Lawyerly Lairs

1010 Fifth Avenue is just steps away from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (visible in the background).

Biglaw isn’t the only source of big bucks. In fact, some of the wealthiest lawyers in America are plaintiffs’ lawyers who work on their own or in small law firms.

But you don’t need to be a plaintiff-side lawyer from Texas to strike it rich. A partner at an elite litigation boutique in New York just bought an apartment once owned by a famous business mogul.

Let’s see what $12.5 million buys in the Big Apple these days….

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Just outside the window: marble statues of Roman goddesses.

Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful Swedish woman. She came to the United States and studied at an elite college and top law school. After graduation, she went to work at Davis Polk — which is where all the beautiful people work.

While at Davis Polk, this blonde beauty met her Prince Charming — an older, extremely successful M&A partner. They got married at a Caribbean resort, and their wedding made the pages of the New York Times (of course). A few years later, she left the firm to become the general counsel to a global investment bank. Unlike many other power couples, they remain married to this day.

Fairy tales can come true. Let’s learn about a remarkable couple, then ogle their castle in the clouds….

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The facade of 1067 Fifth Avenue (via Bridge and Tunnel Club).

Each week, the Big Ticket column in the New York Times real estate section records the most expensive housing deal of the prior week. The most recent column focused on a $16.25 million condo on the 42nd floor of the Trump International Hotel and Tower — a two-bedroom apartment, so that works out to a little more than $8 million per bedroom. Welcome to the world of high-end Manhattan real estate.

The second-place sale, clocking in at $8.325 million, took place across town on the Upper East Side. The apartment in question, once inhabited by a notable New York lawyer, will now welcome a high-ranking partner at a top international law firm.

Oh, and he clerked for the Supreme Court, too. Some people truly do lead charmed lives. And wait until you see the pictures of his new residence….

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I’ve previously mentioned how much I enjoy The Hunt, Joyce Cohen’s weekly column in the New York Times in which she describes the housing search of someone brave enough to take on the NYC real estate market. Prior installments of the column have featured lawyers and even law students.

Last week’s installment featured a lawyer at Quinn Emanuel, who went house hunting with his wife, who works at a test-preparation company. The home they wound up getting would probably be viewed as bike storage by John Quinn, but it’s plenty nice by the standards of mere mortals.

How much did they pay, and how much space did they get? Would you be impressed if I told you they got 1,500 square feet for less than $750,000?

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D.C.’s largest lawyerly lair?

A few days ago, conservative political bloggers had some fun with the news of left-leaning commentator Matthew Yglesias buying a $1.2 million condo. But I tend to agree with Jonathan Chait: unless you’re a full-blown communist, there’s nothing inconsistent between being somewhat liberal and owning a nice place. I don’t even have a problem with so-called “limousine liberals” (although owning a $1.2 million apartment is hardly limousine land).

The news of Yglesias’s real estate purchase first appeared in Washingtonian magazine, which has fantastic coverage of the D.C. real estate market. The same column also contained news of several lawyers cutting seven-figure housing deals….

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“Where do I sit?” seems like an important question. Especially for second-graders on the first day of school. Or for zit-spocked high schoolers angling to spend some class time in the proximity of their crushes. And just like second-graders or hormonal high schoolers, Biglaw partners are known to obsess about their office locations. For example, I have seen partners I used to work for studying the floor plan like a treasure map, for uncomfortably long periods of time.

Surely they were mentally imagining their names transposed over a corner office, or next door to the big conference room, or for the real aspirants, within touching distance of the managing partner’s office. While this behavior is strange when taken to the extreme, it highlights an important reality of Biglaw.

Where you sit, matters….

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Justice Sotomayor can be seen everywhere — from First Street to U Street to Sesame Street.

I had the pleasure and honor of meeting then-Judge Sonia Sotomayor, at the time a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, at a friend’s wedding in the spring of 2005. I wrote a quick story about it for my first blog, Underneath Their Robes. I praised Her Honor as “striking,” “glamorous,” and stylishly attired: “Based on her fashion sense, it sounds like she’d be more at home on a Paris runway!”

But what really struck me about Judge Sotomayor was how friendly and down-to-earth she was. She chatted amiably with everyone, just like an ordinary guest; she put on no Article III airs. And when the time came to cut the rug, she and Judge Barbara Jones — then of the S.D.N.Y., now of Zuckerman Spaeder — dominated the ballroom like it was their courtroom.

Now the rest of the nation is seeing the Sonia Sotomayor that I briefly glimpsed almost eight year ago. As reflected in recent media coverage, the Wise Latina is truly America’s judicial sweetheart. And super-nice to the neighbors in her U Street condo building — who have all sorts of fun dish on the justice….

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Behind the blue door lies a world of great beauty.

You’d expect a top mergers-and-acquisitions lawyer to have excellent business sense. So it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that an M&A partner at a leading law firm bought a Manhattan townhouse for $837,000 that is now probably worth more than $7 million.

It’s a gorgeous home, very tastefully decorated (which can’t be said of all our Lawyerly Lairs). Let’s see some pictures and learn more about it, including the identities of the owners….

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The Beresford, at 211 Central Park West.

Renowned diplomat Richard Holbrooke, who came very close to becoming Secretary of State, passed away in December 2010. His wife, noted journalist Kati Marton, recently sold the magnificent apartment they shared at the Beresford, the legendary prewar co-op on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Over the years, as noted in the building’s Wikipedia entry, the Beresford has been called home by such celebrities as “comedian Jerry Seinfeld, singer Diana Ross, tennis player John McEnroe, Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit, actor Tony Randall, and musician Laura Nyro.” (I was going to say that Nyro’s publicist must be a Wikipedia admin, but it seems that Nyro passed away back in 1997.)

UPDATE (1/16/2013, 11:45 AM): We just heard from a longtime Beresford resident who advises us that Diana Ross never lived in the building (although the Diana Ross Playground is across the street).

Now the Beresford will be graced by a former Biglaw partner, who bought Holbrooke’s home for an eight-figure sum. Sharing an elevator with Jerry Seinfeld will be….

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In 1853, in Chicago, Frederick Hampden Winston founded the law firm that would eventually become Winston & Strawn. Today Winston is a global giant, with approximately 1,000 lawyers practicing in 15 offices around the world.

As you might expect from the founder of one of the world’s great law firms, Frederick Winston was an impressive individual. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1852. His first law partner, Norman Judd, was the delegate who nominated Abraham Lincoln at the 1860 Republican National Convention. His next law partner, after Judd became President Lincoln’s ambassador to Germany, was Henry Blodgett — no, not that Henry Blodget (one “t” versus two) — who later served as a federal judge. In 1894, Frederick Winston became law partners with Silas Strawn — and the rest, as the say, is history.

If you’d like to own a piece of history, you can purchase the 1896 mansion that was built for Frederick Winston. It’s now on the market, for just under $10 million.

No, this is not an apartment building (although it could be converted into one). It’s a single-family house — the house that Winston built….

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