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After Sept. 11, doubters predicted that scores of residents and businesses would flee New York in fear. But this city isn’t the proving ground for the best and the brightest for nothing. Witness Sidley Austin Brown & Wood, the World Trade Center Tower 1 law firm that was up and running on Sept. 12, even as clients and opponents offered to put matters on hold and allow the firm time to regroup. Yes, things have changed immeasurably in the past year — term limits have sent Sir Rudy into the private sector, an awful scar remains at ground zero, and the decade-long party known as the nineties is a distant memory. But the fact is the city is well on its way toward rebuilding, and a stubborn sense of optimism is reemerging. The economy — including law firm work — is picking up. Restaurants and clubs are hopping. And Mayor Bloomberg takes weekends off, he’s so confident things are chill. In other words, this most urbane of cities remains the undisputed legal capital of America — and one of the world’s most exciting places to live. HOT JOBS Despite notable layoffs at other big firms in 2001, Sullivan & Cromwell, a world leader in M&A deals, and Schulte Roth & Zabel, with its highbrow trusts-and-estates practice, grew significantly. New York�centric Cravath, Swaine & Moore, which serves top-shelf Wall Street clients, is unrivaled in prestige. Shearman & Sterling handles some of the world’s most challenging international work. And mega-megafirm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom offers diversified practice areas, unsurpassed name recognition, and a tidy starting salary of $140,000 per year. Don’t forget about in-house positions. New York is home to dozens of Fortune 500 companies — AOL Time Warner alone employs more than 400 lawyers companywide, many in its various New York City enterprises. Billing hours not your idea of a good time? Crack down on terrorists, wiseguys, and other ne’er-do-wells as a special agent with the FBI — the New York office will likely add scores of J.D.s in 2002. If you prefer your pay in karma points, the Legal Aid Society employs some 900 attorneys who represent indigents and other clients in need. Still in law school? Try an internship with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office — you might get to second-chair an ADA on a trial. HOT TICKETS For those keeping score, the Nets and Mets are in, the Knicks and Yankees are out; get your season tickets before the rest of the tri-state area catches on. On Broadway, try “Urinetown” (a smart, funny satire disguised as a postapocalyptic musical about public toilets) or “Topdog/Underdog” (the rapper Mos Def and “Ali”‘s Jeffrey Wright star as a pair of down-and-out dysfunctional brothers). If fine art’s your thing, hit the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “Splendid Isolation: Art of Easter Island” runs through August 4. HOT NEIGHBORHOODS It still ain’t cheap to live in Manhattan, but areas near ground zero, such as Battery Park City and TriBeCa, are seeing real bargains (some people are uncomfortable living there; others see it as patriotic). Hip, happening Chelsea and the “edge neighborhoods” east and west of midtown (Turtle Bay, Hell’s Kitchen) are relatively affordable. Get the most bang for your buck by voting yourself off the island to booming Fort Greene, Brooklyn, or Astoria, Queens. HOT SHOPPING When in New York, go to Barneys — the country’s best all-around spot for men’s and women’s business threads. If money’s tight, wait for the legendary warehouse sales (August and February). The fiscally fit hit the new Rem Koolhaas�designed Prada flagship store, in SoHo, or Jeffrey, in the meatpacking district, for daring designer finds — especially shoes. Edgy boutique-firm types can distinguish themselves with accessories from Paul Smith — maybe a polka-dot wallet? HOT RESTAURANTS With all due respect to Paris, New York is still the finest place on the planet to chow down. Two hot spots of the moment are Craft (the latest offering from Gramercy Tavern chef and foodie god Tom Colicchio) and Town (New American cuisine in one of the city’s chicest dining rooms). Nothing will impress a client like lunch at midtown’s renowned Four Seasons restaurant — try the saut�ed bison, and don’t forget the company AmEx. If you can get a table at Rao’s, Martin Scorsese’s sometime hangout in Harlem, order pasta and forget practicing law ’cause you’ve already made it. HOT BARS NYC sets the lubrication trends, so pay attention if you want to know what they’ll be downing in Des Moines two years from now. If Salvador Dal� were alive and drinking, he’d be at Hudson Bar — the latest A-lister hangout (Gwyneth, Matt, et al.) with such surrealist design touches as a log bench next to Louis XV chairs. A plush, private booth at Underbar (below the W Hotel Union Square) is a prime place for canoodling. Later, if you must get jiggy, the massive dance floor at Centro-Fly will obscure your “developing” moves.

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