New York City

345 West 13th Street

Meet Michael Graffagna, who’s one impressive MoFo… partner. The Harvard Law School graduate, admitted to practice in New York, California, and Japan, heads up the project finance practice at Morrison & Foerster.

Graffagna is now resident in the firm’s Tokyo office. So he and his wife, Midori Graffagna, recently sold their Manhattan pied-à-terre. And oh what a pied-à-terre it was — larger than most Manhattanites’ primary residences.

How large are we talking? How much did the Graffagnas get for it? And which celebrity lives upstairs?

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Reema Bajaj

* In his year-end report, Chief Justice Roberts politely asked Congress to make it rain on the federal judiciary in fiscal year 2014, because “[t]he future would be bleak” without additional funding. [Reuters]

* Utah finally asked for Supreme Court intervention in its quest to stop gay couples from marrying, but Justice Sotomayor wants a response from the other side before she weighs in. WWSSD? [BuzzFeed]

* Perhaps Justice Sotomayor saw the humor in this: she just gave a group of nuns a temporary reprieve from having to give out birth control to a bunch of women who have taken vows of chastity. [Bloomberg]

* Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego Steven Davis? Oh boy, Dewey have some news for you! The failed firm’s former chairman is now the chief legal representative for Ras al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates. [WSJ Law Blog]

* “The Second Amendment does not preclude reasonable regulation.” A judge upheld the majority of New York’s new gun laws as constitutional. Opponents are ready to lock and load on appeal. [New York Times]

* Just because your law school isn’t ranked, it doesn’t mean you can’t dream big. Case in point: one of this year’s Skadden Fellows will graduate from John Marshall (Chicago) this spring. [National Law Journal]

* Reema Bajaj, the attorney who pleaded guilty to a prostitution charge, decided that she wasn’t in the mood to ride this Johnson any longer. Like her panties, the case has been dropped. [Daily Chronicle]

Since 2008, Crain’s New York Business has produced a list of the Best Places to Work in New York City. Each year, a few law firms sneak onto the list, much like the situation with Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list.

This year, seven law firms made Crain’s list, while only four made Fortune’s list, as of January 2012. Just two firms overlap between Crain’s and Fortune’s lists.

Which ones are considered tops in the city that never sleeps? Let’s find out…

Please note the UPDATE to this post below.

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The Beresford (at right)

Seven years ago this month, M&A lawyer Gregory Ostling was elected to the partnership of Wachtell Lipton, effective January 2007. In our story about the news, we referred to Wachtell as “obscenely profitable and dazzlingly prestigious.”

Wachtell routinely tops the Am Law 100 rankings in profits per partner and the Vault rankings of law firm prestige. In 2011, according to the American Lawyer, WLRK enoyed PPP of $4.975 million.

Because the firm has a single-tier partnership and is fairly lockstep (with just a handful of senior partners off the lockstep), even junior partners at Wachtell do very well for themselves. So maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that a relatively young partner like Greg Ostling just bought not one but two multimillion-dollar apartments at the Beresford — one acquired from a famous athlete, and one from an heiress — which presumably he’s going to combine into a single fabulosity-oozing residence….

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There’s a general feeling that if you sue New York City, you’re going to get paid. Certainly, if you sue NYPD, you can expect a settlement. Part of that is because the police have probably actually violated or brutalized you. Part of that is because the police department would rather pay you hush money than have a high profile exploration of their gestapo tactics.

The city’s litigious retreat doesn’t extend to the MTA. One would think that being hit by a train would put you on-track for a big settlement (did you see what I did there?). But apparently not, the MTA will fight you tooth and nail, all the way through trial and appeals, to prevent you from getting money from subway accidents. The city’s lawyers will run a train on you in court (yes, I’m having fun, thanks for asking).

And the city is probably right to do this. Have you really thought about how stupid most people are behaving when they’re hit by the subway?

