New York City

Edward Hayes (on The Charlie Rose Show)

What draws people to the practice of law? Some do it for the paycheck, some do it for the prestige, and some do it for the excitement and fun of it all.

Veteran New York litigator Edward Hayes belongs firmly in the final camp. Although he has amassed fame and fortune over almost four decades of practicing law, his legal career reflects a quest for adventure.

And what adventures Hayes has had. After graduating from the University of Virginia and Columbia Law School, he joined the Bronx District Attorney’s office, where he prosecuted homicides (which there was no shortage of in the Bronx in the 1970s). He then launched his own practice, handling civil and criminal matters for such clients as the estate of Andy Warhol, notorious “Mafia cop” Stephen Caracappa, acclaimed architect Daniel Libeskind, actor Robert De Niro, celebrity editrices Anna Wintour and Tina Brown, billionaire publisher Si Newhouse, and then-paramours Sean Combs and Jennifer Lopez (after they were arrested together back in 1999).

Eddie Hayes has even found his way into literature. He served as the basis for Tommy Killian, Sherman McCoy’s defense lawyer in Tom Wolfe’s great novel, Bonfire of the Vanities. Wolfe dedicated the book to Hayes, a close friend of his for many years.

This past summer, I enjoyed the privilege of spending a day with Ed Hayes. We met up at Penn Station and took the train out to his vacation home in Bellport, Long Island, where we enjoyed a leisurely lunch, dining outdoors and overlooking the water. (There are Lawyerly Lairs-style photos of his house, after the jump.)

During our time together, Hayes reminisced about his extraordinary life in the law, offered career advice for fellow lawyers, and showed me how to properly prepare a caprese salad….

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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.)

A 'best place to work': outside, when the weather's nice.

Since 2008, Crain’s has been producing a list of the 50 Best Places to Work in New York City. Each year, a few law firms manage to sneak their way onto the list, much like what we’ve seen thus far with Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list.

This year, seven law firms made Crain’s list, and as we told you back in January, only four made Fortune’s. Three firms are new to Crain’s list, while the other four moved up or down in the rankings. Just two of those firms overlap between Crain’s and Fortune’s lists.

It appears that congratulations and condolences are both in order. So, which law firms are considered the cream of the crop in New York City?

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Last week, we asked you to pick your choice for the worst law school in New York. It turned out to be one of most active polls on the site. So many of you had strong opinions.

Your choice for the worst law school was overwhelming — so strong that one would hope that the administration would notice and do something to improve the school’s reputation in the community.

But the battle for the worst school in the five boroughs was heated. Let’s check out the results….

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It’s an intriguing question. There are 11 ABA-accredited law schools in New York City and Long Island (I’m including Pace, even though the law school is in White Plains). Personally I love them all. Seriously, any one of them can produce a story about great idiocy that I can make fun of on the internet. That’s all I really care about.

But law students in New York argue over the strengths and weaknesses of their law schools all the time. Or at the very least they often mutter about the idiots across town under their breath.

While some students like to argue that they go to the “best” law school in New York, that’s a less interesting question. And there are so many Yale students running around town (New Haven is only 90 minutes away), so saying you go to the best law school in New York feels a little bit like saying you’re the tallest midget.

It’s a bit douchy to argue over who’s best, but it’s pretty fun to argue over which law school is the worst. Nobody thinks that they go to the absolute worst law school in the city. But that means one student body is dead wrong.

Let’s find out who!

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Mayor Bloomberg has reason to smile today.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg can have his way with the Occupy Wall Street protesters. According to the Associated Press, Justice Michael Stallman of New York Supreme Court just shot down the Temporary Restraining Order sought by the protesters against Mayor Bloomberg.

Let’s hope everybody keeps their cool.

The ruling on the TRO appears below…

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November 15th, 2011, there was a riot in the streets, tell me where were you? While you were at home watching your T.V., I was participating in some anarchy.

Well, there wasn’t really a riot in the streets. And I wasn’t really participating in it so much as taking the 5 train to work today. But I did bump into some would-be Occupy Wall Street protesters looking to join the movement after the main group was evicted from Zuccotti Park under the cover of darkness early this morning. The people on the train asked for my legal advice.

I laughed — then told them I could do them one better. Let’s see if we can’t crowdsource a legal recourse for the Occupy protesters now that big bad Bloomberg has put his jackboot on the movement….

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Kim Kardashian

* Deborah Batts, the first openly gay judge to serve on the federal bench, got married this weekend. We hope she doesn’t become the first openly gay federal judge to get divorced. [New York Times]

* Things are getting hairy for Kim Kardashian, and not just because she’s Armenian. A hair removal company is suing her, saying she’s lying about how she gets all of that hair off her body. [Fox News]

* Lori David: she’s every teenage boy’s dream, and every mother’s nightmare. A hot Texas mom has been banned from the internet after sexting naked pictures to her son’s friend. [Daily Mail]

Let’s see what else the ladies are up to this morning….

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Is $160,000 a 'garbage' salary?

There’s an interesting post up on Constitutional Daily by The Philadelphia Lawyer. It’s a repack from a 2007 article arguing that salaries for first-year associates should go up to $190,000 a year.

And he’s right.

I know, I know — most Americans are still feeling the effects of a terrible economy. Occupy Wall Street is about to take pitchforks to those who are well-off in this country. Yada, yada, we’ll get back to the very sad story of America momentarily.

But you know who has done well over the last five years or so? Law firms. Especially Biglaw firms. Especially partners at Biglaw firms. Just look at the Am Law reports on profits per partner and revenue per lawyer. Firms are making money, more than they were in 2007.

Yet the associate salary scale hasn’t seen a raise for almost five years. And bonuses are down compared to 2007. Is it time for firms to start sharing the wealth?

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I’m starting to think that staff attorneys are being discriminated against because they are staff attorneys.

Today Thomson Reuters reports that a racial discrimination lawsuit has been filed against Quinn Emanuel by a former staff attorney. The plaintiff, who is African-American, claims that she was given less desirable work than her white colleagues and that she was forced to work with a person she “feared,” as retaliation for complaining about her treatment at the firm.

I’m not sure if racism really fits into Quinn’s work hard/play hard firm culture. I feel like the only color Quinn cares about is green, as in, “You’ve billed a ton of hours today despite being all kinds of hungover, I think you’re turning green”….

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