Real Estate

Imagine returning home from vacation and finding your home cleaned out. The thieves grabbed all the furniture, all the gadgets, all the kitchenware, and left you nothing. That’s what happened to an Ohio woman recently, and the police are refusing to help.

That’s because the perpetrator was First National Bank. Except Katie Barnett was not behind on her payments; the bank just repossessed the wrong house.

Fair enough. Mistakes happen. The bank is going to pay her back though, right?

Right?

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What lies behind this door?

On New York’s Upper East Side, just down the street from my high school, sits a magnificent mansion. As my classmates and I walked past on our way to gym class in Central Park, I’d wonder: who lives at 7 East 84th Street?

A titan of finance, like a bulge-bracket banker or a hedge-fund god? The CEO of a Fortune 100 company? A reclusive heir or heiress?

Actually, no. It’s the home of a landlord/tenant lawyer. And not even a landlord-side lawyer, but a champion of tenants’ rights.

The scourge of New York City landlords is a lord himself — with a $30 million castle. Can you believe it?

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50 Riverside Drive

Last month, we brought you a Davis Polk fairy tale. Two talented lawyers met at the elite law firm, fell in love, and got married. They lived happily after, in their $6 million apartment (until they sold the apartment to a celebrated Chinese artist).

Now it’s time for the Sullivan & Cromwell version. For some lawyers who work there, S&C sends them into therapy; for others, it sends them into the arms of a beloved.

This couple met at Sullivan & Cromwell, got together, and bought an apartment at 50 Riverside Drive, a beautiful prewar co-op on the Upper West Side. They renovated the place — doing a lovely job, I might add — and then sold it for more than $3 million….

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One of the most magnificent homes we have ever covered in Lawyerly Lairs is the Manhattan mansion owned by the late Professor Hans Smit of Columbia Law School. Professors at NYU Law School, Columbia’s downtown rival, enjoy some pretty sweet real estate. But how many of them own a 12,000-square-foot house with its own Wikipedia entry?

Back in 2006, Professor Smit put his mansion on the market for $29 million. In 2007, he raised the price to $30 million. In 2008 — before the collapse of Lehman and the financial meltdown — he turned down a $20 million offer.

After being on and off the market for the past seven years, the house finally sold. For how much?

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Justice Sonia Sotomayor has earned millions of dollars in royalties from her bestselling book, My Beloved World (affiliate link). Maybe it’s time for her to upgrade from that perfectly nice but far from lavish D.C. condo.

But she’s still far from being able to purchase the home of her former boss, George Pavia, who hired Sotomayor after she left the Manhattan District Attorney’s office (and later promoted her to partner). The patrician Pavia, managing partner of the Pavia & Harcourt boutique firm, just sold his magnificent townhouse on the Upper East Side for $19.5 million.

Pavia’s former residence is an elegant five-story, red-brick, neo-Georgian townhouse. It sits on a quiet, tree-lined block between Fifth and Madison Avenues, just steps away from Central Park and luxury shopping.

It would be many a Manhattanite’s dream home. But it actually comes with a nightmarish history….

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I should be clear, this isn’t a story about a replica law school building made out of Lego pieces. I’m pretty sure a lot of people have already done that — maybe Nathan Sawaya, lawyer turned Lego artist. And this isn’t a story about a life-sized law school building made out of Lego pieces; I’m pretty sure some online law school has “neato” plans already underway for such a brick-and-mortar plastic-and-Krazy-Glue supplement to their accreditation application to the ABA.

No, this story is about a brand-new, modern, actually quite interesting-looking law school building, which just looks like it was made by a child Colossus playing with a box of interconnecting building blocks. The progressive urban planner in me says, “That’s actually pretty cool.” The righteous crusader in me asks, “Dear GOD, how much did that cost?”

And the legal blogger in me just really wants the name “Lego Law School” to stick around for a generation or two….

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Those who toil in Biglaw need to spend more time out of the office. But these are not the ideal circumstances.

A fire and power shutdown have forced at least three leading law firms out of their offices….

Note the UPDATE after the jump, regarding a fire at another top firm. What is going on this week in New York City?

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This site has a reputation for suggesting that law schools run students into debt and pocket the cash while providing less and less to their students. (I don’t have the time to find one story, but here’s every story Elie has ever written.) We have articles on increasing debt. We have features on the salaries of law school professors.

Some call the business model of law schools a scandal.

But you can’t really have a scandal without Senate investigations uncovering secret slush funds, right?

It looks like NYU Law School may have hit the Nixonian big time!

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Judge Judy makes partners look like paupers.

Don’t pee on her leg and tell her it’s raining (affiliate link). Instead, relieve yourself inside the powder room of Judge Judy’s former pied-à-terre.

Maybe it has a gold-plated urinal? If it doesn’t, it should. Isn’t $8.5 million for two bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms a bit steep?

Also steep: the $17,411 a month in common charges. That’s right, common charges, maintenance — not the mortgage, not the real estate taxes.

But the Honorable Judith Sheindlin, better known as “Judge Judy,” can afford it. How much does she make a year? And just how fabulous is this judicial diva’s former courtroom in the sky?

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Just take a compliance class, bro.

* This year, like every year before it, SCOTUS is saving the best cases (read: most controversial) for last. We’ll likely see opinions on voting rights, affirmative action, and gay marriage in June. [WSJ Law Blog]

* We know of at least one Biglaw firm that will be putting its increase in gross revenue to work. Boies Schiller is planning to open its first office outside of the United States in the “near-term.” [Am Law Daily]

* If you’d like to get paid under a terrorism insurance policy for your damages in the Boston bombings, you’ll have to wait; the bombings haven’t been certified as acts of terror yet. [National Law Journal]

* Mandatory pro bono work is now required for bar admission in New York, but it’s still not enough to close the justice gap. Now Chief Judge Lippman wants to give non-lawyers a chance to provide legal services. [New York Law Journal]

* Arizona Law recently made the announcement that interim dean Marc Miller has been instated as the school’s permanent dean. What’s not to like about a “new” dean and new tuition cuts? [UANews]

* As many of our readers know, the job market is rough, but apparently if you take some compliance classes in law school, you’ll magically become employable. Great success! [Corporate Counsel]

* Brooklyn Law, do you remember what your old dorm looked like? It’s different now that it’s been transformed into an apartment complex that’s no longer stained with the tears of law students. [Curbed]

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