NYC

'So then I said to them, 'We have, like, a staggered board AND a poison pill. So suck on that!''

The halls are alive with… the sound of vermin? As we’ve mentioned earlier today, some top law firms (and even one top law school) are experiencing problems with rodents, insects, and other pests.

And, unfortunately, some of these critters have crept into company canteens. Thanks to New York City’s controversial system of rating restaurants, in which establishments receive letter grades based on their health and sanitation violations (or lack thereof), we know which law firm cafeterias are worth patronizing (and which ones are best avoided).

Let’s take a look at which Biglaw behemoths have the best — and the buggiest — dining rooms….

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As much as some people glorify being a “Jack of all trades,” the truth is that in order to succeed, most professionals have to specialize. After all, the full idiom is actually “Jack of all trades, master of none.”

At a certain point in a person’s career, if he really wants to go somewhere, he must become an expert at something specific and be able to do that one thing better than anyone else. No one wants to get complacent, but at some point work hopefully becomes comfortable.

And that’s what makes Judge Ann Pfau’s story so intriguing and unique. The 64-year-old was, until recently, the chief administrative judge for the State of New York. But late last year, after massive budget cuts, the lifelong administrator ended up as a trial judge, “in the gray courthouse that hulks next to Brooklyn Borough Hall like some weird tribute to bleak Soviet architecture.”

Talk about an unexpected career move…

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Garden Place: one of the loveliest blocks in Brooklyn (or all of New York City, for that matter). If you have $10 million to spare, you can live here too.

A friend of mine recently made partner at a top New York law firm. A senior partner called to offer congratulations: “Now you can finally move out of Brooklyn!”

But my friend doesn’t want to move out of Brooklyn — and with good reason. Over the past few years, what was once viewed as a dangerous, dirty, and downmarket borough has become hot, happening, and high-end. It’s not for nothing that GQ famously dubbed Brooklyn “the coolest city in the planet.”

Brooklyn may be newly hip (and increasingly expensive), but some people have known about its charms for years. Take this partner at a leading New York law firm, a longtime resident, who has placed his Brooklyn Heights townhouse on the market — for an eight-figure sum….

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If I were in charge, people would look forward to getting one of these.

For my entire life, Republicans have been telling me government doesn’t work. It’s not true, government works just fine: taxes get collected, snow gets removed, communism gets toppled.

Government works, it’s just extremely inefficient. It’s bureaucratic. It’s unable to effectively deal with exceptions. It wastes time.

The waste of time is an unforgivable sin to most Americans. We believe that time is money. We believe our time is our own. We hate when somebody else wastes our time. When the state does it — at the DMV, or at the post office — we’re likely to blow a gasket.

Watching people’s faces in the jury room is like watching time itself being ripped away from people. And half of the people in here have the Liam Neeson face like they’re about to talk to the time thieves and say: “I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”

Does jury duty have to be like this?

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I have successfully avoided jury duty since I moved back to New York in 2003, but this week they finally caught up with me. This week, I’ve had to perform my civic responsibility of sitting in judgment of my peers (like I don’t do that enough already).

Sorry, I had to “be available” to sit in judgement of my peers. Nobody is ever going to pick me for a jury. I blog about law for a living, hold two Harvard degrees, and have a checkered past. I’m not getting impaneled. Instead, I was just looking forward to the rare business day when I didn’t have to invent an opinion or listen to “the internet” pontificate on my weight.

Then the lady who seemed to be in charge of the proceedings told me that I was looking forward to three days of that. I went to protest, but Nurse Ratched told me to sit down and wait for my lobotomy. So i started paying attention to my surroundings — because blogging is how I cope with the slings and arrows of outrageous people asking me to behave like a normal person.

I’ll deal more directly with Nurse Ratched at another time. Today I got an up-close look at the voir dire process in a criminal trial. While I was not picked, I feel like my McMurphy-esque fingerprints will be all over the case.

Let’s take a look inside our clearly broken jury system…

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Remember when Biglaw associates in New York got paid more than Biglaw associates everywhere else because it costs more money to live in New York than anywhere else? Yeah, those days are long gone. A few months ago, we pointed out that the NALP buying power index ranked the purchasing power of New York associates 42nd nationwide.

Maybe you didn’t believe NALP’s numbers?

Well, today we offer more evidence that if you are an associate working and living in New York, you are a chump. You are paying a higher cost of living than anywhere else in the country, and you’re not getting paid any more for the effort. In fact, if you work at Morrison & Foerster, you might be getting a smaller bonus just because you work in New York….

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Greg Kelly

On January 26, we mentioned in Non-Sequiturs that Greg Kelly, the son of Ray Kelly, New York City’s police commissioner, had been accused of rape. Today, we have news that the popular television host has been cleared — he won’t even face charges.

When word of the rape accusation first hit the presses, all we knew was that it had allegedly taken place at a “lower Manhattan law firm.” Tipsters and commenters alike began to speculate about where the alleged rape could have happened. Which firm? Who was the accuser? Did they do it in a partner’s office?

Well, now we know the name of the accuser (and what she looks like), and the name of the “downtown law firm” where the alleged rape occurred.

Which downtown law firm could it be? Sullivan & Cromwell? Cleary Gottlieb? Milbank?

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* Extra frothy: Santorum’s trifecta of wins in Minnesota, Colorado, and Missouri has made Mitt Romney angry. Because even a guy who wins nonbinding primaries can be dangerous to a man’s campaign. [New York Times]

* Richard Holwell, the judge who presided over Rajabba the Hut’s case, will be resigning and starting a boutique firm with two partners jumping ship from Kasowitz Benson. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Joe Amendola claims that evidence is being withheld in his client’s case — evidence like the alleged victims’ phone numbers. Why does Sandusky need those? So he can call and breathe heavily into the phone? [Philadelpha Inquirer]

* Foxy Knoxy’s lawyer is appealing her slander conviction in Italy, claiming that the police “manipulated” her during questioning. You were already cleared of a murder charge, stop pushing your luck. [USA Today]

* It’s really too bad that Lindsay Lohan doesn’t employ Biglaw firms for all of her drama, because given what she’s spent on legal fees in recent years, those prized spring bonuses would assured. [Huffington Post]

There may be a case, which is for a court of law to decide, but that’s a made-up number.

Kate O’Brien Ahlers, a spokesperson for the New York City Law Department, commenting on the $900 trillion lawsuit filed against the city by Fausat Ogunbayo, a mother whose children were placed in foster care in June 2008.

They took on six figures of (non-dischargeable) debt to go to law school, and now they hang their laundry in the street.

Most installments of Lawyerly Lairs, our inside look at the nests of legal eagles, involve residences (and occasionally offices) of utter fabulosity. Just look at our latest Lairs: a $5.9 million apartment on Park Avenue, a $4.6 million prewar coop on the Upper East Side, and a $1.7 million penthouse on the Upper West Side.

We realize that most Americans, or even most lawyers, don’t live in such luxury. And we’re interested in learning about how the other half lives. If you’d like to have your home featured in Lawyerly Lairs, even if it isn’t a million-dollar mansion, feel free to email us, subject line “Lawyerly Lairs.” (If you’re trying to sell your home, send us the listing; exposure to Above the Law’s large audience could be beneficial.)

We’ll get the 99 percent ball rolling with a look at two current law students who braved the brutal renters’ market here in New York. What school do they attend, and how did their hunt turn out?

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