New York

This column, Lawyerly Lairs, is all about real estate voyeurism. But today’s story emphasizes the voyeurism over the real estate. Let’s hope there are some Rear Window fans among you.

In Cobble Hill, one of Brooklyn’s loveliest and leafiest precincts, the “sexy shower” of one attorney abode has got the neighborhood talking. Lawyers are often focused on minimizing exposure, but neighbors claim that’s not the case for the owners of a beautiful, multimillion-dollar townhouse.

Let’s see what all the fuss is about. It seems that there’s more to this story than meets the eye….

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200 Chambers Street: architect’s rendering.

If you were to ask lawyers to name some lucrative practice areas, immigration law would probably not top many lists. While there are some elite firms that do immigration law for corporations or high-net-worth individuals (and charge a pretty penny for their services), many immigration lawyers are more dedicated to helping their clients over their bank accounts.

But some immigration lawyers with their own firms do very, very well for themselves. Take, for example, the one who just sold his Tribeca apartment for a cool $3.6 million — to a pair of poker champs, so presumably they got a fair deal.

The buyers might have paid a reasonable price, considering the fabulosity of the unit. But the seller still earned a seven-figure profit on the transaction….

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[T]he city’s highest officials have turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner. In their zeal to defend a policy that they believe to be effective, they have willfully ignored overwhelming proof that the policy of targeting “the right people” is racially discriminatory and therefore violates the United States Constitution.

– Judge Shira Scheindlin (S.D.N.Y.), in a ruling declaring that the New York Police Department’s hotly debated stop-and-frisk tactics violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.

(Continue reading to see Judge Scheindlin’s glorious 195-page opinion. It’s a legal document that should be on every lawyer’s required reading list.)

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325 West 52nd Street: modest on the outside, fabulous on the inside.

These are challenging times for print journalism. The Boston Globe, which the New York Times acquired in 1993 for $1.1 billion, recently sold for $70 million (or perhaps negative $40 million, as Matt Yglesias suggests). Jeff Bezos just bought the Washington Post for $250 million, a fraction of its former worth (and he may have paid four times its true value).

But print journalism was good to many people for many years. In the glory days of magazine writing, publications would pay several dollars a word for features that were thousands of words long. These generous fees might explain how a prominent magazine journalist amassed enough cash to buy a four-bedroom apartment Manhattan, which he recently sold to a law firm associate for just under $2 million.

That’s a sizable chunk of change for a young lawyer. How many sixth-year associates can afford $2 million apartments? Let’s learn more of the facts….

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A few months back, we covered New York State’s unfortunate decision to engage in base IP trolling. The state farmed out its rights to a property rights management firm, who then started bringing outrageous claims alleging violations of Albany’s trademark on “I ♥ NY.” Specifically, the firm in question not only pressured a coffeehouse into ending its “I [coffee cup] NY” campaign, but then asked for an accounting of the profits to calculate a damages claim.

Sadly, New York has not since exited the trolling world.

A couple weeks back, a new set of attorneys for the New York State Department of Economic Development — the agency holding the trademark — sent a threatening letter to a model train manufacturer.

And the manufacturer fired back in kind…

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Ed. note: We are having an Above the Law retreat this afternoon, so we may be less prolific than usual today. We will return to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.

* “I think I am now the hardest-working justice. I wasn’t until David Souter left us.” Justice Ginsburg celebrates her twentieth year on the high bench in true diva style. [USA Today]

* Sorry, EA, the Ninth Circuit thought your First Amendment free expression defense to allegedly stealing college sports players’ likenesses was a load of hooey. [Wall Street Journal]

* “It’s a decision that clearly favors the merchants.” A federal judge gave the Fed a spanking in a ruling on its cap for debit card fees earned by banks after consumer swipes. [DealBook / New York Times]

* “What makes this discriminatory? I don’t think there’s anything in Title 7 that says an employer has to be consistent.” Ropes & Gray’s “token black associate” had his day in court. [National Law Journal]

* The firm that outed J.K. Rowling as author of “The Cuckoo’s Calling” will make a charitable donation as an apology — getting the book to the bestseller’s list wasn’t charitable enough. [New York Times]

