Lawyerly Lairs

1185 Park Avenue

We recently took a peek at a $1.7 million apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, in a story entitled Lawyerly Lairs: Cravath Cribs (Part 1). (By the way, we’ve updated that post with the condo’s floor plan, as well as information about what it means to be a practice area attorney at Cravath.)

We called the story “Part 1″ because we knew, at the time, that we’d be bringing you a “Part 2.” Think of Christine Raglan’s UWS penthouse as the appetizer — or maybe even just the amuse-bouche. Now it’s time for the entrée, something far more substantial.

Let’s fly across Central Park and alight in the Carnegie Hill neighborhood of the Upper East Side, where a Cravath partner recently sold his ultra-luxurious residence — for a whopping $4.6 million. Interestingly enough, the buyer is a lawyer as well, in-house counsel at a major media company.

Who are the parties to this transaction? And what does a $4.6 million apartment look like?

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(Partner parts with Park Avenue property.)

The Cornwall: home to a Cravath crib.

The venerable firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore has received a fair amount of criticism for its allegedly subpar bonuses. I’ve previously defended their payouts — in times of economic uncertainty, is paying modest bonuses to avoid later layoffs such a bad idea? — but my view has been poorly received. (For commentary castigating firms for their cheapness, please turn to my colleague, Elie Mystal.)

Partners at Cravath, where profits per partner exceeded $3 million in 2010, are definitely in the top 1 percent. But it seems that even non-partners are doing quite nicely for themselves, despite all the bonus bellyaching.

Check out the million-dollar penthouse — yay real estate porn! — of one of Cravath’s corporate lawyers. And she’s not even a partner….

UPDATE (12/12/11): We’ve gotten our hands on the floorplan, which we’ve added to the slideshow, and we’ve added additional comments about what a “practice area attorney” does at Cravath.

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(A non-partner’s million-dollar penthouse.)

Last summer, David Van Zandt announced that he was stepping down as dean of Northwestern Law, in order to assume the presidency of the New School here in New York. In the fall, he put his magnificent mansion on the market — for a whopping $4.7 million. (DVZ bought the 6,300-square-foot house, in Chicago’s tony Lincoln Park neighborhood, for $922,550 back in 1996.)

We were impressed. We wrote at the time: “It seems that Dean Van Zandt’s talents extend to real investing as well as academic administration!”

But some commenters were less enthused. Wrote one, “Let’s wait and see how much he actually gets, shall we?” Said a second, “I live in the area…. he will be lucky to get $3.0M.”

We can now report that a buyer has closed on President Van Zandt’s former home. How much did he get for it?

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Edward De Sear

I grew up in the town of Saddle River, New Jersey, a suburb about 40 minutes outside of New York City. With its wooded rolling landscape and small-town charm, Saddle River is a pleasant place to live. Large houses, a mix of stately older homes and well-executed McMansions, sit on sizable plots of land, thanks to two-acre zoning.

It was a peaceful and bucolic locale, and when I visit my parents, it seems much the same. My colleague Staci Zaretsky, our newest full-time contributor here at ATL, also grew up there — and concurs with my assessment.

But Saddle River, like the suburbs depicted in such films as American Beauty and Happiness, is not without its drama. Yesterday Edward De Sear, 64, a resident of Saddle River and a capital-markets partner at the distinguished international law firm of Allen & Overy, was arrested at his home and charged with distributing child pornography. The charge of distributing child pornography carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum penalty of 20 years and a $250,000 fine.

UPDATE (12:00 PM): Make that a former partner of Allen & Overy. De Sear has resigned from the firm, according to a statement issued by A&O. Read it in full after the jump.

Let’s learn more about the allegations against Ed De Sear, hear from someone who knows him, meet his high-powered defense counsel — and check out his beautiful and historic home….

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The Mandarin Oriental in Boston.

Some readers have issues with the often irreverent commenters here at Above the Law. While ATL commenters sometimes say hurtful or offensive things, like anonymous commenters all over the internet, they also provide significant value. They serve as copy editors, highlighting our typographical mistakes; they work as tipsters, pointing us in the direction of news stories; and they function as fact checkers, identifying errors in reporting.

Relying upon the estimable Boston Globe, we recently reported that Henry Rosen, a real estate lawyer at Choate Hall & Stewart, purchased a fabulous $13 million penthouse condominium. But a commenter came along and disputed that: “[Rosen's] just a straw — he purchased it as trustee for a trust.”

