The firm of Lyon and Lyon is closing. Among its notable achievements was obtaining patent protection for many of the early electric guitars, and a Fender Stratocaster was proudly displayed in its offices. A last-ditch merger effort failed. I was struck by the sentence in the law.com account that the “stumbling block was Lyon’s ‘very significant lease obligation.'” It’s my understanding that other firm closures such as those of Shea and Gould, and Lord, Day Lord, while caused by underlying business and structural problems, were aggravated by lease obligations.
I am someone who traded a partner’s office with a fantastic view of the Chrysler building for an office at home. I work with other attorneys, here and abroad, and I don’t miss the expensive real estate. I believe that face-to-face interaction with colleagues and clients is necessary (in moderation) and I also acknowledge that some practices (trial work being the most obvious) require a specific location. I don’t agree that on the whole, law has to be practiced utilizing several hundred thousand square feet of downtown trophy space. Clients resent paying for it and lawyers are in denial as to how many weeks (or even months) they work merely to pay that premium..
Lyon’s NY office was not in Manhattan but in White Plains in Westchester. Some may argue that the suburban location kept them out of the ‘scene.’ Nevertheless, the Boies Schiller firm, which maintains some mid-town space, but is headquartered in Armonk, even further than White Plains, is doing fine.