Lawyerly Lairs

Say farewell to 4 Times Square.

Say farewell to 4 Times Square.

Biglaw is getting less big when it comes to office space. As we recently mentioned, law firms are spending less on their real estate. They’re renting smaller spaces, often outside the central downtown areas they’ve traditionally favored. As the American Lawyer put it, “[a]s a result of tightening market conditions, some firms are gravitating to ‘unorthodox’ locations in areas right outside the central districts they usually prefer.”

Consider the move that Skadden Arps just announced for its Manhattan headquarters. It’s going to an area that is certainly “unorthodox,” perhaps downright icky….

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4 Times Square

4 Times Square

Today’s Lawyerly Lairs column is about a Skadden associate’s search for a home (other than 4 Times Square, where he surely spends most of his waking hours). The firm requires sacrifices of its lawyers, but it also offers rich rewards, including generous pay and ample prestige. There’s a reason that Skadden is a top 10 firm in our new law firm rankings.

Working at Skadden gives you the ability to buy a Manhattan apartment while you’re still in your early 30s. The home we’re about to view is not a lavish lawyerly lair, but it’s a perfectly respectable starter apartment.

Let’s have a peek, shall we?

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Melvyn Weiss

The rise and fall of Melvyn Weiss is one of the most dramatic stories within the legal profession. The Bronx-born Weiss, a graduate of NYU Law School, founded Milberg Weiss, which went on to become the nation’s top class-action securities firm. Weiss and his partners became millionaires many times over.

But it turned out that the firm rested on shaky ground. In 2008, Mel Weiss pleaded guilty to participating in a kickback scheme that helped him get clients and cases. Weiss got sentenced to two and a half years in federal prison and had to pay more than $10 million in forfeitures and fines. Milberg Weiss itself had to pay $75 million to settle charges relating to the racketeering conspiracy.

Too bad Weiss had to do prison time. House arrest would have been pretty sweet in his waterfront mansion on Long Island’s Gold Coast, now on the market for $18.8 million….

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I know Lat usually does the Lawyerly Lairs. Lat likes to see how fabulous people live. I’m less interested in that. My thing is more about mocking those less fortunate than me.

When the tip came in — “please help this poor public defender unload this real estate” — you can guess which one of us was more interested. PD real estate? Is it a Lincoln Continental? Is it a houseboat floating just off of Riker’s?

Sadly, for comedic purposes, the tipster has a legitimate house. Plumbing and doors and furniture that isn’t made of cardboard. Turns out the tipster is a federal public defender instead of a local, cannon-fodder PD. But, if you look really closely, you can see the signs of a person who works for clients who can’t afford anybody else…

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Contrary to the cliché, sometimes the acorn does fall far from the tree. Very, very far.

Let’s play a game of word association. If I were to toss out “ACORN” — as in the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, not the nut — what would come to mind?

Controversy? Certainly.

Scandal? Sure.

People in need of low-income housing? Why not.

You probably wouldn’t blurt out, “27-foot-wide, $21 million townhouse in the West Village”….

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In today’s Lawyerly Lairs column, we’ll step inside the beautiful home of a Biglaw partner — a name partner at an Am Law and Vault 100 firm, in fact. There aren’t many of those folks still around, since most of the nation’s largest and most prestigious firms are so old. Paul Cravath died in 1940, in case you’re wondering.

But there are a few Biglaw name partners around — at (relatively) young, super-profitable firms, like Wachtell Lipton, Quinn Emanuel, and Boies Schiller. And these lawyers own some fabulous real estate.

Which they sometimes put on the market. Let’s look at the next item up for bids: the D.C. home of a leading litigator, on the market for $4.85 million….

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Make fun of the University of Chicago Law School’s law-and-economics focus all you want. Their graduates make good use of the training, enjoying tremendous success in the business world. Some of them go on to become billionaires — and then make eight-figure gifts to their alma mater.

The legal eagle featured in today’s Lawyerly Lairs coverage isn’t a billionaire, but he has done very, very well for himself, in both business and politics. And real estate: he just sold his urban mansion for more than $11 million.

You’ll feel pangs of envy when you find out how little he paid for it — and when you see what a beautiful property it is….

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285 Central Park West

Lawyers and their real estate transactions continue to make the news. Last weekend’s New York Times, for example, chronicled the hunt of a former Cahill Gordon associate and her husband for an apartment large enough for themselves and their three children. Boji Wong and Benjamin Berkman ultimately found what they were looking for, paying just a shade under $3.8 million for a 2,200-square-foot, three-bedroom co-op in tony Tribeca.

For our latest Lawyerly Lairs column, though, we’re going to take a trip uptown. We’ll check out the beautiful pre-war apartment that a noted entertainment lawyer and his wife, a high-profile journalist and writer, recently sold for a tidy sum — $5.3 million, to be more precise….

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Julius Towers

Our latest Lawyerly Lairs column is about a gay Filipino lawyer’s hunt for a new home on the island of Manhattan. (No, it’s not about me; I’m quite happy where I am, and I don’t own any dogs.)

Julius Towers, a 36-year-old intellectual property lawyer for Colgate-Palmolive, recently relocated from Queens to Manhattan. His search was complicated by a couple of canines: Felix, a Shiba Inu, and Athena, a golden retriever-poodle cross.

What was Towers’s budget, and where exactly did he wind up?

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Chief Judge Loretta Preska

According to Black’s Law Dictionary (affiliate link), a judicial diva is “a particularly confident, skilled, and physically attractive female judge.” By this definition, Chief Judge Loretta Preska (S.D.N.Y.) is a judicial diva. She is highly regarded, as both a judge and an administrator, and she never looks anything short of fabulous.

I’ve been fascinated by Judge Preska for years. I had this to say about her back in 2004 at my first website, Underneath Their Robes: “Magnificent. Tall, thin, elegant. Great bone structure, perfectly coiffed silver hair. Note to self: nominate for superhotties contest next year?”

This gorgeous judge now owns a gorgeous apartment. Chief Judge Preska and her husband, a partner at one of the nation’s most profitable law firms, just paid almost $9 million for a penthouse apartment on the Upper East Side….

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