Lawyerly Lairs

The polls remain open in our Lawyerly Lairs contest to find the Best Law Offices in America. If you haven’t done so already, you can review the eight finalists and cast your vote here.

The Georgia boutique of Bouhan, Williams & Levy took an early lead, thanks to their amazing offices in a restored Southern mansion. Right now, though, 1-800-LAW-FIRM is in first place. How many law firms have “walking tracks” and exercise rooms?

Due to the overwhelming response to our call for submissions, we were unable to include all of the great spaces that you shared with us. Today we’d like to recognize our “Honorable Mentions” — four firms that narrowly missed the final cut….

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As regular readers of Lawyerly Lairs know well, some attorneys have beautiful — and expensive — homes. As we’ve just learned from the impressive submissions in our contest to find the best law firm offices in America, many attorneys’ workplaces are no less spectacular.

With the help of Mary Kate Sullivan, our wonderful intern here at Above the Law, I’ve winnowed the large and impressive field to eight finalists. There’s nice diversity here, in terms of firms (Biglaw versus non-Biglaw); decor (traditional versus modern); and geography (seven different cities, located all over the country).

Let’s check them out, shall we?

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The law firm cafeteria is something of an anachronism. Having a large company mess hall where associates can grab a bite to eat without taking too much time to get lunch isn’t really necessary anymore. Nobody takes a “lunch hour” anymore. Associates can use Seamless and eat at their desks.

And we know partners aren’t eating in the firm cafeteria unless they are 80 years old and too busy to head to Peter Luger’s. No law firm cafeteria is nice enough to bring a client to; that’s why God created expense accounts.

But the cafeteria is still useful for secretaries and paralegals. At my old firm, the cafeteria was a great place to grab breakfast. At Debevoise, the cafeteria enjoys the best views of the block. We used to bring lawyers from Schulte Roth, which is housed on the lower floors at 919 Third Avenue, to show them our view (and to console them while they cried).

The point is, even as the Biglaw cafeteria has diminished relevance given our modern conveniences, you don’t want your firm perk to be disgusting. Last March, we learned that a number of Biglaw firms had received poor grades from the New York City Department of Health about the quality of their in-house cafeterias.

But it appears that Cravath’s food fortunes have significantly improved…

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If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain. Or Muhammad will just buy the mountain — for $18 million.

Check out our latest Lawyerly Lair. It features a 10,000-square-foot mansion, a 2,500-square-foot guesthouse, 48 acres of land, 13 formal gardens, a one-acre pond (with bridge), a swimming pool and spa….

And its own mountaintop. Did we mention the mountaintop?

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* Man brings knife to a gun fight with NYPD. I think we all know how that ended. [Huffington Post]

* The House has brought a civil compliant against Eric Holder. In other news, it’s an election year! [Blog of the Legal Times]

* Ah, the never-ending quest for the perfect suit for the female attorney. All of the jokes I have right now are sexist. So I won’t make one. But I’m thinking it. [Corporette]

* Golf, even mini-golf, remains an excellent way to network. [Asbury Park Press]

* It looks like the Oak Creek shootings are going to go down as a hate crime. I care less about why the shooter did it and more that he’s punished. [CNN]

* Stop-and-Frisk doesn’t so much work. [DNAinfo]

* Don’t forget to submit your awesome office for our Lawyerly Lairs contest. [Above the Law]

Some have compared the world of large law firms to a gilded cage. The lawyers who toil for Biglaw may earn big bucks, but in exchange for the pay, they spend thousands of hours stuck in the office, shackled to their desks, deriving all their sustenance from Seamless.

So whose gilded cage is the most golden, the most elegant, the most comfortable? Welcome to Above the Law’s first-ever Lawyerly Lairs contest: a quest to discover the best law firm offices in America.

What do mean by “best”? Who is eligible to enter? How can entries be submitted?

Read on for the official contest rules and nomination guidelines….

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* Chief Justice John Roberts, in his capacity as circuit justice for the Fourth Circuit, has given the green light — for the time being — to Maryland’s continued collection of DNA samples from people charged with violent felonies. [New York Times]

* Professor Dan Markel isn’t a fan of the practice, arguing that it “is yet another abuse of the presumption of innocence.” [PrawfsBlawg]

* In other Supreme Court news, the proponents of Prop 8′s ban on gay marriage have filed a petition for certiorari with the Court. [Arthur Leonard / Leonard Link]

* And in other gay marriage news, yet another federal judge — Judge Vanessa Bryant (D. Conn.), a Bush II appointee — has struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. [Chris Geidner / BuzzFeed]

A California litigatrix's lawyerly lair.

