Lawyerly Lairs

Let’s talk about two of our favorite topics here at Above the Law: Dewey & LeBoeuf and real estate. They’re two great tastes that go great together.

There’s certainly news on both of these fronts. In Washington, for example, the firm is facing an eviction lawsuit. Dewey’s D.C. landlord, Property Group Partners, claims that the firm hasn’t paid $927,052 in rent on its 140,000 square feet of space.

In New York, home of Dewey’s headquarters at 1301 Avenue of the Americas, there’s bad news too. The Ben Benson’s steakhouse in the building, which was something of a company canteen for Dewey, is closing next month. Said a source: “Could it be that the building is cursed, ever since JC Penney moved out decades ago?”

Near the top of the 45-floor building, the office of Steven H. Davis, Dewey’s ex-chairman, is also getting packed up. This space, described to us as the “Taj Mahal” of law offices, is not what it once was.

Dewey have pictures? Most certainly….

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Which former White House official lives in this charming abode?

As we move deeper into election season, more of the nation’s attention is turning to Washington. So it seems only fitting for Lawyerly Lairs, our peek into the homes and offices of top legal talent, to follow suit.

In our last visit to D.C., we looked at residences worth around $500,000, a perfectly respectable sum. But today, to enhance the voyeuristic thrill, we’re upping the price point. We’re limiting ourselves to seven-figure residences.

Let’s have a look at some million-dollar homes in the Washington metropolitan area, shall we?

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They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Here at Above the Law, we have given you many thousands of words about the troubles of Dewey & LeBoeuf. See, e.g., this lengthy post about the firm’s former leaders, ex-chairman Steven Davis and former executive director Stephen DiCarmine.

Now we bring you some pictures. As it turns out, the possible demise of Dewey has inspired the creation of art.

Keep reading, and check out the images below for a forthcoming portrait of former chairman Steven Davis, a chilling photograph, and an unfortunate D&L advertisement….

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In August of 2009, while driving around Silicon Valley after speaking at Santa Clara Law, I saw an office park in East Palo Alto with a sign that jumped out at me. Being a Biglaw groupie, I stopped and snapped a picture:

I parked, got out of my rental car, and walked around. I was struck by the beauty of the overall office complex, with its expansive plaza, immaculate landscaping, and fountains. It was a veritable law firm Xanadu!

Or maybe an old Indian burial ground….

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(Plus more potential partner departures.)”

New Yorkers: you can have this house for the cost of a one-bedroom in Queens.

We will admit to some bias in Lawyerly Lairs, our column about the fabulous homes of lawyers all across this great land. As you may have noticed, Lairs coverage focuses disproportionately on the East Coast and the West Coast. Most recently we’ve written about a $10 million beach house in Malibu, a $3 million condo in Manhattan, a $10 million mansion in Brooklyn Heights, and a variety of properties in Washington, D.C.

So we’re going to try something different today. We’re heading to the heartland, where there are some major real estate bargains to be had.

Have you ever fantasized about selling your $500,000 (or $1 million or $2 million) home in an expensive coastal city, buying a $250,000 place in a less expensive part of the country, and pocketing the difference (so you can live off it for a while)? Keep reading….

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Most of the coverage of this $10 million Malibu beach house changing hands has focused on the famous seller. Music mogul Irving Azoff, executive chairman of Live Nation Entertainment and the founder of Azoff Music Management Group, has represented such mono-monikered celebrities as Seal, Jewel, and Christina (Aguilera, of course).

But we’re more interested in the buyer, a phenomenally successful litigator. Who is he, and where does he work?

And what does the inside of his new home look like? We have photos, of course….

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(For A Cool $10 Million)”

The people building 1 World Trade Center still seem to be having trouble attracting big-time tenants. Especially law firms. Previous reports have indicated that Mayer Brown and Morgan Lewis have backed out of deals to take up residency in the new tower.

The latest law firm deal to fall through appears to be that of Chadbourne & Parke. In January, the New York Times reported with much fanfare that Chadbourne & Parke would be a “prime tenant” a 1 WTC. But this week, the New York Post is reporting that the deal has fallen through.

Chadbourne, currently housed at 30 Rock, doesn’t have to go downtown, but it can’t stay where it is. So where will Chadbourne be going?

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845 West End Avenue

In the battle to stay high (or climb higher) in the all-powerful U.S. News law school rankings, law schools compete with each other to woo star faculty. And this makes sense. Because a school’s peer reputation score “appears to explain around 90% of the variation in overall USNWR score,” as noted by Professor Eric Talley over at TaxProf Blog, it pays for a law school to snag top talent.

How does a law school prevail in the battle for superstars? Well, despite their impressive academic pedigrees and their Big Ideas, law professors just like us: they love luxury real estate.

Check out the $3.6 million apartment, located in the magnificent prewar condominium at 845 West End Avenue, that NYU Law School just added to its collection of fabulous faculty housing….

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A lovely view of the National Cathedral (click to enlarge).

A congressman?

No, silly — we’re talking about real estate, an obsession that I share with many Above the Law readers. There’s a reason why Lawyerly Lairs is one of the most popular, well-trafficked features on this site.

Last month, we visited a few attorneys’ homes in Washington, D.C. This visit to our nation’s capital proved so popular that one of our D.C.-based readers volunteered up her own home for your scrutiny.

Let’s check it out….

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'So then I said to them, 'We have, like, a staggered board AND a poison pill. So suck on that!''

The halls are alive with… the sound of vermin? As we’ve mentioned earlier today, some top law firms (and even one top law school) are experiencing problems with rodents, insects, and other pests.

And, unfortunately, some of these critters have crept into company canteens. Thanks to New York City’s controversial system of rating restaurants, in which establishments receive letter grades based on their health and sanitation violations (or lack thereof), we know which law firm cafeterias are worth patronizing (and which ones are best avoided).

Let’s take a look at which Biglaw behemoths have the best — and the buggiest — dining rooms….

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