* As the bar exam draws to a close today, here’s something to consider: 12,250 people signed up to take the test in New York alone. Are there jobs out there for them? Best of luck! [New York Law Journal]

* The feds want to make a better return on their investment on law student loans. Perhaps it’s time for those good old gainful employment regulations. [Student Loan Ranger / U.S. News & World Report]

* Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro is expected to speak at his sentencing hearing today, where a judge will decide if a term of life in prison plus 1,000 years is appropriate punishment for him. [CBS News]

* Under the leadership of emergency manager Kevyn Orr, Detroit is now the biggest U.S. city to declare bankruptcy in history. Unfortunately, not even the strict Jones Day dress code could save them. [Am Law Daily]

* As one of our columnists David Mowry told us weeks ago, New York wants to close the justice gap by looking to the state’s best untapped resources for pro bono work: in-house counsel. [New York Law Journal]

* It turns out the “new employer survey” to be used by U.S. News is really just the old employer survey that’s been used in the rankings since 1990. How incredibly anticlimactic. [Morse Code / U.S. News & World Report]

* Law schools are officially ready to scrape the bottom of the barrel when it comes to filling their classes. Some are now accepting first-time June LSAT scores for fall admission. [National Law Journal]

* Our managing editor, David Lat, comes to the defense of fictional representations of the law, but seeing as he’s writing a fictional legal novel, we think he’s kind of biased. [Room for Debate / New York Times]

* Mobsters really don’t like rats, and it looks like someone who was planning to testify against Whitey Bulger may have been whacked after having been dropped from the prosecution’s witness list. [CNN]

I feel like everybody complains about the place where they take the bar exam, and everybody is right. It’s like that line in Office Space where Ron Livingston says that every day is worse than the last, so every day is the worst day of his life. Every test center is the worst test center in the country because that’s the test center you are in, or if you are lucky, that’s the test center you were in that one time.

Sure, we’ve done stories about people who have taken the bar in a barn, and I imagine that taking the bar in an earthquake zone is pretty terrible, but for me, the worst test center is the Jacob Javits Convention Center on the West Side of Manhattan.

It’s cold even when it’s hot outside, it’s ugly, and it’s cavernous. It leaks. It’s just an altogether horrible place to spend two days taking the most important test of your life.

And there’s no food [cue Walrus music]. But at least that is about to get better…

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In case you’re not already well aware, a punishing heat wave has been pummeling the East Coast for days. It is freaking HOT out. There’s nothing quite like walking outside of an air-conditioned building and getting punched in the face with a burst of swelteringly humid air. Seriously, there hasn’t been a single day this week when the temperature hasn’t reached the upper 90s. People — especially in New York — are pissed off in general that they have to be alive and function as human beings right now.

You can imagine how pleased these folks must be when they have to attend to their own legal wranglings during this time of extreme weather. Because if you like the justice system, then you’re going to LOVE it when you’re dripping with sweat inside of a courthouse.

What better way to soothe the already angry mob than to throw bed bugs into the mix?

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I wrote last week about my participation on a statewide panel on in-house attorney registration and pro bono work. As stated, Chief Judge Lippman and Judge Graffeo of the New York Court of Appeals, are spearheading the effort to have all New York in-house counsel, who are not admitted in New York, register with the courts. The State Legislature has gone further and has passed legislation making it a felony to fail to so register. In other words, starting November 1 of this year, failure to register can get you a charge of unlicensed practice of law (“UPL”). The resulting comments to this news ranged from snarky to ignorant. My suggestion to those that this upsets would be to suck it up, because the times they are a-changing.

As attorneys admitted in New York, we knew what we were signing up for when we joined the Bar. Pro bono work is a duty, not something to be swept under the rug with a “too busy, sorry.” An estimated 2.3 million people going unrepresented in New York is not only sad, but unnecessary. And law firms can only pick up so much of the slack. They have their own issues with pro bono, but at least give lip service to attempting to assist. In-house counsel are an untapped reservoir of capable attorneys who can at least act as a drop in the bucket of a pool of folks in need of representation…

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