2021 Vault Rankings
At a Glance
“The stimulating work.”
“You're always surrounded by impressive, smart, nice, people who genuinely want to see you succeed.”
“Working this many hours isn't for everyone.”
“Lack of transparency in decision-making at management level.”
“The high-deductible health insurance plan.”
About Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP boasts one of the nation’s best and most comprehensive corporate departments, with impressive teams in capital markets, M&A, finance, restructuring, and tax. Its lauded litigation practice includes top-notch civil litigation and white collar criminal defense practices.
Davis Polk was founded by Francis Bangs in 1849, making it one of the oldest law firms in the United States. 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.
Transactional Titans & Litigation Lions
One firm reigns as king atop both Vault’s Banking & Financial Services ranking and Securities/Capital Markets ranking: Davis Polk. The firm clinched the No. 1 spot in both areas in 2015 and has held tight since. DPW’s Capital Markets group has significant experience handling IPOs and high yield and investment grade debt offerings, while its Financial Institutions group advises on a range of matters from M&A to compliance to Dodd-Frank and financial services regulatory reform.
The firm’s strong transactional practices are complemented by its top-notch litigation work. Davis Polk is a regular in the top ten of Vault’s Securities Litigation ranking and is among the top tier of Chambers’, The Legal 500’s, and Benchmark Litigation’s rankings—and for good reason. The firm regularly handles some of the most complex securities litigation around. DPW was a go-to firm for high-stakes litigation stemming from the 2008 financial crisis, represented the owners of the New York Mets in connection with the highly publicized litigation arising from the Madoff liquidation, and successfully argued in the Second Circuit on behalf of the 33 underwriters of the Facebook IPO in an action seeking disgorgement of more than $100 million. And you can’t talk about Davis Polk without mentioning its widely recognized White Collar Criminal Defense group, which handles everything from anti-money laundering and FCPA matters to FCA/qui tam and insider trading, plus much more.
Davis Polk has extensive experience in cross-border work, with ample international reach. The firm has had roots in Europe for more than 50 years, opening its Paris office in 1962, followed by its London office in 1973 and its Madrid office in 2001. A few decades later, the firm set its sights on Asia, opening its Tokyo office in 1987. A Hong Kong office followed in 1993, and in 2007, the firm opened an office in Beijing. The firm’s seventh international office, in São Paulo, opened in 2011. DPW’s lawyers practice U.S., U.K., Hong Kong, and French law.
In 2020, in response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, Davis Polk became the first BigLaw firm to announce that it would pay its summer associates their full summer salary (based on their original time commitment) and to guarantee all summer associates a full-time offer at the end of the program. Davis Polk’s 2020 virtual six week summer program included opportunities to work on a variety of active work matters, learn from over 30 practice area overviews and training programs, and network and engage with firm attorneys and other summer associates during a full calendar of virtual social events.
News & Awards
Davis Polk is advising The Charles Schwab Corporation on its $26 billion all-stock acquisition of TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation, a transaction that will bring together two publicly traded brokers and more than 24 million client accounts with approximately $5 trillion in assets. Announced in November 2019 and expected to close in the second half of 2020, the deal is one of the largest acquisitions in the financial services industry since the 2008 financial crisis.
Davis Polk secured a first-of-its kind class action settlement on behalf of its client, the Tezos Foundation, in cases filed in state and federal court in California alleging that a cryptocurrency fundraiser constituted an alleged illegal offering of securities. This is the first settlement of its kind seeking to apply principles previously used in settlements of traditional securities litigation matters to the area of cryptocurrency.
For 2019, Davis Polk’s corporate practices once again dominated the league table rankings:
- Capital Markets—1st in 16 U.S. categories (Refinitiv)—more than any other firm
- Finance—1st in overall M&A volume and lender M&A volume (Refinitiv)
- Restructuring—1st in total restructuring advisory mandates (Debtwire)
- M&A—2nd in completed global M&A (Refinitiv)
Davis Polk, working with the Legal Aid Society, secured the release of pro bono client Carlos Weeks, who served 26 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of second-degree murder and first-degree assault. Mr. Weeks had steadfastly maintained his innocence in the case, which arose out of a July 1993 shooting in the Tompkins Housing Projects in Brooklyn.
- Davis Polk advised the underwriters on Apple’s IPO. (1980)
- Davis Polk advised long-time client J.P. Morgan & Co. on its $38.6 billion merger with Chase Manhattan Bank to form JPMorgan Chase. (2000)
- Davis Polk represented Siemens AG in what was the largest FCPA investigation in U.S. history. (2008)
- Davis Polk advised the underwriters of SoftBank’s $23.5 billion IPO, the largest-ever IPO in Japan. (2018)
- Gold Standard Firm, 2019—Women in Law Empowerment Forum
- Transatlantic M&A Team of the Year, 2019—Legal Week
- Banking & Finance Law Firm of the Year, 2019—Chambers USA
- International Deal Firm of the Year, Japan Law Awards, 2019—Asian Legal Business
- Equity Team of the Year, 2019—IFLR Americas Awards
450 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Phone: (212) 450-4000
Managing Partner: Neil Barr
Hiring Partners: Maurice Blanco & Dana M. Seshens
Total No. Attorneys 2020:
1K - 1.5K
No. of Partners Named 2020:
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
Cristóbal V. Modesto
Chief Legal Recruiting Officer
No. of U.S. Offices: 3
No. of International Offices: 7
New York, NY (HQ)
Antitrust & Competition
Derivatives and Structured Products
Intellectual Property & Technology
Mergers & Acquisitions
Trusts & Estates
White Collar Criminal Defense
*See firm website for complete list of practice areas and industries.