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
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.
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
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 litigation
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.
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
On May 4, Puerto Rico did what no U.S. state or
territory has ever done: file for court-supervised bankruptcy
relief. The scale of the Puerto Rico's debt is jaw-dropping: $70
billion in debt, far larger than the $18 billion Detroit
bankruptcy. Paul, Weiss is representing the largest creditor group,
mostly mutual funds and hedge funds, holding $18 billion in bonds
issued or guaranteed by the commonwealth.
Taking it to the Supreme
On April 26, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in
Sandoz v. Amgen/Amgen v. Sandoz
regarding an issue of first impression: the interpretation of a law
governing FDA approval of biological products by innovators and
would-be competitors. Paul, Weiss represents biotech pioneer Amgen
in this and other efforts to protect its innovative products from
the so-called "biosimilars"-biologically similar products made by
rivals. The much-anticipated decision is expected to address key
provisions of the law, the Biologics Price Competition and
Innovation Act, a matter of great importance to the
biopharmaceutical industry as a whole.
Taking Concussion Settlement to the End Zone
After six years of litigation, on December 12, 2016, Paul, Weiss
guided the National Football League to a conclusion in the
sprawling class action litigation brought on behalf of 22,000
retired players who suffered alleged impairment from concussions
sustained during their NFL careers. Objecting players challenged
the 2015 landmark settlement; after their appeal was denied in
April 2016, they sought Supreme Court review. But the high court
denied the objectors' petition, paving the way for funds to finally
be paid out to eligible former NFL players this year.
Fighting Gun Violence
In the wake of the Orlando nightclub massacre, Paul,
Weiss was among the first firms to reach out to anti-gun violence
groups to offer legal assistance. In December, the firm teamed up
with six firms and three leading nonprofits in a coordinated
national litigation effort to reduce the epidemic of gun violence.
The effort is "highly unusual in its scale," The New York
Times noted. The initiative will focus on tackling state
courts and regulatory agencies. The firm was recently honored by
both the Brady Center and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence
for its gun violence prevention commitment.
Inking Europe's Largest Tech Deal
Marking the largest deal in the semiconductor
industry's history-and the largest European tech deal ever-San
Diego-based semiconductor giant Qualcomm Incorporated on October 27
announced its $47 billion all-cash pursuit of Netherlands-based NXP
Semiconductors N.V. To lead the deal, Qualcomm relied on Scott
Barshay, Paul, Weiss's global M&A head-who had joined the firm
just weeks earlier from Cravath, Swaine & Moore. In April 2017,
U.S. antitrust regulators approved the combination, which is
expected to close by the year's end.
The Ultimate Deal
In one of the largest sports transactions ever,
WME/IMG and a group of investors including private equity titans
KKR & Co. and Silver Lake Partners announced on July 11 the
multibillion-dollar acquisition of mixed martial arts organization
The Ultimate Fighting Championship. The deal, a major bet on the
power of live sporting events, was the largest for WME/IMG since
William Morris Endeavor acquired sports-and-entertainment marketing
giant IMG in 2013. Paul, Weiss was tapped by the WME/IMG consortium
for the UFC deal as well as the 2013 IMG deal.