Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz at a Glance


  • “Amazing compensation and benefits”
  • “Support staff is truly outstanding”
  • "Extremely interesting work”


  • “Expectation of being available to work on a moment's notice”
  • “A litigator … will never be considered as valuable as a member of the corporate department”
  • “Work is life and life is work”

The Buzz

  • “King of M&A”
  • “The best”
  • “Rich and exhausted”
  • “Masochistic”

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, Rosen & Katz. 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.

History of Excellence

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.

Historic matters for the firm include the death's door resuscitation of Chrysler in the 1970s. The firm 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 11th.

Hard Times = Cold Cash

Wachtell Lipton's more recent work reflects its dominance as a corporate finance powerhouse as well as the economic climate's provision of M&A and restructuring work. The firm represented Bank of America as it acquired Merrill Lynch, co-advised the U.S. Department of the Treasury when the government took over AIG, and advised the Feds during the takeover of mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.


June 2016
You Better Recognize

The firm was recognized by Who's Who Legal as Firm of the Year for M&A and Corporate Governance. The firm was also recognized as the Best Corporate Law Firm by General Counsel in connection with NYSE Governance Services and FTI Consulting's 15th Annual America's Best Corporate Law Firms Study.

March 2016
It's All in the Defense

For more than seven months starting in April 2015, Mylan pursued a hostile takeover of Wachtell Lipton client, Perrigo. The hostile bid, the largest ever to go to the final tender deadline, involved battles in four countries (US, Ireland, Israel, and the Netherlands) and ended in a successful outcome for Perrigo preserving its independence. The defense highlighted Wachtell Lipton's team approach across the firm's corporate and litigation groups for achieving a successful outcome. Corporate Partner Igor Kirman was featured as an American Lawyer Dealmaker of the Year for his representation of Perrigo. The firm also represented Airgas in its friendly $13.4 billion deal with France's Air Liquide, which followed the firm's successful defense of Airgas in resisting a hostile takeover from Air Products and Chemicals in 2011 for $5.8 billion.

Cutting Deals

David Lam was featured as one of American Lawyer's Dealmakers of the Year for his representation of Pfizer in its $160 billion proposed combination with Allergan, which was the largest announced M&A transaction in 2015 and an inversion transaction that, if completed, would have moved the combined company outside of the United States. After the Pfizer-Allergan agreement was signed, the U.S. Treasury passed regulations that made proceeding with the transaction uneconomical for Pfizer, and David was recognized for his work in structuring the original agreement so that Pfizer had the right to terminate the merger agreement and pay only an unusually small break-up fee to Allergan. The firm represented companies in a number of other significant health care transactions in the past year, including: Abbott Laboratories in its $25 billion acquisition of St. Jude Medical, Alexion Pharmaceuticals in its $8.4 billion acquisition of Synageva BioPharma, Pfizer in its $5.2 billion acquisition of Anacor Pharmaceuticals and Mallinckrodt in its $1.3 billion acquistion of Therakos. 

Real Estate Gets Real

The firm was once again at the forefront of REIT and real estate M&A, representing Sears in the formation of a new $2.5 billion REIT for 254 of its stores, Washington Prime in its $4.25 billion acquisition of Glimcher, the special committee of Starwood Waypoint in its $7.7 billion merger with Colony American Homes, Ventas in its spin-off CCP, Gaming and Leisure Properties in its $5 billion acquisition of Pinnacle's real estate, Gramercy in its $5.7 billion merger with Chambers, among many other transactions.

Bridging the Gap

The firm advised Abbott Laboratories, AbbVie, and XPO Logistics Inc. in financing their acquisitions of St. Jude Medical, Pharmacyclics and Norbert Dentressangle and Conway, respectively, with bridge loan commitments of $17.2 billion, $18 billion and $5.5 billion. The firm also advised AbbVie and XPO in connection with permanent financing related to those transactions, including $16.7 billion of notes for AbbVie and $1.6 billion and €500 million of notes, $1.6 billion of term loans and a $1 billion of asset-backed revolving credit facility for XPO.

Tech Time

The firm is representing Michael Dell in connection with Dell Inc.'s $67 billion acquisition of EMC Corporation, and recently represented AOL in its $4.4 billion sale to Verizon Communications. The firm also represented Square, Inc. and Match Group, Inc. (whose portfolio includes Tinder, OkCupid and Match) in their recent IPOs.

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Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz

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


  • Employer Type: Private
  • Executive Committee Co-Chairs: Edward D. Herlihy & Daniel A. Neff
  • Total No. Attorneys 2016: 255

  • Base Salary
    New York, NY
    1st year: $185,000
    Summer associate: $3,550/week

  • Summer Associate Offers
    31 out of 31 (2Ls) (2015)

  • Major Departments & Practices
    Restructuring & Finance
    Executive Compensation & Benefits

Major Office Locations

  • New York, NY