c.2013 New York Times News Service

c.2013 New York Times News Service

NEW YORK ó Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney in Manhattan, has an office with official portraits, plaques and seals adorning the walls ó but also the constant sound of music filling the air.


When I walked into this office, when I was sworn in as U.S. attorney on Aug. 13, 2009, I probably uttered something thatís not printable when it sank in that a guy like me gets to have an office like this. This is the best office I ever had. It overlooks the Brooklyn Bridge and has an entire wall of windows. Natural light helps me think and puts me in a good mood.

When I was on the staff of Sen. Chuck Schumer for four years, I worked in a basement office in the U.S. Senate without any windows at all.


I spend a lot of time at my desk, but thereís also a sitting area with a coffee table and a couch and leather chairs. I always sit in the same seat, and I like to put my feet up on the coffee table. I like sitting there because I face the windows and can look outside.

When I donít want to be distracted by the screens on my desk and have a long conversation with someone, I like to sit around the couch area and not rush. Itís like a living-room discussion. If thereís a serious question someone has and I am at my desk, I might say, ďLetís adjourn to the couch area.Ē


I am not by nature a supremely neat person, and my desk is testament to that. I worry about a completely empty desk. The work of people here is so consuming and so varied and so much involves multitasking, I am sometimes suspicious if I see a desk that is overly orderly or empty.

But the area around the coffee table is generally pretty spotless, because I want uncluttered thinking, dialogue, discussion and debate when we are there.


I have the requisite amount of unearned plaques that lawyers seem to collect. My favorite is the one we in this office give everyone who works here when they leave. So, I have my plaque from when I was a line prosecutor here and left the office.


The seal of office is awesome. Itís in between the American flag and the Southern District of New York flag behind my desk.

It is aging a bit, but that gives it some authenticity and shows that it has been handed down for a long time.


I have never actually put my college or law school diploma on the wall. I donít know where they are. I have made an exception, however, because I had the great honor of getting an honorary law degree from Fordham Law School. That diploma, which is unearned, is on my wall.


I am not a fan of too many regularized meetings. A lot of meetings about cases, decisions and priorities happen on an as-needed basis. We are fluid and wait to see what the day brings.


I cannot work ó and this is since I was doing middle-school algebra on my bed as a kid in New Jersey ó without listening to music. I have a radio that plays from the moment I get in to the moment I leave. Recently, I got a wireless speaker that I can connect to my iPad. That is probably the most precious thing I have on my desk, because it helps me do my work.


I have a picture of Bruce Springsteen with my mother and a picture of Bruce Springsteen and my son, from the concert where I met him and he gave me a shout-out. The one with Springsteen and my mom, I always joke that the only way I could make it more American is if I Photoshopped in a piece of apple pie.


I almost always eat at my desk. If I order anything, itís light, like a salad that doesnít have much in it or a small cup of soup. I eat one big meal a day, and that tends to be dinner.


I am not by nature a morning person. I get in to the office late in the 9 oíclock hour each morning, and I donít stay late at the office, and I donít come in on weekends, mostly. I do spend a lot of time into the night bothering people by email.


From time to time, people who are being charged, or more typically people from companies we are thinking of charging, will come in, and there will be pitches for leniency or requests to decline prosecution. Those take place in our library. If you have the meeting in the library, it is a lot easier for me to leave than to kick them out.