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From Russia with Love

Vivia Chen

April 10, 2012

Bons-baisers-russie-ital-4FWhat happens when a high-profile partner airs the dirty laundry about his former firm? Well, it's likely that someone will dig up some dirt on him too.

That's what appears to have happened to former Dewey & LeBoeuf partner John Altorelli, who recently joined DLA. Last week, Altorelli gave a rather candid interview to The Am Law Daily's Sara Randazzo. He did offer some kind words about his former firm, but that's not what's sticking. He's more likely to be remembered for voicing doubts about Dewey's survival: “I’m not sure how they can weather the departures."

But here's where things get even more interesting: The day after that interview, the New York Post ran a rather embarrassing story about Altorelli's relationship with a hot Russian spy:

Before she was arrested and deported, Russian spy Anna Chapman was living with powerhouse New York lawyer John Altorelli, who told friends she gave him the “best sex” he ever had.

According to sources, the legal eagle and the sexy spy shacked up in his West 37th Street apartment. He threw a party at his home with Chapman in June 2010, just days before her arrest, and introduced her to friends as “the woman in his life.” Altorelli also boasted to pals that Chapman was very adventurous in bed.

926588_1259197375Obviously, this is a fun one. There's sex—actually, make that "best sex"—plus all that 007 stuff. (Question: Was Chapman using Altorelli to get spy-worthy info about corporate deals?) And how interesting that an Am Law 100 partner would be shacking up with his honey on West 37th Street. I know the area is trendy now, but it's still a bit seedy, no?

All of this fits neatly into the profile of a middle-aged man who's dying to bust out of his middle-aged shell. It also reminds me of the Post story on Ira Schacter, the Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft partner who was involved with the former Playboy model. Like Schacter, Altorelli (pictured at left) allegedly showered his love with jewels.

Which brings me back to my original point: Is Altorelli paying the price for talking out of school? He certainly violated one of the golden rules: Never say anything negative about your former place of employment.

Maybe it's just a coincidence, but the timing of the Post story seemed curious to me. I mean, Altorelli's romp with the Russian spy took place almost two years ago—and it's coming out now? Not to be paranoid, but is someone out to get him?

I asked Dewey point-blank whether the firm had anything to do with the story, and here's what firm spokesperson Duncan Miller says: "I can confirm that the New York Post story on John did not come from a source at or connected to the firm."

As for Altorelli and DLA, they wouldn't comment either.

Which leaves us with a cliffhanger.

Related coverage: Above the Law; Wall Street Journal Law Blog.


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Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? E-mail The Careerist's chief blogger, Vivia Chen, at [email protected].



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Some of us don't get encased in a "middle-aged shell" in the first-place.

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The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: [email protected]

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