2020 Vault Rankings
- New York#2
At a Glance
“The work is high stakes and exciting.”
“I work with brilliant people.”
"Substantive work from the outset."
“The unpredictable hours.”
“Extremely expensive health insurance.”
About Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
With two centuries under its belt, Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP is one of the nation’s preeminent law firms. The firm boasts industry-leading practices on both the litigation and corporate sides and stand-out teams in M&A, capital markets, banking and credit, corporate governance, tax, executive compensation and benefits, and trusts and estates. Each of Cravath’s practice areas has a strong international focus, and approximately 25 percent of its clients are based outside the United States. Cravath has settled on a lean-and-mean approach to world dominance with two strategically placed offices in New York and London.
Cravath is one of the nation’s oldest law firms, and it certainly has made its mark. Firm founders Richard Blatchford and William Seward both served in Lincoln’s administration—Seward was the Secretary of State. Over the years, the firm has had its hand in representing famed abolitionist Horace Greeley and inventor Samuel Morse, organizing NBC for its original shareholders, and handling the famed 13-year antitrust lawsuit that began in 1969 for IBM. Today, Cravath is a go-to firm for corporate matters—consistently ranking among Vault’s top 3 Best Law Firms for General Corporate Practice—and also boasts a stellar reputation for its antitrust, securities litigation, and white collar work.
Rolling With the Times
For a large operation, Cravath responds very nimbly to market changes. When the economy went into meltdown, Cravath’s team stepped up, advising directors at companies like Citigroup, General Electric, General Motors, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, and Wachovia. Its partnership weathered the economic downturn well, seeing an uptick in its board advisory practice and adding a new restructuring and insolvency practice to its well-known litigation, M&A, and corporate finance capabilities.
Keeping It in the Family
Cravath is a market leader in salaries, bonuses, and hiring practice. Name partner Paul Cravath pioneered the modern associate hiring approach (the hallmark “Cravath System”), which focuses on finding the best and brightest law school grads, paying them lockstep compensation, providing them with the highest caliber training, and promoting partners from within that group. The firm rarely hires lateral partners and has kept its attorney headcount relatively low. Unlike many of its peers, the firm’s partners are all full equity partners, and they are compensated through a lockstep model. Also unique to the firm is its rotation system through which associates select from among the firm’s five practice areas and then are assigned to different partners or groups of partners through a rotation system, which continues for their entire time as associates.
In 2019, Cravath announced the launch of the Cravath Scholars Program at Fisk University—one of the nation’s historically black colleges—in Nashville, Tennessee. Through this program, the firm will provide tuition assistance and summer internships to high-achieving undergraduate students. The firm and the university have shared close ties since Fisk’s founding in 1866; Paul Cravath’s father—abolitionist Reverend Erastus Milo Cravath—was one of the institution’s founders and the first president of the university.
News & Awards
Cravath is representing PG&E as lead trial and coordinating counsel in more than 145 lawsuits, including numerous putative class actions, brought by property and business owners in California state courts for damages related to the 2017 North Bay Fires and the 2018 Camp Fire—one of the largest and most complex set of mass tort litigations in recent years. The firm is also representing PG&E in its Chapter 11 proceedings in connection with resolving all pending wildfire claims.
Cravath has represented the European Investment Bank, which functions as the bank of the EU, since 1964. The EIB is one of the largest issuers, and since January 2019, Cravath has represented the EIB in three SEC registered bond offerings totaling $10 billion.
Cravath is representing Occidental Petroleum in its pending $57 billion acquisition of Anadarko, topping Anadarko’s original agreement with Chevron in what is the largest U.S. oil and gas merger in more than 20 years; its contingent pending $8.8 billion sale of Anadarko’s African assets to Total; and its $10 billion investment by Berkshire Hathaway.
Qualcomm’s global fight with Apple, which Bloomberg called a “billion-dollar war ... in one of the world’s largest industries,” had Cravath at its center, leading Qualcomm as both plaintiff and defendant in high-stakes disputes around the world—including trying two cases before the U.S. ITC and securing a global settlement between the companies after opening arguments in a third trial in California. The settlement will result in an expected $4.5 billion to $4.7 billion in revenues for Qualcomm in its third fiscal quarter in the form of a payment from Apple and the release of certain liabilities, and includes a six-year license agreement and multiyear chipset supply agreement. Upon the settlement’s announcement, The Financial Times declared Qualcomm “the clear winner,” and the company’s stock soared 40 percent.
- Cravath won for American Express before the U.S. Supreme Court in one of the most significant government antitrust enforcement actions in history. The decision defines how antitrust law will be applied to two-sided markets. (2018)
- Cravath represented Time Warner in its $109 billion sale to AT&T, including defending the first fully litigated challenge to a vertical merger in nearly four decades. (2018)
- Cravath represented Disney in its $85 billion acquisition of Fox, overcoming Comcast’s interloper bid, and in connection with Disney’s $35.7 billion of committed bridge financing to back the acquisition. (2019)
- Cravath represented Novartis in its $29.8 billion spinoff of the Alcon eye care devices business into a separately traded standalone company. (2019)
- “Award for Excellence in Corporate/M&A Client Service” (Chambers USA, 2018)
- “Most Innovative Law Firm for Legal Expertise” (Financial Times, 2018)
- “Practice Group of the Year” in Banking, Benefits, M&A and Tax (Law360, 2018)
- “Litigation Department of the Year for Finance” (New York Law Journal, 2018)
- “Pro Bono Publico Award” (The Legal Aid Society, 2018)
Why Work Here
Here’s what you may not know: The professional development of our lawyers is our most important long-term objective. Our continued success depends on our ability to attract and develop the best talent, and we are committed to providing our lawyers with a rewarding and well-rounded professional experience.
We are not, and do not strive to be, the largest law firm measured by number of offices or lawyers. Our goal is to be the firm of choice for clients facing their most challenging legal issues, most significant business transactions and most critical disputes. To that end, we recruit the nation’s most outstanding law students and focus on training and developing them into world-class lawyers through our hallmark Rotation System.
825 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10019
Phone: (212) 474-1000
Presiding Partner: Faiza J. Saeed
Hiring Partners: D. Scott Bennett (Corporate); Benjamin Gruenstein (Litigation)
Total No. Attorneys 2020:
500 - 750
1st year: $190,000
2nd year: $200,000
3rd year: $220,000
4th year: $255,000
5th year: $280,000
6th year: $305,000
7th year: $325,000
Summer associate: $3,700/week
Summer Associate Offers:
95 out of 95 (2Ls) (2019)
No. of Summer Associates:
100 total (95 2Ls; 5 1Ls) (2019)
Lisa A. Kalen
Director of Legal Recruiting
New York (HQ)
Executive Compensation and Benefits
Trusts and Estates
*See firm website for complete list of practice areas and industries.