Landlord/Tenant

The court will not countenance the gross overreaching evidenced under the facts and circumstances of this case in which the client is not even being billed for legal services. To move any court to put its imprimatur of approval on such practices is simply intolerable.

– Judge Frank Nervo, denying a Biglaw firm’s request for more than $126,000 in attorneys’ fees in a lawsuit over a $6,400 security deposit. Judge Nervo added that the firm spent “a grossly unnecessary amount of time” on simple tasks, including “research on the most basic and banal legal principles.”

(Which firm was on the receiving end of this benchslap? Find out after the jump, where we’ve posted the full opinion.)

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Roommate disputes with normal people are distressing. There are fights and recriminations, there are passive-aggressive maneuvers, there are stolen Cheerios and girlfriends.

Roommate disputes with lawyer people can include all of the above, but they almost always include dense, pedantic arguing. It’s like how in the wild, all the little cubs will play-fight each other to prepare for adulthood, only much, much less cool. It’s very annoying, not just because you have to fight about everything (“Sunday is your day to take out that trash”), but also because law students will drop legal-sounding terms into their arguments (“Yes, but pursuant to our agreement, my duty only vests if you have executed trash removal on Saturday night, which you did not, in the instant case.”). You think I’m joking, but live with other law students for a couple of months and tell me how long it takes before you attempt to murder them.

God forbid multiple law roommates end up disputing the correct interpretation or application of a lease agreement. Honestly, I’d rather wrestle for food with a bear than fight with a bunch of law roomies over something in the lease. Don’t believe me? Check out this seven-page email thread about the legal and metaphysical consequences of taking care of a friend’s rabbit….

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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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Celebrity opinions are the worst. On this, I think we can all agree. Unlike our pundit class, celebrities have very few advanced degrees and are never held to account for their prognostications. When a talking head on TV or the internet or even books gets something wrong, he’s fired immediately. The marketplace of ideas demands nothing less. Someone more inclined to bad puns would say that as a marketplace, being fired for being wrong is more than laissez… fair.

And so we hate celebrities mouthing off like they are wont to do because they don’t get fired from their jobs when they’re wrong. This is especially true of the sports world, where the famous people not being fired for voicing opinions also represent our favorite teams, like the Chicago Bears. Or even our least favorite teams, like the Syracuse Orangemen.

Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim spoke out about gun control this week because a bunch of children were murdered recently and a bunch of microphones were stuck in his face. The men holding the microphones said, “Hey Jim, let’s talk sports.”

Jim didn’t want to talk sports. Let’s talk sports….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sports Law, Spaw, Lorts: Assault Weapons and the 2-3 Zone”

Funny, if I told you that a prospective law student was taking out a mess of student loans in order to rent a reasonable apartment for three years of law school, people would react with a considered “meh.” It’s the way the system works. It’s expected that law students will finance part or all of their law school experience with debt — debt that is backed up by the federal government.

So, now if I tell you that a student is using public assistance to pay for housing while she’s in law school, does your reaction change?

If it does, you are what the scientists call a “Republican.”

If she’s eligible for public assistance, isn’t doing something like going to law school exactly what she’s “supposed” to do in order to one day not need public assistance?

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They took on six figures of (non-dischargeable) debt to go to law school, and now they hang their laundry in the street.

Most installments of Lawyerly Lairs, our inside look at the nests of legal eagles, involve residences (and occasionally offices) of utter fabulosity. Just look at our latest Lairs: a $5.9 million apartment on Park Avenue, a $4.6 million prewar coop on the Upper East Side, and a $1.7 million penthouse on the Upper West Side.

We realize that most Americans, or even most lawyers, don’t live in such luxury. And we’re interested in learning about how the other half lives. If you’d like to have your home featured in Lawyerly Lairs, even if it isn’t a million-dollar mansion, feel free to email us, subject line “Lawyerly Lairs.” (If you’re trying to sell your home, send us the listing; exposure to Above the Law’s large audience could be beneficial.)

