2021 Vault Rankings
- Pro Bono#30
- New York#9
At a Glance
“People here are brilliant.”
“The commitment to pro bono of all types.”
“Good opportunities to dive in.”
“Lack of transparency into promotion.”
“The work can be stressful and demanding.”
About Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
Debevoise & Plimpton ranks as one of New York’s most powerful law firms, representing high-profile clients in transactions and disputes in established and emerging markets around the world. The firm’s core franchise practices include strategic and private equity, M&A, insurance, and financial services transactions, fund formation, complex litigation, white collar/investigations, and international arbitration.
Eli Whitney Debevoise—a direct descendent of the inventor of the cotton gin—and William E. Stevenson founded their firm in New York in 1931. Debevoise wasn’t the only one with an interesting background; Stevenson was a gold medalist on the 1,600-meter relay team in the 1924 Olympics. Francis T.P. Plimpton, whose name graced the masthead starting in 1933, was the father of famed journalist and writer George Plimpton.
A+ All Around
Debevoise’s corporate department remains its largest, with M&A and private equity leading the charge. Its lawyers consistently lead transactions for some of the world’s most prominent corporations, financial services institutions, and private equity firms. The firm has particularly strong experience with complex leveraged acquisitions and cross-border transactions across a wide range of industries. Debevoise is a leader in the representation of private equity firms and in fundraisings and deal activity for those firms and their portfolio companies, providing “one stop shopping” for private equity and financial sponsor clients. The firm’s Financial Institutions group possesses deep knowledge of the financial services industry and has experience counseling financial services clients on complex banking, insurance, securities broker-dealer, and investment management matters.
On the litigation side, the firm boasts one of the premier and most active white collar practices in the country, representing clients in the U.S. and abroad involved in criminal and SEC investigations and litigation, as well as in parallel civil and administrative proceedings. The firm also has a strong international arbitration practice through which it handles a large number of significant international arbitrations, including treaty and other public law arbitrations. And the firm’s intellectual property team is stellar, covering trademark, trade dress, false advertising, anti-counterfeiting, unfair competition, copyright, trade secret, patent, first amendment, information technology, domain names, and right of publicity. The IP team also includes a highly regarded cybersecurity & data privacy practice.
Debevoise lawyers have a chance to get back to business during their first few weeks at the firm—business school that is. The firm offers a three-week Mini-MBA program focusing on business and finance education. Faculty directors are sourced from Columbia Business School and Training The Street—an organization that provides training programs to Wall Street analysts—and Debevoise lawyers serve as faculty as well.
Of course, the firm doesn’t only focus on getting associates on their feet practice-wise. It also offers resources for associates to develop their career goals, including an internal full-time career counselor and a Professional Development group that provides informal mentoring.
During the current pandemic, virtually all of our lawyers have been working remotely, and the firm is operating smoothly. We continue to focus on meeting the needs of our clients while building a strong and diverse community of lawyers, which includes supporting law school students seeking a rewarding and purpose-driven career in the legal profession. We are currently planning to host a range of recruiting events this coming year, online or in person (in line with guidance from health authorities) and look forward to introducing Debevoise to the next generation of lawyers.
News & Awards
In the largest American initial public offering so far this year, Debevoise advised Warner Music Group in its $1.9 billion IPO. The third-largest recording label in the U.S. launched its IPO through an unprecedented virtual roadshow due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In June 2020, Debevoise became only the third U.S. firm to open an office in Luxembourg, expanding its global footprint as the firm responds to the impact of Brexit on the private funds business and strengthening its position as a leading advisor for private investment funds.
Debevoise advised Toyota as it took the wheel in defining the future of commercial transportation, investing in Uber’s next-generation self-driving vehicle project and setting its sights on the sky as the lead investor in Joby’s electric air taxis.
Debevoise secured a unanimous victory in the Supreme Court case North Carolina Department of Revenue v. Kimberley Rice Kaestner 1992 Family Trust, which has been called “the most important due process case involving trusts that the Court has decided in over sixty years.” When North Carolina attempted to tax income from an out-of- state trust, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that such taxation would constitute unjust confiscation of property in violation of the Due Process Clause.
- In the largest insurance deal of 2019, Debevoise led New York Life’s acquisition of Cigna’s group life and disability unit for $6.3 billion, helping the insurer expand into new lines of business.
- Secured a landmark human rights victory in the International Court of Justice, protecting Qatari citizens against a punishing embargo brought by the United Arab Emirates.
- Advised Global Infrastructure Partners in the formation of a record-smashing $22 billion infrastructure fund, attracting a global roster of investors.
- Led Discovery Communications’ $14.6 billion acquisition of Scripps Networks Interactive, representing a major consolidation of cable TV.
- Dealmaker of the Year (Sue Meng), 2020—The American Lawyer
- Law Firm of the Year in Asia (Fund Formation), Law Firm of the Year in EMEA (Fund Formation); Law Firm of the Year in North America (Fund Formation); Law Firm of the Year in North America (Transactions); Secondaries Law Firm of the Year in Europe – 2019 Private Equity International Awards
- 2019 Honorable Jonathan Lippman New York Pro Bono Publico and Public Service Law Firm Award—The Legal Aid Society
- 60 Best Law Firms for Women, Hall of Fame Honoree —Working Mother
- Investment Funds Law Firm of the Year—2019 Chambers USA New York Awards for Excellence
919 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212) 909-6000
Presiding Partner: Michael W. Blair
Hiring Partner: Nicole Levin Mesard
Total No. Attorneys 2020:
750 - 1K
No. of Partners Named 2020:
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
8th year: $340,000
Summer associates: $3,700/week
Sandra E. Herbst
Director of Legal Recruiting
No. of U.S. Offices: 2
No. of International Offices: 8
New York, NY (HQ)
Washington, DC I Frankfurt
*See firm website for complete list of practice areas and industries.