Back in September, we wrote about David J. Stern, “Florida’s Foreclosure King,” who earned our Lawyer of the Day title for his ascendancy from the fourth tier to the lap of luxury. At the time, we sang Stern’s praises. Stern, a graduate of South Texas Law, employs 900 people, made $17.8 million in 2008, owns $60 million in real estate, and collects yachts.
Thanks to the New York Times, we knew back then that Stern may have been a shady character. But we kind of brushed off those pesky little questions about his “ethics” and “questionable practice methods.” I mean, come on, how many lawyers can say that they drive a Bugatti?
Well, maybe we shouldn’t have overlooked these issues so quickly…
Many real estate lawyers are also real estate investors. It makes perfect sense: they know the market, they know the intricacies of complex transactions, and they see a lot of deals in the course of their practice. For example, Jonathan Mechanic, the renowned real estate lawyer who heads the practice at Fried Frank, owns retail and office space in Bergen County, New Jersey (where I grew up).
Over the weekend, the New York Times documented the successful real estate investing of another top New York real estate attorney: Alan J. Pomerantz, currently a senior counsel at Orrick, and before that the co-CEO of a real estate investment fund and a longtime partner at Weil Gotshal. In 1994, Pomerantz and his wife, Carol Pomerantz, a psychotherapist, bought a fabulous Upper East Side apartment for $1.6 million. Now, “because they now spend most of their time with family in Northern California and are building a house in the Napa Valley” — sounds like a nice life, doesn’t it? — they are selling the apartment.
The asking price: $5.7 million. Even accounting for inflation and the costs of their renovation, it seems that the Pomerantzes made a wise investment (assuming the co-op sells at or near the asking price, as places are starting to do again here in NYC).
Back in 1961, a photographer snapped a picture of President Kennedy that would later be titled “the loneliest job in the world.” It was full of symbolism and it was black-and-white and Kennedy would be assassinated two short years later and Jesus, does anyone really care about all of this? Probably not. Sorry.
Anyway, earlier this week the New York Times published a photo that takes a dump all over the notion that President of the United States is the loneliest job in the world. It was an unassuming, and likely meticulously posed, photograph of a single lawyer. A single lawyer with the weight of the world — and a crumbling legal market — on his shoulders.
No, we’re not talking about thatDavid J. Stern, the lawyer turned NBA commissioner. We’re talking about David J. Stern of Plantation, Florida, a leading lawyer to banks and financial services companies in mortgage-related and foreclosure proceedings.
Over the holiday weekend, the New York Times ran a lengthy article, by Gretchen Morgenson and Geraldine Fabrikant, focused on Florida’s new foreclosures-only courts. Florida’s court system has been so overwhelmed by foreclosure proceedings that the state earlier this year set aside $9.6 million to establish foreclosures-focused courts around the state, presided over by retired judges.
One of the major players in the new court system is David J. Stern, whom the Times describes as “[t]he lawyer most closely identified with Florida’s foreclosure morass.” And for his troubles, this “mystery man within the foreclosure world” has been richly rewarded — very richly rewarded.
Stern went to a fourth-tier law school, but financially he’s running circles around all those Stanford and NYU law grads who wound up as Biglaw partners. His inspiring story shows that, in the end, success in the law is not about where you went to school, but what you’re capable of doing.
Even if you graduated from a non-top-tier law school, if you’re aggressive and smart and entrepreneurial, you can do quite well for yourself. Let’s take a look at David Stern….
An attorney's lovely suburban home was allegedly transformed into A DEN OF SEXUAL SIN....
This story — which could also qualify as a Lawsuit of the Day — is fine, funny Friday fodder. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports:
Adam Bunge, an attorney, and his wife, Sarah Bunge, a Lutheran pastor, put their Maple Grove home up for sale and headed off to London this year for a four-month “work holiday.”
While they were gone, they allege in a lawsuit filed last week, their real estate agent used their house and possessions for “unauthorized sexual escapades,” staining their sheets, couch, carpet and other surfaces….
“It feels like we have been violated in every sense of the word,” Adam Bunge said in an interview.
The Bunges weren’t the only ones who were “violated.” In every room of the house. And it got pretty messy up in there….
Longtime Skadden partner Hilary Foulkes, recognized by Chambers and Partners for his expertise in cross-border M&A work, is quite distinctive-looking. And so is his Cape Cod vacation house, in Chatham — which is causing some trouble with the locals.
Hilary and Tina Foulkes — we thought they were lesbians, until we saw his photo — have given their house a very unusual paint job. The Cape Cod Times describes it as containing “[s]hades of neon green, lime green and citrus yellow.”
Village resident Norm Pacun calls the house “hideous” and “not what’s appropriate.” It certainly stands out in a neighborhood of New England white clapboards.
