2021 Vault Rankings
At a Glance
“Commitment to pro bono.”
“The culture and people. We have great, balanced people working at this firm.”
“Opaque partnership process.”
“Stress levels can be high.”
About Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP
Rooted in New York, with offices in Silicon Valley, and Paris, Kramer Levin is a full-service shop with 375 lawyers. The firm practices across dozens of areas with particular strength in bankruptcy, immigration, litigation, M&A, real estate, and white collar.
Many Eggs, Many Baskets
Fourteen New York attorneys teamed up to start Kramer Levin in 1968. From the start, Kramer Levin was positioned as a full-service firm that didn’t rely on a single hallmark practice or longstanding relationship with one major client. This approach, combined with the firm’s small size, meant that some practice areas were run by just one or two lawyers, but it also meant that Kramer Levin was able to accept litigation, real estate, transactional, tax, and trusts and estates assignments. One of the reasons why the firm was able to attract and retain partners and associates in its early days was the fact that it offered attorneys a chance to work in small teams and build their practices themselves, instead of navigating through the crowds at larger firms.
From Gavels to Distress to Buildings
Kramer Levin has stuck by its diversified practice model. Its litigators handle everything from advertising litigation and commercial litigation to antitrust and real estate litigation to securities litigation and white collar defense—to name some. The firm was in the spotlight recently for its work on the U.S. Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges, which determined that denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry violates the Constitution.
The firm is recognized for its work in restructuring—and for good reason. Kramer Levin has been involved in some of the largest and most complex bankruptcies filed in the country, including Caesar’s Entertainment, Toys R Us, and Puerto Rico.
Holding a spot within the top 20 of Vault’s Real Estate ranking, Kramer Levin’s real estate practice is also widely recognized. The group advises real estate owners and developers, private equity investors, investment bankers, and hoteliers, among others. Clients include the Related Companies LP in the 26-acre Hudson Yards development in Midtown Manhattan and The Walt Disney Co. in the sale of its Upper West Side campus and the purchase of a new headquarters in Lower Manhattan.
Rising to the Challenge
Pro bono isn’t an afterthought at Kramer Levin. The firm was a charter member of Volunteers of Legal Service, Inc, and through its partnership with the organization, Kramer pledges a minimum of 30 hours each year per lawyer. That’s more than 11,000 hours in case you lost count. In addition, Kramer Levin is a signatory of the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge through the Pro Bono Institute.
News & Awards
Kramer Levin established the Racial Justice Initiative. This important initiative, which is led by the firm’s Pro Bono Committee, was developed to pursue pro bono opportunities focused on racial injustice and inequality, including criminal justice reform, which has been a long-standing focus of the firm’s pro bono work.
On January 1, 2020, Paul Schoeman and Howard Spilko became co-managing partners of the firm following the retirement of Paul Pearlman, who had led the firm as managing partner since August 2000.
Kramer Levin announced the election of four new partners: Hannah Lee (Patent Litigation), Claudia Pak (Commercial Litigation), Rachael Ringer (Bankruptcy & Restructuring) and Josh Winefsky (Real Estate).
Kramer Levin completed a two-year renovation of its offices at 1177 Avenue of the Americas. The new space features glass-walled offices that allow more natural light into the interior of the space, electric sit-stand desks, informal collaborative meeting spaces, state-of-the-art video and audio technology, and an expanded cafeteria.
- Won a landmark case in the Puerto Rico bankruptcy when the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the right of Kramer Levin’s bondholder clients to seek a receiver for the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.
- Represented BlackRock Inc. in its $1.3 billion acquisition of eFront.
- Represented The Walt Disney Co. in its $650 million acquisition of the rights to 4 Hudson Square for 99 years and the $1.2 billion sale of its ABC campus on the Upper West Side to Silverstein Properties.
- Representing The Procter & Gamble Company against railroads alleging violations of federal antitrust laws.
