The Funky Law Office From Big Law

The Funky Law Office From Big Law

Being in a Big Law firm doesn’t mean you have to adopt any small-minded attitudes towards being a little of what the New York Times has described David M. Zornow’s desk and office as being – that is, “funky”.  In fact Mr Zornow, who is the global head of litigation at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in New York sayd people make fun of his desk.  But he likes it – clearly – and so he should.  It may look like an orange paint “explosion” but we have to agree with the NY Times, it truly is funky.

And funky is good.  There’s no reason, after all, that lawyers’ need to have offices that look like something that reflects darkness and all the rosewood seriousness that characterize so many lawyers’ offices.

Here’s what the NT Times say:

People do make fun of my desk. At some point I wanted a desk with a lighter, more modern look. I didn’t want the heaviness of most lawyer desks. My wife, my daughter and I came across this desk in SoHo. It was designed by Gaetano Pesce. It looks like someone spilled orange paint onto a platform. It took some convincing for me to agree to buy it. At heart, I am very conservative. But my wife and daughter are convincing, and orange is the new black.


One of the disadvantages of my desk is that it has no drawers. But I have drawers in the credenza behind my desk for all of my files. Of course, I never open those files. In today’s world, you look in old emails, not in files.

Free to be fun

No one here would seek to control how I decorate my office. We work very hard, long hours. So you ought to be in an environment that is comfortable and fun and reflective of your personality. Although this is a Wall Street law firm and I am a conservative person, the office is where I let a little funkiness through.

Catnaps allowed

I have a couch in my office where I will take a nap. You know, every now and then, when you are burning the candle at both ends as we do around here, a 15-minute rest in the afternoon can be quite refreshing. I lock my door and hit the couch.

The Bob Dylan shrine

Each partner around here has his or her own conference room. I keep the Dylan shrine in my conference room. Wherever I go, if I see a photo, a poster or a magazine, I’ll buy it. I have so much that I actually have a second Dylan shrine in my house.

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Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times

Plaque policy

I am not a plaque person. I own them but do not display them. Nor do I have a single diploma displayed in my office.

Only award displayed

While a United States attorney, I received the Director’s Award from the Justice Department. I was involved in the 1986 Parking Violations Bureau corruption trial that resulted in the conviction of Stanley Friedman, then the Bronx Democratic leader. Rudy Giuliani, another colleague and I tried the case. I keep that one up. That was a big case for me.

Family photo

During jury deliberations for the Stanley Friedman trial, someone took a photo of Rudy Giuliani wheeling his son in a stroller. I was carrying my son next to them. They were both toddlers. It ran in the newspaper.


Kid collection

I have a painting that my wife made of my son Ethan; I have a painting that my daughter Hannah made; and I have fliers for my son Sam, who travels the world as DJ Shiftee and does electronic dance music.

Face time

I live outside the city and get in early so that I can be working out at the gym at 7. I arrive at the office around 8:30 and I could be here until 8:30 p.m. You can also do a lot of work from home these days, but in a law firm I think it is important for people to be in the office together. A lot of the creativity we try to achieve is accomplished by kicking around ideas face to face.

Lunch is not optional

I worked one summer at Kutsher’s Hotel in the Catskills in the borscht belt, and someone defined life there as “killing time between meals.” I always say, “You gotta eat.” I do not miss lunch.

We have a conference floor where there is food, but I will often go to the Brooklyn Diner or Bond 45. I go to those two so often that I actually have a plaque with my name on it at each one.

Northern light

I used to be on what is generally considered to be the better side of the building, but I moved here for the northern light, which is softer. Also, in this room you have a corner where glass meets glass, so you have the feeling of being in a treehouse.

NY Times

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