Lawyerly Lairs

I told careful readers six months ago that I would soon be moving to London. I made the move on September 1, and here’s the local news:

Senior partners at major London law firms can’t afford to live!

Well, not quite: But senior partners at many major London law firms can’t afford to live in London itself.

I recently had lunch with — prepare yourself — a senior partner at a major London law firm. When I told him where I was now living, he said that it was nice that my commute would be so short:

“Twenty years ago, the senior partners at most big law firms lived in London. But today, unless you have inherited wealth or bought your home long ago, most senior partners at London firms can’t afford to live anywhere near the City. Partner pay just won’t cover the cost.”

As an expatriate American, this startled me: I’m confident there’s no American city where senior partners at major law firms can’t afford local real estate. But in London, this has the ring of truth to it. From an American’s perspective, everything in London is nauseatingly expensive (or “quite dear,” as the locals so quaintly put it). But the cost of housing goes far beyond “nauseatingly expensive”; it’s eye-poppingly, grab-your-chest-and-drop-to-the-ground, out of sight. It leaves partner pay in the dust. Here’s what I mean . . . .

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Chief Justice Roberts: he ain’t evolving.

* In light of Chief Justice Roberts’s historic vote to uphold Obamacare, should we expect JGR to be more liberal going forward? According to Jeffrey Toobin, author of The Oath (affiliate link), “Do not expect a new John Roberts. Expect the conservative he has always been.” [Talking Points Memo via How Appealing]

* Law firm staff layoffs: they’re not just an American thing. Slaughter and May is dropping the ax on 28 secretaries. [Roll On Friday]

* “[A]ny robot or high school graduate can calculate numbers in a matrix to arrive at the highest possible sentence. But it takes a Judge — a man or woman tempered by experience in life and law — to properly judge another human being’s transgressions.” [Justice Building Blog]

* Professor Dershowitz’s $4 million Cambridge mansion? Robert Wenzel is not impressed: “if I lived in that house, I would want to attack Iran and most of the rest of the world, also.” [Economic Policy Journal]

* A man sues a strip club, alleging that a stripper ruptured his bladder when she slid down a pole and onto his abdomen. Ouch. [Legally Weird / Findlaw]

* Still on the subject of Torts, two attractive blonde sisters walk into a bar — and discuss who can be held liable if a man suffers a heart attack during a threesome. Video after the jump….

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Professor Alan Dershowitz

Finding a decent apartment in New York City can be a challenge. But compared to getting Claus von Bülow and O.J. Simpson off the hook — or, for that matter, shaping the brilliant minds of Harvard Law School students — it’s a walk in Central Park.

Alan Dershowitz — distinguished public intellectual, celebrated criminal defense and civil liberties lawyer, and Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard — just purchased an apartment in NYC. It’s a homecoming of sorts for Dershowitz, 74. Although he has lived for years in Cambridge, the home of HLS, he was born in the Big Apple.

Dershowitz was born in Brooklyn, but the prominent professor isn’t going back to the borough that GQ dubbed “the coolest city on the planet.” Instead, he’s moving to Manhattan. (C’mon, do you think Dersh put up with thousands of HLS brats over the years so he could wind up right back where he started?)

Which neighborhood is Dershowitz moving to? How fabulous is his apartment? How much did he pay for it? We have answers to all of these questions, plus comments from the good professor about his move….

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In the crazy world of cyberspace, personal injury lawyers are a dime a dozen. By now, we’ve gotten used to their crazy antics and low-budget commercials.

But not all personal injury firms are created equal. For the Law Firm of Gary, Williams, Lewis, and Watson, P.I., “low-budget” is a concept that just doesn’t exist. To the contrary, the firm wants to make it clear just how baller the life of a private injury attorney can be.

Dubbing himself “The Giant Killer,” the firm’s larger-than-life head partner, Willie E. Gary, never misses an opportunity to make his wealth and success known. Touting hundred-million-dollar verdicts and rubbing elbows with celebrities, Gary is on a one-man mission to prove that chasing ambulances is much easier when you’re driving a Bentley….

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Being an associate at a large law firm isn’t easy. Partners can be extremely demanding, sometimes unreasonably so. But because the partners sign the paychecks, most associates, especially associates with student loans hanging over them, have no choice but to obey. The associate’s fantasy of telling his least favorite partner to take this job and shove it is just that — a fantasy.

But not for every associate. Some associates are so wealthy that working in Biglaw is just something they do for fun. In today’s Lawyerly Lairs, we introduce you to an associate whose new apartment puts many a partner pad to shame….

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Reichen Lehmkuhl

* In response to our contest for the best law firm offices, Vivia Chen proposes a contest for the shabbiest law firm offices — and gets the ball rolling with one nominee. (Hint: CHECK YOU hallways.) [The Careerist]

* Professor Eugene Volokh shares his views on the juicy leaked law review emails we covered earlier. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* And Professor Josh Blackman has some ideas about the identity of the conservative professor discussed in the controversial emails. [Josh Blackman's Blog]

* Villanova hired ESPN’s Andrew Brandt to be the director of the school’s Center for Sports Law. Students would probably be more excited if this meant ESPN was interested in hiring them. [SB Nation Philly]

* Sumner Redstone of Viacom just donated $18 million to Boston University Law. Quick, Boston College, hurry up and find an old rich guy to make a multi-million dollar donation to your school! [Hollywood Reporter]

* Reality TV hottie Reichen Lehmkuhl, perhaps better known for being Lance Bass’s ex-boyfriend, reports that he’s going to law school. He should be required to attend class without his shirt on. [Instinct Magazine]

Our first-ever Lawyerly Lairs contest to find the Best Law Firm Offices in America was a huge success. We received numerous nominations, which we reduced to a field of eight finalists (and four honorable mentions).

Then we opened the polls. Voter turnout ran high, with more than 4,500 votes cast in the contest.

Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for. It’s time to announce our winner….

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The polls remain open in our Lawyerly Lairs contest to find the Best Law Offices in America. If you haven’t done so already, you can review the eight finalists and cast your vote here.

The Georgia boutique of Bouhan, Williams & Levy took an early lead, thanks to their amazing offices in a restored Southern mansion. Right now, though, 1-800-LAW-FIRM is in first place. How many law firms have “walking tracks” and exercise rooms?

Due to the overwhelming response to our call for submissions, we were unable to include all of the great spaces that you shared with us. Today we’d like to recognize our “Honorable Mentions” — four firms that narrowly missed the final cut….

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As regular readers of Lawyerly Lairs know well, some attorneys have beautiful — and expensive — homes. As we’ve just learned from the impressive submissions in our contest to find the best law firm offices in America, many attorneys’ workplaces are no less spectacular.

With the help of Mary Kate Sullivan, our wonderful intern here at Above the Law, I’ve winnowed the large and impressive field to eight finalists. There’s nice diversity here, in terms of firms (Biglaw versus non-Biglaw); decor (traditional versus modern); and geography (seven different cities, located all over the country).

Let’s check them out, shall we?

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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…

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