- Rising Star (Rachael Ringer), 2020 – Law360
- Women in Real Estate (Julia L. Wachter, Meigan P. Serle), 2020 – New York Real Estate Journal
- NYC Dealmaker of the Year, Middle Market M&A (Howard T. Spilko), 2020—The Deal
- Diversity Trailblazer (Kenneth Chin), 2020— New York State Bar Association
- Law Firm Award for Pro Bono, 2020—Her Justice
Why Work Here
• Kramer Levin is one of the most prestigious firms in New York City. We boast nationally-known litigators and transactional attorneys, but New York City is our hometown, and the vast majority of our lawyers work here. That means, if you join us, you’ll be at the center of virtually everything we do as a firm. And your interactions with colleagues will be face-to-face, not via videoconference.
• Our clients are sophisticated market leaders across global industries, and their transactions are routinely featured in the pages of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Crain’s New York Business. That means our work is as good as it gets.
• Kramer Levin prides itself on ‘personality’ fit. We have an open-door, collegial environment, and hire smart, creative people who make our firm more personable than other law firms. And around here, success is how YOU define it.
• Individuality makes us better. Kramer Levin is committed to creating and fostering a diverse and inclusive environment. We have several affinity groups and the firm is committed to programs and initiatives designed to increase the pipeline of diverse law professionals.
• Good news for the risk-averse. Economic conditions have had a muted impact on our firm’s performance due to excellent management and a balanced mix of cyclical and counter-cyclical practices. (We are particularly well-known for litigation and bankruptcy, for example, two classic counter-cyclical practices.) Kramer Levin is also one of the most profitable firms (i.e., we are in the top one-third of Am Law 100 firms in terms of profits per partner).
Working at Kramer Levin
• You’ll get real work, not make work. We’re not a mega-firm, and we don’t staff like one. You’ll be an important and valued member of our team.
• As a Kramer Levin Summer Associate, you have a say in what type of work you do. There are no department assignments. No rotations. We want to know what interests you and how we can help you play to your strengths.
• If pro bono interests you, then we have a lot in common. Our commitment to pro bono is well-known. What is less well-known is that there are no limits on the number of pro bono hours you can count as “billable” toward bonus requirements. In pro bono as in life, we encourage you to follow your interests.
• Training is second-to-none, due in large part to our robust “shadowing” program, which provides junior attorneys with hands-on learning opportunities by encouraging them to accompany more experienced lawyers to depositions, negotiations, strategy sessions, corporate board meetings, conference calls and the like. As with pro bono, hours spent shadowing count as “billable” toward bonus requirements.
What 2017 Summer Associates Told Us
“Kramer Levin feels like a place where people actually do enjoy the people that they work with. People don’t feel like they are stepping over each other to try and move up the ladder or like they are being burned out, chewed up and spit out by the firm. It feels like a long term work place. At the same time, the work is challenging and people work hard.”
“Welcoming and well-balanced. The people here are great. People are committed to their work but also have lives outside of the office.”
“Work hard, play hard. Entrepreneurial. Down-to-earth.”
“Hardworking environment with extremely smart and talented people, minus the negative stereotypes of big law snobby, pretentious, gunners, etc. Kramer’s culture makes it enjoyable to be at work.”
1177 Avenue of Americas
New York, NY 10036
Phone: (212) 715-9100
Managing Partners: Paul H. Schoeman and Howard T. Spilko
Hiring Partner: Kerri Ann Law
Total No. Attorneys 2020:
250 - 500
New York, NY
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
9th year+: $350,000
Summer associate: $3,700/week
Director of Legal Recruiting & Diversity
No. of U.S. Offices: 2
No. of International Offices: 1
New York, NY (HQ)
Silicon Valley, CA I Paris
Banking & Finance
Bankruptcy & Restructuring
Cybersecurity, Privacy, & Data Protection
Executive Compensation & Employee Benefits
EU Competition & Trade Law
Insurance & Reinsurance
Mergers & Acquisitions
Real Estate, Land Use & Environmental
Securitization & Derivatives
*See firm website for complete list of practice areas and industries.