Sal Strazzullo, New York City night-life lawyer, is just a regular guy from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, who wears bespoke Italian suits and knows his way around both a velvet rope and a bar exam. According to The New York Times' Alan Feuer, he's also the man you turn to if you get involved in something questionable but at least marginally chic that's likely to land you on the front page of the New York Post. In Times profile this week, Strazzullo comes across as equal parts mensch and savvy businessman, nightclub habitue and legal guru. Or, as The New York Post's Andrea Peyser describes him, "a cross between a bulldog and Chihuahua."
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Strazzullo, 40, a lawyer of 10 years, "has earned a reputation for taking care of the boldface celebrities — and lesser lights of the pleasure-seeking set — who get themselves in trouble after dark," writes the Times' Feuer. Strazzullo's clients read like a who's who of the tabloids: Foxy Brown; Milana Dravnel, a stripper who sued Oscar De La Hoya; Adam Hock, who got in a fistfight with Monaco's Prince Pierre Casiraghi; Ingrid Gutierrez, a model injured in the recent nightclub melee between Chris Brown and Drake; and nightclub doorman Wass Stevens, arrested for allegedly hitting a man in line at Chelsea' Avenue. Strazzullo also worked for Thomas Heiser, David Burke's chauffeur, dubbed the "whipping-post wheelman" by the Post for allegedly punching Burke and slamming his head in a car's trunk. He's "also more or less monopolized another niche market: aggrieved exotic dancers," writes Feuer.
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What can other aspiring nightlife lawyers learn from Strazzullo? Be awake to receive texts from your would-be clients and be with it enough to give them good advice in response. Be, in the words of Wass Stevens, "book-smart, but ... also very street-smart." Understand nightlife (Strazzullo put himself through lawschool by working in the nightclub world; Patrick McMullen shot his wedding to model Jodie Fannelli, whom he met at Tunnel and has since divorced). But also be realistic about the scene: "'It’s like my mom and dad used to tell me,' Mr. Strazzullo said. 'Nothing good ever happens at night.'” (Except, in his case, getting work.) Have a fire in your belly and a thirst for justice. But, when the nightclub hand reaches out, reach right back:
“When I started as a lawyer, I didn’t really get respect from the people from my nightclub days,” he said. “It was only once I got a Foxy Brown or a Wass Stevens that now all the sudden I’m the guy club royalty wants to turn to.”
This also means, of course, that you may get your own tabloidy-type stories surrounding you, which Strazzullo has experienced for himself. Per the Times:
Mr. Strazzullo has also, on occasion, been the subject of the same sorts of gossipy stories that he plants on behalf of his clients. Last year, a former paralegal in his office sued him for sexual harassment, claiming he had behaved inappropriately in her presence in a conference room. Mr. Strazzullo retorted in response papers that the plaintiff, Desiree DeMartino, had “initiated the encounter” because of sexual dissatisfaction with her husband.
And other lawyers might not respect you, exactly. But who cares? You're the one who's going to end up with the reality show, not to mention the bottle service at the nightclub of your preference—even if Strazzullo now, at 40, prefers to hang out at Locanda Verde, or, even better, with his family in Bensonhurst, dining on home-cooked Italian food. A nightlife lawyer has to eat, too.