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2021 DIVERSITY DATABASE UNDERWRITER Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz

At a Glance


“Working on headline deals with very smart and talented colleagues.”

“Approachable and bright partners.”

“The above-market compensation.”


“Having to be on call 24/7.”

“Amount of work.”

“The firm could do more to promote pro bono.”

About Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz

Each year, a significant chunk of the world’s dealmaking—major mergers and acquisitions, antitrust and shareholder litigation, big-name restructurings, and multi-billion-dollar real estate ventures—gets cranked through the well-oiled machine that is Wachtell Lipton. Manning the apparatus are a gifted few, whose compensation far outstrips industry standards. While it may not be the biggest or the highest revenue-maker as a firm, it is the most profitable place in the world to practice law. Wachtell Lipton is one of the smallest firms in the AmLaw 100, but it is continually one of the top firms (and usually the top firm) when it comes to PPP, and it stands above the going market rate for first-year associate salaries.

The New York Four

Founded in 1965 by four princes of NYU’s Law Review—Herbert Wachtell, Martin Lipton, Leonard Rosen, and George Katz—this resolutely New York firm still operates from a single Manhattan office. Public interest law champion Katz died young, at 57, in 1989. Rosen remained at the firm as of counsel until he passed away in 2014 at the age of 83. Wachtell and Lipton remain at the firm as active partners. In 1982, Lipton—who recently topped New York Magazine’s list of the most influential lawyers in New York—actually created the “poison pill,” one of the most famous and enduring ways to protect shareholders’ rights.

Corporate Kings

What sets the firm apart, even rivals concede, is that in a city of razor-sharp competitors, no other quite matches what Wachtell Lipton does. From its early days, the firm steered clear of run-of-the-mill corporate matters, choosing messier, riskier work. As such, Wachtell Lipton relies far less on bread-and-butter clients and politely declines more plebeian (if nonetheless profitable) engagements. The firm was one of the first to link its fees to deal value, a model that became the aspiration of most major M&A houses.

When it comes to M&A, Wachtell Lipton reigns supreme, holding the No. 1 spot in Vault’s M&A ranking for more than a decade. It also regularly places among the top 10 firms in Vault’s General Corporate, Private Equity, and Banking & Financial Services rankings. The firm was involved in the death’s door resuscitation of Chrysler in the 1970s. It also played a key role in the much-publicized acquisition of Getty Oil Company, in which Texaco’s “white knight” offer was heralded as one of the greatest acquisitions in history. In more recent history, the firm has seen great success with LBOs and IPOs, corporate restructurings, and other finance matters. It took the lead on what some observers have called the most complex real estate deal in history: the successful negotiation of a master development agreement for the World Trade Center site following September 11, 2001.

See You in Court

The firm’s litigators are no slouches either, complementing Wachtell Lipton’s corporate practice with high-profile securities, corporate governance, and takeover matters. The firm’s notable cases are many, including Morrison v. National Australia Bank—in which the Supreme Court determined that Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act applies solely to those U.S. securities purchased and sold in the United States—and Martin Marietta Materials, Inc. v. Vulcan Materials Co. in which the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the order to enjoin a hostile takeover of the firm’s client based on improper use of confidential materials.

COVID-19 Update

In response to COVID-19, the firm moved seamlessly to a remote environment and has continued to meet the needs of our clients through this challenging time. We offered a full-length, full-scope summer program entirely remotely in 2020, and we gave offers to return as full-time associates to all of the 2L participants in the summer program. We will be welcoming a full class of new associates in the fall, whether in person or remotely, and we look forward to working with the schools where we recruit to interview law students for our 2021 summer program on the timeline set by those schools.

News & Awards



Wachtell Lipton is the go-to firm for activism defense as the top legal advisor to target companies with a market cap of $1 billion or more and by aggregate stake value for the past five years. Recent matters include advising Nielsen, TEGNA, eBay, and Starbucks—among others.


Wachtell Lipton is involved in many capital markets transactions, leading in RDOs. The firm represented IAC/InterActiveCorp in its sale of shares relating to Match Group in connection with the separation of Match Group and IAC, with expected proceeds of $1.4 billion. The firm also represented Regeneron Pharmaceuticals in the $11.6 billion secondary offering and repurchase of its stock held by Sanofi—the sale of Regeneron shares would represent the largest common equity offering by a pharmaceutical company on record.