We’ll get the 99 percent ball rolling with a look at two current law students who braved the brutal renters’ market here in New York. What school do they attend, and how did their hunt turn out?

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What’s the most sure-fire way to make money in a bad economy? Capitalize on the misery of others. As the Kobra Kai taught us, strike first, strike hard, no mercy, sir!

Today’s Legal Sweep the Leg Award goes to Kick’em Out Quick, a “One Stop Shop” for tenant evictions and collections based in Ogden, Utah. Kick’em Out Quick is an online marketing company that strives to drum up eviction numbers for member attorneys who pay for the privilege of bearing the Kick’em Out Quick name.

Kick’em Out Quick extends a helping hand to landlords, offering sympathy and understanding of the stresses that these everyday heroes must endure at the hands of nasty tenants. Even better, they help motivated lawyers make money in the process.

When there is blood in the water, the sharks will start circling. Kicking ’em out quick is only the beginning…

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If you have watched political campaigns all of your life, or if you are just a student of modern political history, you’ll notice that the poor are rarely talked about on the campaign trail. We can talk about the rich (or at least our so-called envy of them), and the middle class is like the pretty girl in school who thinks she’s well-liked but really everybody just wants to screw. But you rarely hear candidates talk anymore about any kind of national commitment or shared responsibility to help the poor and destitute. (John Edwards tried for a minute, but… see screwing analogy above.)

Our politicians apparently concern themselves with helping only those people who have “worked hard” and “played by the rules.” We have Reagan to thank for that.

But what about the “undeserving” poor? What about the lazy, the shiftless, the ignorant masses yearning to just get by? Is it right that we consign them to backbreaking poverty simply because they don’t vote and they’re easy to pick on? I went to Catholic school just long enough to learn that we’re supposed to have compassion for all of God’s children, not just the people whom it’s easy to put into a campaign commercial.

I’m just talking, of course. Other than giving a dollar to the occasional panhandler, I’m unwilling to get any skin in the game to actually help the truly disadvantaged in this country. Why? Well, I don’t want to end up getting taken advantage of, like the woman who let homeless people stay in her house for Christmas and now can’t get them to leave….

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Elie wasn't the only ATL writer who dressed as a pirate this year.

Unfortunately, ATL editor emeritus Kashmir Hill has never been molested. But I think she’s getting rogered-but-good by her landlord.

Kash, who recently moved to D.C., sent us pictures of her Halloween party this year because, well, I asked, and one of the cool things about my job is that I can generally demand that women send in pictures of themselves without it sounding too creepy.

She had a pirate-themed party. But when she showed me why she went with that theme, my lawyer brain kicked in and instead of a suggestively dressed Kash, I saw a potential lawsuit in the making.

Since ATL readers have been so helpful with my own landlord/tenant issues, I thought you guys might be able to provide Kash with some unsolicited advice.

And yes, I’ll show you her Halloween costume in the bargain….

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Elie the bloggAARRRR!

Well, I’m alive. And, more importantly for you guys, I can see. Which means I can resume some of my writing duties. Mwahahaha.

But before we get back to our regular reindeer games, I need to ask you for some help. Without going into too many details, the picture on the right captures me on the first day of my recovery. Lined up behind my head are all the drugs I was told to take to get me to the point where I could half sit up and kind of smile ten days after I initially presented with “a cough and some labored breathing.”

Trust me, being a patient in an episode of House is no fun. The whole “nearly killing the patient three times” thing gets old quick. For regular watchers of the show, my episode was one of those: “He has this and that??? And the stuff we were giving him for the first thing exacerbated the other thing he had? My doctor, you’re brilliant because nobody could have possibly expected one person to have two things go wrong at the same time!” And like a patient in one of those episodes, I’m pretty thankful for my doctors overall. I can talk. I have still have two eyes. They figured it out in the end. No med mal suit coming from me (assuming no changes for the worse).

But, I was a lawyer. And I want to sue somebody because health care is not free and finding things to blame is just good sport. I want to go after my landlord, but I need some help in making it all fit together.

Let me explain….

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