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At first it sounds like the worst stereotype of a hyperaggressive Manhattan lawyer. Philip Levey ushers you into his office, shows you to a chair and almost immediately demands that you feel the size of his biceps. But then you remember: this man is 99 years old. A creature of habit, Levey has followed the same twice-a-day exercise regimen since he was 16 (and has the muscle to prove it). And in his eighth decade as a lawyer, he still spends five hours a day, five days a week at work as of counsel to Drabkin & Margulies. “I could’ve quit 30 years ago and gone to Florida,” he acknowledged in a recent interview in his lower Broadway office. “But I felt that I could live longer by continuing to do this.” At this point, who is going to argue with him? Born in 1901, Mr. Levey grew up in Lakewood, N.J., as a self-described “country kid.” He left Columbia University after his freshman year to transfer to Fordham University, and then graduated from Fordham Law School in 1924. Soon after, he moved into offices on Fifth Avenue in midtown and began a small general practice with an emphasis on negligence and matrimonial matters. Norman Goodman, the longtime County Clerk and Clerk of the Supreme Court in Manhattan, was a part of Levey’s firm between 1949 and 1966, and remembered him as a charismatic advocate. “He was a good lawyer. He had great perception,” Goodman said. “He was able to recognize what was important in a case and what was not. And he was able to charm everyone, including his adversaries.” PERSONAL TOUCH Levey agreed that over the years his personal touch has been one of his great strengths as an attorney. “I like people and I’m the only lawyer, as far as I know, who always takes a client to lunch and makes them a friend,” he explained. “I think they did regard me above all as a friend and then as an attorney.” Perhaps not surprisingly, then, by the time that Levey closed his own shop and joined Drabkin & Margulies 20 years ago, he had developed a reputation as an effective rainmaker. Said firm partner Ralph J. Drabkin with admiration, “He has a vast network of friends and acquaintances and they are always generating something.” These days, Levey works from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and has a car service that takes him between the office and his Upper East Side apartment. And while he does not perform much actual legal work anymore, he is still connected enough to bring in business occasionally. In 1994, Levey received the referral for a case on behalf of a boy burned in an apartment fire, which ended in a $2.5 million settlement. Away from the firm, Levey, who is widowed with one daughter, remains active as well, attending concerts, going out to dinner three or four nights a week and taking occasional trips to places like Bermuda and the Catskills. And, of course, there is his exercise program: short workouts in the morning and evening with free weights and a tension-based strength device known as a Bullworker. The next goal is to be working on his 100th birthday: Sept. 3 of 2001. And it certainly seems within reach. “He’s active and he’s not bored and he certainly feels a sense of worth coming in to work,” Drabkin said. “The man comes to work and just has an attitude that his working is keeping him alive.”

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