April 2020

Wachtell Lipton represented T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom in the $146 billion combination of T-Mobile and Sprint. After many years of on-again, off-again courtship during which T-Mobile and Sprint discussed a myriad of deal possibilities and terms, the two U.S. national carriers and their controlling stockholders finally reached an agreement in April 2018 to combine T-Mobile and Sprint to build an unprecedented next-generation nationwide network and lead the United States into the 5G era. The transaction closed in April 2020.

April 2020

Former Delaware Chief Justice Leo E. Strine, Jr. has joined Wachtell Lipton as of counsel after a distinguished 27-year career in public service. In the course of 21 years on the bench, he issued scores of influential decisions that have shaped contemporary law in multiple fields, including corporate governance, fiduciary duties, and mergers and acquisitions. Mr. Strine will work with Wachtell Lipton’s lawyers and clients in structuring corporate governance solutions, including in the increasingly important area of efficiently integrating concern for sustainability and social responsibility (“EESG”) into corporate practices, structuring complex transactions, and shaping transactional and litigation strategy.

  • Wachtell Lipton has repeatedly contributed to major evolutions in corporate law in order to advance the interests of its clients. Among other things, Wachtell Lipton originated the shareholder rights plan, or “poison pill"; invented novel two-tiered price structure to resolve antitrust-risk impasse in the $11.3 billion Valspar/Sherwin-Williams merger, structured the first cross-border “Morris Trust" transaction between SmithKline Beckman and Beecham
  • Wachtell Lipton has been involved in the transactions giving rise to most of the landmark corporate governance decisions in Delaware (and elsewhere), including the Corwin, Arconic, Allergan, Airgas, Sotheby’s, Vulcan Materials, Household, Time Warner, and QVC decisions.
  • Following the financial crisis in 2008, Wachtell Lipton represented the United States Treasury in connection with the rescues of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
  • Wachtell Lipton advised on In re Appraisal of PetSmart, Inc.—the largest appraisal case in Delaware history.
  • Ranked No. 1 across league tables in M&A for principals only in 2019, and over the last five years, the firm has been the legal advisor to a principal in 8 of the 10 largest M&A transactions in the U.S. and in 7 of the 10 largest M&A transactions globally.
  • New York Firm of the Year, 2020—Benchmark Litigation
  • Law360 Rising Stars, 2020: Erica Bonnet (Benefits), Emily Johnson (Capital Markets), Zach Podolsky (Energy), Anitha Reddy (Securities), Rachel Reisberg (Tax), Victor Sapezhnikov (Technology); Law360 MVPs 2019: Josh Cammaker (M&A), Ron Chen (Technology)
  • Dealmaker of the Year, 2020: Karessa Cain—American Lawyer  
  • Corporate Governance Firm of the Year, 2019—Who’s Who Legal

Why Work Here

Wachtell Lipton is dedicated to providing advice and expertise at the highest levels and to achieving extraordinary results for our clients. We seek individuals who are talented, motivated and committed in order to maintain our record of excellence. Our associates, paralegals and administrative staff are critical to this mission. Our lawyers and staff work closely together across departments comprising an elite legal team. We are committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment.

Wachtell Lipton is an equal opportunity employer.  As such, it adheres to an employment policy that prohibits discriminatory practices or harassment against applicants or employees based on any legally impermissible factor(s) including, but not necessarily limited to, race, color, religion, creed, sex, national origin, age, citizenship, marital status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, disability or any protected military or veteran status.

Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz

51 West 52nd St.
New York, NY 10019
Phone: (212) 403-1000

Firm Stats

Executive Committee Co-Chairs: Edward D. Herlihy & Daniel A. Neff
Hiring Partners: By committee
Total No. Attorneys 2020:
250 - 500
No. of Partners Named 2020:

Base Salary

All offices
1st year: $195,000
Summer Associate: $3,750/week

Employment Contact

Elizabeth F. Breslow
Director of Recruiting & Legal Personnel
(212) 403-1334

No. of U.S. Offices: 1

No. of International Offices: 0

Major Office Locations

New York, NY

Major Departments

Executive Compensation & Benefits
Restructuring & Finance
*See firm website for complete list of practice areas and industries.