* Lawyerly Lairs: Emily Alexander’s beautiful, light-filled home is awash in color. There are no hunting prints in sight — even though she used to practice at Sullivan & Cromwell. [California Home + Design]

* The mother of a man who died during a police chase has sued the SFPD over her son’s accidentally shooting himself. Opines SFist: “It remains unclear to us why [Kenneth] Harding has been chosen to serve as a martyr, given his not-so-stellar record and the self-inflicted wound.” [SFist]

* Poor Professor Campos — does his self-loathing know no bounds? The prominent law professor, one of legal academia’s harshest (and most eloquent) critics, has now turned his powerful fire on baby boomers — of whom he is one. [Salon]

Accreditation Appeal²

* How many of Above the Law’s Scalia groupies tuned in to watch the opinionated Supreme Court justice on Piers Morgan last night? Now we all know what Justice Scalia’s favorite pasta dish is! [CNN]

* In other news, the Supreme Court’s approval rating has dropped even lower in the wake of the Affordable Care Act decision — just 41% of Americans are satisfied with SCOTUS. [New York Times]

* Dewey know if D&L is going to be able to pay out bonuses and retention fees? Not if the U.S. Trustee can help it. They’re not “cost effective or economically feasible” — go figure. [Bloomberg]

* City records for Boaz Weinstein’s and Tali Farhadian Weinstein’s $25.5M lawyerly lair have officially hit the books. Not too shabby for a federal prosecutor. [New York Observer]

* “I am not a racist. I am not a murderer.” George Zimmerman sat down for an interview with Sean Hannity to tell his side of the story. Prosecutors must be thanking Zimmerman’s attorney for this gift. [Orlando Sentinel]

* Duncan Law is appealing its accreditation appeal before the American Bar Association’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. This must be the three strikes approach to accreditation. [ABA Journal]

* Give this undocumented immigrant one of the documents he’s earned. Immigration law professors are lining up to support Sergio Garcia’s attempt to win admission to the California bar. [National Law Journal]

* California’s foie gras ban will remain in effect due to the lack of a “satisfactory explanation” as to why a TRO should be granted. Sorry, but wanting to eat classy French food isn’t a good enough reason. [Businessweek]

Justice Sotomayor is enjoying D.C. life. Last month, she attended a Nationals vs. Yankees baseball game. (Photo by an ATL tipster.)

A reader down in Washington, D.C., recently shared with us this amusing Facebook status update from one of his friends: “Gentrification (noun): When a Supreme Court justice moves into the [condo above] the first apartment you lived in DC, which used to share a block with an abandoned gas station / drug den and a ‘do not bring guns to [elementary] school’ sign.”

Who’s the justice in question, intrepidly moving into a gentrifying neighborhood? None other than Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The Wise Latina recently acquired a condo in D.C.’s uber-trendy U Street corridor.

How much did she pay for her new place? And what does it look like? Yes, we have pictures….

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Contrary to popular belief, many lawyers who toil in Biglaw actually enjoy what they do. This is especially true of partners (as opposed to associates who just pass through on their way to in-house or government opportunities). Some partners enjoy their work so much that they’d do it for free — or at least for much less than the millions they typically receive.

Of course, even if you find fulfillment in the work you do as a law firm partner, you can’t deny that the other benefits are nice. Being a Biglaw partner certainly allows you to provide an upscale lifestyle for your family. And it might permit you to enjoy an early retirement for yourself.

When you earn millions of dollars a year in partner profits, with lucrative retirement benefits on top of that (assuming your firm doesn’t do a Dewey), you don’t need to work until you’re 65 or 70. Instead, you can get an early start on your golden years, pursuing all of the hobbies and interests that you never had the chance to explore while billing 2000-plus hours a year.

That’s exactly what a retired Skadden corporate partner, James Freund, has been doing. Freund, who is now 77, retired from SASMF back in 1996, around the age of 61 (a little early, but not hugely so).

A few years ago, Freund scaled back his lifestyle. He traded in his $5 million townhouse for an apartment — one that cost a mere $3 million. Being a retired Skadden M&A partner is a tough life, but somebody’s got to live it….

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