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.
Diverse to the Core
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, so many formed firms of their own.
Weiss's son Louis took a different tack-after graduating from
Columbia Law he went into business with a 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.
The firm's focus on diversity continued. Paul, Weiss was the
first New York firm to hire a black associate and was the first
major New York law firm to make a woman partner. The words of
longtime partner Simon H. Rifkind remain entrenched in the firm's
statement of principles: "We are sensitive to the fact that we
practice in New York City, which is a pluralistic community and the
major international and financial center of the Western world. We
believe in maintaining, by affirmative efforts, a membership of
partners and associates reflecting a wide variety of religious,
political, ethnic and social backgrounds, characteristic of that
community." Paul, Weiss continues to make serious efforts to hire
and retain a diverse mix of lawyers and support staff through the
work of the firm's Diversity Committee and programs such as its
annual Diversity Networking event.
With Liberals and Justice for All
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 (which inspired Harper Lee's To
Kill a Mockingbird) before the United States Supreme Court. Named
partners 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
Trial Size Gets Huge
The firm grew through the 1960s and 1970s, expanding from
litigation, tax and entertainment law to include corporate clients.
It continued to be involved in the kinds of cases that defined
their times, from the earliest environmental lawsuits to the "salad
oil scandal," in which major financial institutions, including
American Express, got caught up in a fraudulent loan scheme
involving a New Jersey vegetable oil company. In the 1980s, the
firm developed a white-collar defense practice-star attorney Arthur
Liman defended corporate raider Carl Icahn, mutual-fund embezzler
Robert Vesco and junk bond dealer Michael Milken.
Today Paul, Weiss is smaller than many of its rivals, but it
remains among the top 50 firms in the U.S. by gross revenue. It has
forged ahead during the financial crisis, representing Bear Stearns
and major client Citigroup in litigation and regulatory
IN THE NEWS
White-Collar Game Changer
Paul, Weiss represented Citigroup Global Markets Inc. in connection
with a multi-year industry-wide SEC investigation into the
structuring, marketing and sale of CDO securities that yielded one
of the most important decisions in the regulatory and white-collar
arena in recent years-and one that will affect all future
settlements of government investigations-with the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the Second Circuit granting Citigroup's motion to stay
all district court proceedings pending appeal.
Paul, Weiss client Edith Windsor brought a constitutional challenge
to the Defense of Marriage Act before the United States Supreme
Chinese Acquisition of Canadian Energy
Paul, Weiss advised Nexen Inc., an independent, Canadian-based
global energy company, in its $15.1 billion acquisition by CNOOC
Limited, China's largest producer of offshore crude oil and natural
gas and one of the largest independent oil and gas exploration and
production companies in the world.
Taking Over El Paso
Paul, Weiss advised Apollo Global Management, along with Riverstone
Holdings LLC, and other investors, in a $7.15 billion agreement to
acquire all of the oil and natural gas exploration and production
assets of El Paso Corporation. The transaction is the largest
private equity transaction announced in 2012, and the
second-biggest private equity takeover of an energy producer.
Pfizer's Four-Win Streak
Paul, Weiss represented Pfizer Inc., the world's largest
research-based pharmaceutical company, in four successive jury
trial victories relating to whether the hormone therapy drug,
Prempro, caused breast cancer.
Music to their Ears
Paul, Weiss advised Warner Music Group in its $3.3 billion sale to
Access Industries, navigating numerous intellectual property
challenges to offer a diligence process that would provide comfort
to potential buyers regarding the chain of title for a voluminous
catalog and artist roster.