Lawyerly Lairs

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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Behind door number one, an actress turned lawyer.

When I receive the sections of the Sunday New York Times that get delivered on Saturday, the first one I reach for is Real Estate. And one of the first features I read is The Hunt, Joyce Cohen’s delightful column chronicling the victories and defeats of those who dare to take on the New York City real estate market.

A recent installment of The Hunt featured a lawyer who was previously a movie star. With two daughters and a penchant for entertaining, she and her husband had outgrown their three-bedroom condominium on the Upper East Side. They wanted a townhouse. But with a budget of no more than $2 million, they had their work cut out for them.

Who is the actress turned attorney — a star of one of the most iconic films of the 1990s, in fact — and where is her new home?

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(Or: An actress turned lawyer’s uptown abode.)”

Steven Guynn

Back in March, we wrote about Steven Guynn, who at the time was a corporate partner at King & Spalding. Above the Law readers who work at K&S are happy campers, giving the firm a solid grade of B+ in our Career Center. Alas, the allegations against Guynn would seem to merit an F. As you may recall, Guynn was accused of assaulting his alleged mistress, Jeannette Schaefer.

Today we have some updates about Steve Guynn (all via Teri Buhl). First, Guynn is reportedly getting divorced from his wife, Kristie Guynn. Second, the criminal case against him no longer appears in the online docket for the Connecticut courts (perhaps because it has been moved to a domestic violence docket). Third, he is no longer at King & Spalding.

(We reached out to King & Spalding to confirm Guynn’s departure from the firm. They did not respond to our inquiry, but Guynn’s bio has been pulled from the firm website. Here is a cached version, which shows Guynn’s impressive educational and professional background, including the two other top firms where he was once a partner.)

The allegations against Steven Guynn have never been proven. But here is one thing established beyond a reasonable doubt: his multimillion-dollar mansion is fit for royalty. Shall we take a peek?

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Now THIS is a mansion.

In the world of Manhattan real estate, life begins at $1 million. Sure, you can get a very nice studio or one-bedroom apartment for six figures. But if you’re looking for at least two bedrooms and two baths, in a decent part of town, be prepared to pay the mansion tax (although a 1,200-square-foot apartment is hardly a “mansion”).

In today’s edition of Lawyerly Lairs, we’ll present you with two apartments, both priced between $1 million and $2 million. Then we’ll ask you to vote in a reader poll and say which one you prefer. We’re all about interactivity here at Above the Law.

Now, on to our first contestant….

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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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