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* The Supreme Court might have dismissed the Oklahoma abortion case as improvidently granted, but not to worry, because the high court may yet get the chance to abort a woman’s right to choose in this new case from Texas. [New York Times]

* Wherein Justice Scalia seems highly concerned about toupees: yesterday, Supreme Court justices put their fashion sense to the test when trying to determine what ought to count as clothing under the Fair Labor Standards Act. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* The Senate is forging ahead with the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, but the bill will likely fail in the House because discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is still cool with John Boehner. [CBS News]

* Wherefore art thou, ladness? According to the latest PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, profits per partner at top firms in the U.K. are behind profits per partner in the U.S. America, f**k yeah! [Businessweek]

* Bill de Blasio, the Democratic candidate in the NYC mayoral race, apparently has “deep ties” to Gibson Dunn, the firm behind Citizens United. Gather round, conspiracy theorists. [International Business Times]

* An InfiLaw school is changing its name to Arizona Summit Law. How kind to tip law students off to the fact that even if they climb all the way to the top, there’s nowhere to go but down. [National Law Journal]

Brains Billable hours…

* Let’s get ready to rumble! Senate Democrats are threatening to go “nuclear” on existing filibuster rules if Senate Republicans decide to band together to block Patricia Millett’s nomination to the D.C. Circuit. [New York Times]

* AMR Corp. and US Airways are reportedly trying to broker a deal with the Department of Justice that would allow the airlines’ merger to go through. And this is the room full of people who care. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Proskauer Rose and the zombie corpse of Dewey & LeBoeuf received a Halloween treat from Judge Martin Glenn in the MF Global case. The firms will each be receiving a combined $9 million for their work. [Am Law Daily]

* Twitter is facing a $125 million fraud suit filed by two financial firms claiming that the social media giant had them organize a private sale of shares and then canceled it. #OhShiat #LawyerUp [Businessweek]

* Jill Bjorkholm Easter, the lawyer accused of planting drugs on a PTA volunteer at her son’s school, has pleaded guilty to false imprisonment. Her hubby’s trial is next week. [L.A. Now / Los Angeles Times]

* She’s got the right to remain topless: Holly Van Voast, the photographer famous for roaming the streets of New York with breasts bared, settled a lawsuit against the city for $40,000. [New York Daily News]

* “Ed,” the anonymous editor of the defunct Blawg Review site, RIP. [Trial Warrior Blog; Simple Justice]

If it’s good enough for Justice Thomas….

Justice Clarence Thomas famously travels around the country over the summer in his 40-foot recreational vehicle (RV). Since 1999, Justice Thomas and his wife Ginni have visited some 27 states in their RV. According to Mrs. Thomas, “it’s a wonderful life.” The Thomases often park overnight in Wal-Mart parking lots. As Justice Thomas notes, “you can get a little shopping in, see part of real America. It’s fun!”

If spending night after night in an RV is good enough for an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court, it should be good enough for a young lawyer, right? In the latest installment of Lawyerly Lairs, we visit with a Biglaw associate who lives in an RV down by the river….

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101 Central Park West: home to celebrities, a billionaire’s daughter, and an in-house counsel.

Earlier this year, we wrote about a commendable initiative at Pace Law School called New Directions. It’s a program devoted to helping lawyers who have left the profession, many of them stay-at-home mothers, get back into the world of practice.

The New York Times profiled a few of the program’s graduates. One of them, Jeannette Rossoff, graduated from Boston University School of Law, worked at Shearman & Sterling for a few years, then left the workforce for twenty years to raise four children. After her children were grown, she completed the New Directions program, interned for the New York State attorney general’s office, then landed an in-house job with a nonprofit.

It’s nice that Mrs. Rossoff is back to practicing law, but it certainly wasn’t necessary. If you can afford to live in a $12 million apartment with monthly maintenance charges of almost $7,000, “work” is optional….

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‘Get those hands away from my indentures!’

Having a kid presents challenges. You have to pick out a sensible and legally appropriate name for the child. You have to care for the kid — or pay someone else to do so. You have to keep your child safe, which isn’t always easy.

And these are just the basics. What if you want to enrich your kid’s existence with sports and after-school classes and musical instruments?

As it turns out, there’s an app for that — created by a lawyer, of course….

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