Feldman ($2.8 million mansion);
  • Columbia professor Edward Morrison ($2.6 million townhouse); and
  • Columbia professor Sarah Cleveland ($2.5 million townhouse).

Sometimes the professors get financial assistance for these purchases from the schools that employ them. But sometimes the professors buy them on their own, without any university help.

For example, as reported in the New York Observer, Daniel Fischel, former dean of the University of Chicago Law School, just picked up an $8.45 million Manhattan pied-à-terre. As breathlessly described by writer Max Abelson, the apartment features “custom electric shades, a steam shower, and a Sub-Zero wine refrigerator.”

Sounds fabulous! Maybe Professor Fischel can donate a weekend in this apartment to the CLF public interest auction?

Fischel’s famous neighbors, plus the story of how he got this rich — being a law school dean pays well, but not that well — after the jump.

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Bryant Edwards Bryant B Edwards Paris pied a terre.JPGEarlier this year, Latham & Watkins laid off some 400 employees (190 associates and 250 staff). This caused many to wonder about how tough times were getting at Latham.
Well, don’t shed tears for LW partners just yet. From the New York Times:

If a tourist passing along the Rue du Cloître Notre-Dame just looks up, it is not hard to glimpse, through the open windows above, the rich colors of old master paintings that have been stretched across a ceiling in Linda and Bryant Edwards’s first-floor apartment.

And from the home itself, in an elegant Haussmann building dating to 1905, the family has its own view — of the garden behind Notre Dame Cathedral….

When her husband, 54, presented her with the apartment as a gift for her 40th birthday, Mrs. Edwards envisioned a kind of “Tale of Two Cities” life, split between Paris and what was then the couple’s home in London.

The generous husband in question, Bryant Edwards, is a partner at Latham & Watkins. Last year he moved to Dubai, where he serves as managing partner of the firm’s Middle East office. The Edwardses now use their Paris apartment as a pied-à-terre when they return to the Continent.
So, the question you’re all wondering: How much did this amazing apartment cost?

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Souter Obama Supreme.jpgI guess Justice Souter no longer has to play the role of humble civil servant, and can now start living the life of a former uber-powerful person. Yesterday, the New York Times reported that Souter is getting new digs:

When he retired from the Supreme Court in June, it was expected that Justice David H. Souter would return to his beloved family farmhouse in Weare, N.H., a rustic abode with peeling brown paint, rotting beams and plenty of the solitude he desired….
On July 30, he bought a 3,448-square-foot Cape Cod-style home in neighboring Hopkinton listed at $549,000. The single-floor home, for which he paid a reported $510,000, sits on 2.36 well-manicured acres.

The ABA Journal notes that Souter needed more space for his books.
At least he’s staying in New Hampshire. But his neighbors in Weare are acting like Souter is leaving the neighborhood to move to Havana or something. More details, plus photos, after the jump.

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runaway groom trial lawyer Above the Law blog.jpgRemember James Ferraro, aka the Runaway Groom? He’s the multimillionaire trial lawyer who, back in January 2008, left his wife — Patricia Delinois, a well-known real estate broker — standing at the altar.
Their story ended happily: Ferraro and Delinois reconciled and eventually did get married, a few weeks later. And Mrs. Ferraro is probably very glad they did.
At least if she likes nice real estate. From the New York Observer:

James L. Ferraro, the prominent Miami trial lawyer who owns the Cleveland Gladiators arena football team, is finally buying a nice Manhattan apartment. This week he’s spending $8,175,000 on a penthouse at the glassy Park Imperial on West 56th Street.

Even though Mr. Ferraro owns places in Miami and a 14-bedroom Martha’s Vineyard mansion, it had been years since he felt he could get a good bargain in New York. “I thought about it after 9/11, but I didn’t want to buy on a calamity–be a vulture on someone’s property; not that it’s bad karma, it is what it is. But this now is the best buying opportunity you’re going to have in the next 25 years.”

So, how much did he pay per square foot?

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CBS Building 1 Black Rock Blackrock Wachtell Lipton WLRK Orrick.jpgMega-fraudster Marc Dreier, who recently traded a magnificent penthouse for a cell at the MCC (look him up in the handy Inmate Locator), isn’t the only New York lawyer with new digs.
The iconic CBS Building (aka “Black Rock”), longtime home of Wachtell Lipton, has another prestigious legal tenant. From the New York Observer:

Law firm Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe was expected Thursday to sign a lease for approximately 220,000 square feet at CBS’ 38-story granite slab known as Black Rock, at 51 West 52nd Street, according to industry sources.

As part of the deal, Orrick is taking the space being vacated by UBS and Cushman & Wakefield, which will consolidate its midtown offices at 1290 Avenue of the Americas. Sources say that UBS paid more than $32 million to terminate its lease early, money which CBS applied to the Orrick deal to absorb the costs of Orrick’s build-out of the noncontiguous space to the tune of $150 a square foot, and which will reduce the firm’s rent in the building.

It’s a great building, with handsome, elegant architecture (courtesy of Eero Saarinen). Because the footprint is relatively small, it doesn’t have the impersonal, warehouse-like feel of many other New York office buildings. The midtown location is super-convenient, and the higher floors offer amazing views. (We know Black Rock well, having spent several thousand hours in it while working at Wachtell.)
An Orrick spokesperson confirmed to ATL that the deal, described by the Observer as “expected,” has closed. Congratulations to Orrick on the fabulous new digs!
Links and press release, after the jump.

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townhouse Professor Edward Morrison Ed Morrison 357 West 121st Street.jpgIn these dire times, academia is regarded as a refuge. Sure, endowments are down, some schools have imposed hiring freezes, and budgets are being trimmed here and there. But the academy, especially the legal academy, hasn’t seen anything like the carnage experienced by Biglaw.

Take the ivory tower of Columbia Law School, which apparently remains an impregnable fortress against the recession. Despite a few budget cuts at the university, the law school still provides professors with delicious digs. From the Sunday New York Times:

Many buyers say that jumbo mortgages are hard to come by these days. But don’t tell that to Edward R. Morrison, a law professor and economist at Columbia University, who is something of an expert on these troubled times.

Last month Mr. Morrison and his wife, Anne, bought a restored two-family town house at 357 West 121 Street in Harlem for $2.575 million. Brokers said it was a record price for a town house in the neighborhood — just down the hill from the Columbia campus in Morningside Heights, near Morningside Park — and one of the top 10 town house sales in Harlem in recent years.

As we’ve told you before, to the Elect go all the spoils. (Ed Morrison clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia.)

Now, a $2.6 million townhouse is pretty sweet — but it’s not the nicest piece of real estate owned by a CLS faculty member. That title surely belongs to Hans Smit’s $29 million mansion.

(Actually, make that $30 million, the price reflected in the current version of the listing. What recession?)

More details about the Morrison manse, plus a picture of the super-cute professor, after the jump.

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