So what will Eliot Spitzer do next, assuming he escapes criminal prosecution and disciplinary sanction following his alleged involvement with a high-end prostitution ring? If he follows the example of his three living predecessors as governor, he will join a law firm.
George Pataki last year joined Chadbourne & Parke as a counsel in the environmental practice, and Mario Cuomo has long hung his hat at Willkie Farr & Gallagher. Hugh Carey survived the 1987 collapse of Finley Kumble Wagner Underberg Manley Myerson & Casey and is now a partner in the Manhattan office of Harris Beach.
But Spitzer's reasons for resigning office mark him as something of a different candidate.
"It matters how you leave," said the chairman of one large New York firm who asked to remain unnamed.
Former governors and other prominent political names generally have a cachet with clients that makes them attractive to firms, he said, but the scandal forcing Spitzer out of office may have exhausted the current governor's quotient of good will.
"He would need to rehabilitate himself first," agreed the managing partner of another large New York firm who also requested anonymity. It would probably be a year or more before any firm would even consider bringing the soon-to-be ex-governor aboard, the partner said. "He's radioactive in this environment," he added.