After seeing this comment, we raised the issue with the Boston Globe reporter who wrote the original story. And as it turns out, Henry Rosen is not the real party in interest. He is not the true purchaser of the prime penthouse at the Mandarin Oriental in Boston.

Let’s look at the Globe’s correction….

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The Mandarin Oriental in Boston.

CORRECTION (7/13/11): Alas, it appears that this apartment is not a lawyerly lair. Please see this correction.

It’s time for a new installment of Lawyerly Lairs, Above the Law’s behind-the-scenes look at luxurious lawyer residences. As we close out the week that started off with the Fourth of July, it’s fitting that we turn our attention to Boston, the city some call “The Cradle of Liberty.”

Ain’t freedom grand? One Boston attorney has enough free cash flow to buy the most expensive condominium ever sold in Boston — the very best penthouse at the Mandarin Oriental Residences, on tony Boylston Street.

Let’s find out who this lawyer is, where he works — and, of course, what $13.2 million buys you in Beantown….

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This year, we’ve heard a few horror stories from the poor and downtrodden students of NYU Law School –- and that is not the way we’d usually characterize these students.

But when the recession hit, NYU Law’s students were hit even harder. Some 3Ls were unemployed — so unemployed that Barrister’s Ball tickets had to be subsidized. Some 3Ls were so poor that they can’t afford black market commencement tickets. Holla! Livin’ in squala!

How could the school better use student tuition dollars to avoid these problems in the future? How could the school improve its students’ quality of life? These circumstances were likely difficult for the school’s administration to address, so it seems that they decided not to address them at all.

Instead, the school did this:

Yep, NYU Law bought a $3.5 million condo in the West Village….

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Katherine Forrest: You'd smile too if you were this rich.

I recently wrote about Katherine B. Forrest, the celebrated litigatrix nominated to a federal judgeship on the breathtakingly prestigious Southern District of New York. Forrest currently serves as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice’s antitrust division, but before joining the DOJ she was a longtime partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore — a premier, if not the premier, American law firm. Forrest was one of CSM’s most popular (and most powerful) young partners.

Katherine Forrest has a reputation as an incredible attorney, and she has the awards to prove it (see question 8). Not surprisingly, the ABA deemed her “unanimously well-qualified” as an S.D.N.Y. nominee.

So here’s what I wondered: Why did the amazingly accomplished Forrest, a partner at super-lucrative Cravath for over a dozen years, declare a mere $4.3 million on her net worth statement? Granted, $4.3 million is nothing to scoff at; KBF is rich (even by Elie’s standards). But it seemed to me that a lawyer of her distinction, who was a partner at a top firm for such a long time, should be even richer.

Thanks to information from helpful readers who saw my earlier post, I now know the truth. As it turns out, Katherine Forrest is considerably wealthier than that $4.3 million number suggests.

Way richer, in fact. Let’s find out….

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The Jones Street townhouses. Number 20 has the purple door.


As small-firm columnist Valerie Katz previously discussed, some partners at small law firms are worth big bucks. The only practicing lawyer in the Forbes 400 is a small-firm attorney, in fact.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some partners at small firms have big and beautiful wives homes. The New York Times recently featured one such lawyerly lair: a magnificent townhouse in Manhattan’s coveted West Village neighborhood, now on the market for almost $7.5 million.

The owner of this house once worked at a large law firm and is now a partner in a small law firm. Which firms?

Find out — and ogle photos of the palatial spread — after the jump.

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In 2010, music superstar Lady Gaga earned an estimated $64 million. Meanwhile, legal superstar Lady Kaga — aka Justice Elena Kagan, of the United States Supreme Court — earned considerably less.

For the part of 2010, the Divine Miss K served as Solicitor General, earning an annual salary of $165,300. After her confirmation as an associate justice of the Supreme Court, she got a raise, to $213,900 a year — a healthy income, but less than the base salary of a fifth-year associate in a law firm (or the total compensation in 2010, bonus included, of a fourth-year associate). Her income as a justice is also much less than her salary of $437,299 as Harvard Law School dean.

Still, even though Justice Kagan might not be filthy rich, she has done well for herself. At the time of her nomination to SCOTUS, she reported a net worth of around $1.8 million. Given this rosy financial picture, as well as her six-figure income and great job security — it’s rare for a federal judge to be impeached, Judge Porteous notwithstanding — it’s not surprising that Her Honor was recently spotted checking out some pretty pricey D.C. digs.

Where was she looking? And what seems to be her homebuying budget?

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