2020 Vault Rankings
- Pro Bono#21
- Real Estate#16
At a Glance
“Commitment to pro bono.”
“The hours can be grueling at times.”
About Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
For decades, Paul, Weiss has valiantly defended the coffers and reputations of some of the world’s largest financial institutions and companies. Though perhaps best recognized for its courtroom dazzle, the firm’s prolific corporate and restructuring departments more than hold their own. The firm is also known for its expertise in telecom and entertainment law.
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison dates to pre-WWI New York, where Samuel William Weiss and partners opened a practice to handle commercial law matters for other members of the local Jewish business community. Back then, Jewish attorneys struggled to find acceptance in Gentile firms. Weiss’ son Louis took a different approach and went into business with Columbia Law classmate John F. Wharton, who was a Protestant. It was one of the earliest instances of an American law firm where Jews and Gentiles worked as equals. Eventually Weiss & Wharton merged with the firm Louis’ father had helped start.
From its earliest days, Paul, Weiss was associated with progressive politics and civil rights. Well-known First Amendment lawyer Walter Pollak joined the firm in 1936, after having argued some of the infamous “Scottsboro Boys” trials before SCOTUS. Lloyd Garrison and Randolph Paul joined in the mid-1940s. Paul was a tax attorney who’d previously worked at the Treasury, and Garrison—the great-grandson of an abolitionist—stood up for clients like Arthur Miller, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Langston Hughes during the McCarthy era.
The last name partner to join the masthead was Judge Simon Rifkind, who came on board in 1950 after serving as a federal district court judge and working in the Roosevelt administration to craft New Deal legislation. He stayed with the firm until his death in 1995 and is credited with helping to establish the firm as a litigation powerhouse.
One of the Greats
Paul, Weiss is home to one of the nation’s preeminent litigation departments, playing a lead role in defending global banks during and after the financial crisis and currently representing many of the world’s best-known companies in significant litigation and regulatory matters. Paul, Weiss also boasts a formidable corporate practice, with a top-notch M&A group and a private equity group that handles deals and funds work for Apollo, one of the world’s most prolific buyout firms, among others. Its bankruptcy department is also among the nation’s elite, advising some of the country’s largest distressed companies, investors, and creditor groups.
Pro Bono in the Blood
Civil rights work is part of the DNA of Paul, Weiss, dating back to its work on the “Scottsboro Boys” trials and Brown v. Board of Education to challenging the Defense of Marriage Act through United States v. Windsor. Recently, the firm has been active in family separation cases and immigration rights, along with reproductive rights and voter protection efforts. Its pro bono efforts have not gone unrecognized—the firm was named to the 2019 National Law Journal’s Pro Bono Hot List.
News & Awards
Renowned Supreme Court advocate Kannon Shanmugam joined Paul, Weiss in February 2019 to chair a new Supreme Court and Appellate Practice; Kannon argued four cases in the 2018-2019 Supreme Court term—more than any other lawyer in private practice. And in June 2019, former United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch joined the firm in its renowned Litigation Department.
A U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge in February 2019 approved the $5.2 billion sale of the assets of Sears, overruling objections, effectively saving 45,000 jobs and giving the chain a new life. Paul, Weiss represented the Sears independent directors, leading their investigation into certain transactions prior to the bankruptcy and negotiating key aspects of the sale.
The New York Times highlighted Paul, Weiss’ leadership in a court-ordered effort to find parents deported by the Trump Administration and to reunify families in an article on law firms’ intensive pro bono immigration efforts in a front-page story in November 2018.
In October 2018, Paul, Weiss was tapped by IBM in its proposed $34 billion all-cash deal to acquire Red Hat, creating the world’s largest hybrid cloud provider. The transformational deal is IBM’s biggest-ever deal.
- Paul, Weiss successfully defended Citigroup at trial from $2 billion allegations that Citigroup aided and abetted in massive Parmalat fraud; in 2008, jurors rejected the claim, awarding Citigroup $364 million on its counterclaim.
- Paul, Weiss won a landmark Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Windsor in 2013, which led to the recognition of the constitutional right of same-sex couples to be married.
- Paul, Weiss led the defense of the NFL in lawsuits by 5,000-plus former NFL players over alleged concussion-related injuries, obtaining a landmark settlement in 2013.
- Ranked Fifth on The American Lawyer “A-List” in 2018
- Litigation partners Theodore Wells, Jr. and Former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson listed among Savoy Magazine’s 2018 “Most Influential Black Lawyers”
- Ranked among the top 25 “Most Diverse Law Firms” for 17 consecutive years, with two number-one rankings, by The American Lawyer’s “Diversity Scorecard”
- Ranked Band 1 by Chambers USA in 2018 in eight practice areas
- Litigation partners Susanna Buergel and Elizabeth Sacksteder recognized in 2018 as “Notable Women In Law” by Crain’s New York Business.
1285 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10019-6064
Phone: (212) 373-3000
Firm Chair: Brad S. Karp
Deputy Chair: Valerie E. Radwaner
Hiring Partners: Catherine Nyarady & Neil Goldman
Total No. Attorneys 2019:
1K - 1.5K
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
No. of Summer Associates:
134 total (121 2Ls; 13 1Ls) (2019)
Pamela N. Davidson
Chief Legal Personnel and Recruitment Officer
See firm website for more information.
New York, NY (HQ)
Bankruptcy & Corporate Reorganization
Capital Markets & Securities
Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation
Media, Sports & Entertainment
Mergers & Acquisitions
White Collar & Regulatory Defense
*See firm website for complete list of practice areas and industries.