Ropes & Gray has expanded in every measurable way in the
21st century, acquiring smaller boutique firms in the States while
claiming new turf in Asia and Europe. Known for its corporate and
asset management work, the firm has adapted to law's accelerated
globalization by bolstering practice areas such as intellectual
property, litigation, life sciences, and healthcare.
Branching Out from Beantown
John Codman Ropes and John Chipman Gray, a couple of Harvard Law
School grads, founded the firm in 1865 shortly after the end of the
Civil War. While building the firm into one of the largest and most
powerful in Massachusetts, the "John Cs" simultaneously carved out
continued independent success: Ropes served as an assistant U.S.
Attorney and became a leading military historian, while Gray was a
highly influential professor at Harvard Law School for four
In the 21st-century global expansion has defined the firm as it
serves a client base across industries including private equity,
asset management, technology, health care and life sciences. Ropes
& Gray has experienced particularly strong growth in the
world's financial capitals of New York and London. The firm is now
one of the 20 largest in New York, with more than 300 lawyers, and
more than 130 in London.
Continuing to expand the firm's geographic reach, Ropes &
Gray opened six offices between 2007 and 2013, in Chicago, London,
Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai, and Seoul. The latter four served to
expand the private equity practice considerably, accommodating the
needs of clients increasingly looking to invest in Asian markets.
There was expansion on the home front as well, as the Boston office
relocated to the top floors of Prudential Tower. Ropes' share of
the "Pru" amounts to more than 400,000 square feet (about eight
football fields) and is LEED certified.
From Microchips to Private Equity
In recent years, Ropes & Gray's litigation practices,
including its intellectual property group, have tried seminal cases
with far-reaching impact.
The firm's general litigation practice has been on a roll
recently, helping win a big jury trial for Goldman Sachs in a case
closely watched by the media, and representing a number of clients
in several high-profile data breach cases, including The Home
Depot, Target, Wyndham Hotels and Neiman Marcus. The firm's
appellate group argued five recent cases before the Supreme Court,
including a seminal case for the mutual funds industry and the
landmark marriage equality case in 2015. The litigation practice
has been bolstered in recent years by a strong government
enforcement group, which has made a name for itself with
high-profile anti-corruption work in China, including leading an
internal investigation for GlaxoSmithKline. The firm also secured a
favorable resolution in the prosecution of former BP engineer Kurt
Mix relating to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, with the
government dropping all obstruction of justice charges against him.
Its IP matters range from touch-screens for video games to patents
covering high-performance computer chips, and computer-driven
annuities, and Ropes & Gray has been recognized by leading
publications for its achievements. Recently the firm won
high-stakes patent cases for Apple and Samsung at the appellate
As Ropes' litigation practices boom, its private equity practice
continues to push forward. Led by partner and firm chairman Brad
Malt-who founded the firm's private equity group-Ropes & Gray
has built up a strong leveraged buyout practice, in addition to
impressive financial services and asset management practices. The
firm's private equity clients include many of the world's largest
private equity firms, including Audax Group, Bain Capital,
Berkshire Partners, KarpReilly, HIG Capital, TPG Capital, Thomas H.
Lee Partners, TSG Consumer Partners, Silver Lake Partners, and
Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe. The firm is counsel for more
than 1,000 mutual funds (or their directors). Ropes & Gray is
also among the top firms in structuring IPOs, representing both
issuers and many of the leading underwriters.
Pro Bono Pros
In addition to the impressive variety of its practices, Ropes
& Gray is devoted to carrying on its tradition of pro bono work
and community service. Associates and partners work in a range of
areas-including child abduction cases, housing and homelessness,
voting rights, nonprofit incorporation, immigration, and asylum-and
for a variety of organizations-such as Immigration Equality,
Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, Accion, Human Rights First and
Veterans Consortium. High-impact opportunities from the past year
included the firm's role arguing for marriage equality at the U.S.
Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges, and the historic
resolution of a multi-year class action litigation that sparked
meaningful prison reform at New York City's Rikers Island jails.
The firm recently engaged in a global effort to combat human
trafficking, involving lawyers in Hong Kong, London, and the United
States. Associates tempted by a life of public service can take a
break from the corporate grind and diversify their skill set by
participating in secondments such as through the District
Attorney's Office Assistant DA Program, through which Ropes
associates work as special assistant district attorneys for six
months, or a six-month externship in the housing unit of a legal