2019 Vault Rankings
“Atmosphere of utmost professionalism, personal respect, and compassion”
“Lack of partnership prospects”
“Can be a little cheap on perks”
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, founded in New York City more than 165 years ago, has finance in its DNA. The firm boasts one of the nation's best and most comprehensive corporate departments, with impressive teams in capital markets, M&A, credit, bankruptcy, and tax. Its highly-regarded litigation practice—which includes a top-notch white-collar criminal defense team—also has deep roots: in his long career, name partner John Davis argued more than 250 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.
On the Coattails of the Robber Barons
Davis Polk dates back to 1849, making it one of the oldest law firms in the United States. Original founder Francis Bangs made his name opposing the legendary Boss Tweed and his Tammany Hall cronies. Bangs' successor, Francis Stetson, was quick to recognize the growing importance of corporate work. In 1887, banker and industrialist John Pierpont Morgan selected Stetson for his chief counsel—the firm helped Morgan restructure the Pennsylvania Railroad and create General Electric. Morgan's businesses, in their modern day incarnations—JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley—have remained firm clients. Over the course of many decades, the firm has built relationships with a host of other financial institutions and corporations across the country and around the world.
Davis Polk’s flair for the international is well established. The firm has expanded across Europe, opening its Paris office in 1962, its London office in 1973, and its Madrid office in 2001. In 2007, Davis Polk opened an office in Beijing, its third Asian office after Hong Kong and Tokyo. The firm’s seventh international office, in São Paulo, opened in 2011.
Under managing partner Tom Reid, expect the firm to continue doing what it does best: thriving overseas and representing leading corporations and major financial institutions. Reid, who hails from Scotland himself, took a hiatus from law to join the investment banking division of Morgan Stanley in London before returning to the firm in 2003, bringing back loads of capital markets, M&A, and corporate governance business with European blue-chip companies and financiers. Approximately 50 percent of the firm’s principal clients are non-U.S. companies or governments.
Staying on Top
Davis Polk emerged swinging from the 2008 economic downturn, gobbling up resulting M&A and restructuring work while its PPP continued to rise—all without dumping or driving away associates. Since then, the firm has advised on precedent-setting matters in the banking industry, such as guiding GE Capital to become the first nonbank to shed its “systemically important” designation, and historic transactions like Spotify’s groundbreaking direct listing on the NYSE (Davis Polk advised Spotify’s financial advisors) and the largest-ever M&A transaction in the healthcare industry (Aetna’s $77 billion proposed acquisition by CVS Health). It’s clear Davis Polk knows how to successfully weather any storm.
Davis Polk’s litigators are no slouches either. Known for their elite trial work in general commercial, white-collar, securities, IP and antitrust, they successfully argued in the Second Circuit on behalf of the 33 underwriters of the Facebook IPO in an action seeking disgorgement of over $100 million; achieved back-to-back wins for Comcast in patent litigation against Sprint, including appellate affirmances overturning a $27.6 million jury verdict in favor of Sprint; and obtained declinations for Cisco in SEC and DOJ investigations into potential FCPA breaches related to business activities in Russia. The go-to firm for high-stakes litigation stemming from the financial crisis, Davis Polk also represented the owners of the New York Mets in connection with the highly publicized litigation arising from the Madoff liquidation.
IN THE NEWS
At the 2018 IFLR Americas Awards, International Financial Law Review named Davis Polk “Americas Law Firm of the Year.” The firm also took home the awards for High Yield Team of the Year and Restructuring Team of the Year, and was recognized for its work on the High Yield Deal of the Year, M&A Deal of the Year, and Restructuring Deal of the Year.
Davis Polk advised the financial advisers to Spotify on the company’s groundbreaking direct listing on the NYSE.
Facebook announced a $35 million settlement of class-action litigation related to its initial public offering—bringing to a close nearly six years of litigation and resolving all claims against Davis Polk’s clients, the IPO’s underwriters. It follows Davis Polk’s successful argument at the Second Circuit in a related action that led to one of the most important rulings for IPO underwriters and the market at large in the past decade.
Law360 named five Davis Polk practices as “Practice Groups of the Year” for 2017: Banking, Bankruptcy, Capital Markets, M&A, and Tax. It is the fifth consecutive win for our M&A and Banking teams, and fourth consecutive win for Capital Markets.
The American Lawyer honored Davis Polk partner Bonnie Chan as a “Dealmaker of the Year” for her role advising Chinese tech giant Tencent on a first-of-its-kind IPO and spinoff of subsidiary China Literature, and honored partner Jim Rouhandeh as a “Litigator of the Year” for a landmark Fifth Circuit ruling he obtained on behalf of a law firm client in a multibillion-dollar class action related to the Stanford Ponzi scheme.
Davis Polk advised on the largest-ever healthcare transaction and the largest M&A deal of 2017: Aetna’s $77 billion acquisition by CVS Health.
Davis Polk successfully resolved one of the largest FCPA matters in history for its Swedish telecom client Telia, and brought to a close investigations by U.S., Swedish, and Dutch authorities.
Davis Polk provides the experience and environment that help you develop into a world-class lawyer, no matter where your career takes you. From your first day, you’ll be involved in complex and meaningful matters, working side by side with some of the best lawyers in the world. We offer an experience like no other – collaborative, challenging and inspiring – and we give you the skills and knowledge to become a leader in your field.
Who We Are
450 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Phone: (212) 450-4000
Employer Type: Private
Managing Partner: Thomas J. Reid
Hiring Partners: Maurice Blanco & Dana Seshens
Total No. Attorneys 2018: 1,030
1st year: $190,000
2nd year: $200,000
3rd year: $220,000
4th year: $255,000
5th year: $280,000
6th year: $305,000
Summer associate: $3,700/week
135 out of 135 (2Ls) (2017)
New York, NY (HQ)
Antitrust & Competition
Derivatives and Structured Products
Intellectual Property & Technology
Mergers & Acquisitions
Trusts & Estates
White Collar Criminal Defense