What do you think? Check out a photo and find out why the Foulkeses may have painted the house this way, below the fold….
Who knew that zoning law and land use could be so controversial? A proposal to build a Muslim center and mosque just two blocks away from Ground Zero has become a huge issue here in New York — and, in fact, around the country.
Opponents of the project — originally known as Cordoba House, but now more commonly referred to as Park51, a 15-story tower that will contain a mosque, 500-seat auditorium, and swimming pool — had hoped to stop the project by winning landmark status for the building currently on the site. This morning, however, NYC’s Landmarks Preservation Commission voted 9-0 against granting protected status to 45-47 Park Place in lower Manhattan, which will be demolished to make way for the $100 million center.
Of course, this controversy is about so much more than granting landmark status to a random downtown building designed by an unknown architect….
This week seems to be Cardozo Law School week here at Above the Law. Yesterday we wrote about Jeremy Weg, a studious rising 2L who posed a question to The Ethicist. Today we bring you the story of Catherine Haldy Jarman, a 2010 Cardozo Law graduate who just bought a fabulous piece of real estate: the Manhattan condo formerly owned by television pundit Alan Colmes, ex-sidekick of Sean Hannity on Hannity & Colmes. The sale price: a cool $1.725 million (marked down from an original $1.99 million).
The triplex penthouse loft boasts two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and over 1,500 square feet of (gut-renovated) living space. It includes one of the most coveted commodities in Manhattan real estate: outdoor space, in the form of a private roof deck, accessed through a solarium. Fourteen-foot ceilings, a wood-burning fireplace — this is not a typical apartment for a law student, which Catherine Jarman was a few short weeks ago.
How could Jarman afford such an expensive place? And what other celebrities — Alan Colmes is admittedly C-list — have lived in the building?
In May 2006, then-Judge J. Michael Luttig made major news in the legal world by resigning from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to become senior vice president and general counsel of aerospace giant Boeing. Luttig served as a Fourth Circuit judge for almost 15 years, during which time he reigned as the #1 feeder judge, sending almost all of his clerks into Supreme Court clerkships, and came extremely close to becoming a justice himself.
Luttig’s resignation from his life-tenured Fourth Circuit judgeship came as a shock to many (and was viewed by some as “taking his toys and going home,” after he got passed over for the SCOTUS seats that ultimately went to John Roberts and Samuel Alito). But Luttig, who’s only 56 — he was appointed to the Fourth Circuit at the tender age of 37 — seems to be enjoying the new challenges of serving as GC of a large public company.
During his four years at Boeing, Luttig has given its in-house ranks a major makeover. He has brought in some top talent, including at least four Supreme Court clerks: John Demers (OT 2005/Scalia), Grant Dixton (OT 2000/Kennedy), Brett Gerry (OT 2000/Kennedy), and Jake Phillips (OT 2004/Scalia). Is there any in-house legal department with more former Supreme Court clerks than Boeing? Don’t forget to count Luttig himself, who clerked for Chief Justice Burger (OT 1983), after clerking for then-Judge Scalia on the D.C. Circuit.
UPDATE: Boeing boasts at least eight (8) SCOTUS clerks. Here are three who were inadvertently omitted from the original version of this post: Bertrand-Marc Allen (OT 2003/Kennedy), Lynda Guild Simpson (OT 1984/Powell), and Eric Wolff (OT 2000/Scalia).
And Luttig has given his net worth a makeover, too. At the time of his May 2006 resignation, federal circuit judges earned $175,100 a year. As executive vice president and general counsel of Boeing — the country’s largest aerospace and defense company, #28 on the Fortune 500 — he makes millions.
Luttig no longer has to worry about covering college expenses for his two kids (which he cited in his resignation letter as a reason for leaving the bench). And this past May, he and his wife, Elizabeth Luttig, bought a fabulous second home in beautiful Kiawah Island, South Carolina.
How much did Mike Luttig pay for his new place? And how does the price tag compare to his in-house compensation at Boeing?
If you are superstitious, then the house shown at right (click to enlarge) — 1509 Swann Street NW, Washington, DC — is not the house for you. It is the house in which promising young lawyer Robert Wone — a former associate at Covington & Burling, and general counsel for Radio Free Asia at the time of his death — was murdered.
The murder took place almost four years ago, on August 2, 2006. Three former residents of 1509 Swann — former Arent Fox partner Joseph Price, his domestic partner Victor Zaborsky, and their lover, Dylan Ward — were recently found not guilty, after a bench on trial on obstruction of justice and conspiracy charges (but not murder).
Their former house is currently on the market. Says our source:
Get a peek inside the house. For $1.6 million, I would expect my home to not have been the scene of a murder — but then again, nothing surprises me in DC real estate.
The house’s history may be troubled, but there’s a lot to like about it….
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
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