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If the World Trade Center disaster had been a movie, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani told a radio audience a week after the attack, the events would have unleashed the worst side of New Yorkers. Reality, the mayor noted, proved the opposite. The legal profession is a case in point. Lawyers have gone out of their way to help those whose offices were destroyed or rendered unusable. Lawyers from the New York office of Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe scrambled after the Sept. 11 attacks to vacate an entire floor of offices rented at 885 Third Ave. from Latham & Watkins, even though they had two weeks left on their lease. Richard Martin, managing partner of Heller’s New York office, said they did so after Latham told them they had been contacted by Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, which had to abandon its offices at One Liberty Plaza. No one from the firm was hurt, but managing partner Peter Karasz said it could take months before the firm can move back in. That left 350 lawyers with just a few offices in the Citigroup Center in midtown, where Cleary has a conference facility and space it established as a disaster recovery site after the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. EXTREMELY KIND “People have been extremely kind,” Karasz said. “Despite what you keep reading in some of the trade press, the law is more of a profession than a business when it comes to helping each other out in hard times.” For Latham, the decision to offer their entire 13th floor (about 17,000 square feet) meant that Latham had to ask half of its 40 new associates arriving this fall to share offices — something the firm had never done. Bill Voge, a partner on Latham’s executive committee, said that his only hesitation was not knowing how the associates would respond. “Many, many of our associates feel as though they’re making a small gesture towards the relief effort,” he said. “They’re not troubled at all about being a little cramped. They said it was good for their psyche — which is not something I’d anticipated.” David Gordon, Latham’s managing partner in New York, said, “Lawyers in our firm regularly work across the table from Cleary.” But that never entered the equation, he said, though it did influence one aspect of the arrangement. Cleary’s lawyers will have use of the 9th floor library, but to preserve confidentiality, they will have books brought to them. Cleary will pay only Latham’s costs, plus overhead, Gordon said, and will have the space for up to six months. When Cleary offered to pick up Heller’s rent for the second half of September, Heller’s Martin said that his firm asked Cleary to donate the money to a relief fund in Heller’s name. Karasz expressed gratitude to other firms that helped, particularly Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison and Debevoise & Plimpton. Each provided space for 75 lawyers and staff. Other law firms tell similar stories. Thacher Proffitt & Wood, which had offices in 2 World Trade Center, received offers of temporary, rent-free space from no less than eight firms, though they found permanent space instead. The National Law Journal‘s Web site ( www.nlj.com/support) has information to help lawyers deal with the aftermath of the attack.

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