2021 Vault Rankings
At a Glance
“There is no billable-hour requirement.”
“Commitment to pro bono.”
“Extremely smart people.”
“Hours can be rough.”
“Informal mentorship is more hit-or-miss.”
About Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
For decades, 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 entertainment law.
Paul, Weiss, 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. Weiss’ son Louis took a different approach and went into business with Columbia Law 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.
From its 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 before SCOTUS. 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 powerhouse.
One of the Greats
Paul, Weiss is home to one of the nation’s preeminent litigation departments, playing a lead role in defending global banks during and after the financial crisis and currently representing many of the world’s best-known companies in significant litigation and regulatory matters. Paul, Weiss also boasts a formidable corporate practice, with a top-notch M&A group and a private equity group that handles deals and funds work for Apollo, one of the world’s most prolific buyout firms, among others. Its bankruptcy department is also among the nation’s elite, advising some of the country’s largest distressed companies, investors, and creditor groups.
Pro Bono in the Blood
Civil rights work is part of the DNA of Paul, Weiss, dating back to its work on the “Scottsboro Boys” trials and Brown v. Board of Education to challenging the Defense of Marriage Act through United States v. Windsor. Today, the firm is active in racial justice efforts and assistance for those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as in immigrant rights, reproductive rights, and voter protection efforts. Its pro bono efforts have not gone unrecognized—the firm was named to the 2020 National Law Journal’s Pro Bono Hot List and was also ranked among the top 10 firms by The American Lawyer’s 2020 Pro Bono Survey.
News & Awards
Paul, Weiss welcomed a number of remarkable partners to the firm in 2019 and 2020, including former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch; Jeannie Rhee, a leading member of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office; top Supreme Court advocate Kannon Shanmugam; deal veterans Sarah Stasny and Laura Turano; and renowned trial lawyers Karen Dunn and Bill Isaacson. And former partner Andrew Finch returned from the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, where he was the number-two official.
The firm represented the petitioner in the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in June 2020, Seila Law v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, holding that the President has the authority to fire at will the director of the CFPB. While striking the provision barring the President from removing the sole director except for cause, the Court left the rest of the statute that created the agency intact.
In March 2020, Paul, Weiss established a searchable online resource, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Relief Center, to assist individuals and small businesses most harmed by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Representing the largest pro bono mobilization in the firm’s history, it has involved more than 400 Paul, Weiss lawyers who have collected, digested, organized, and synthesized information on roughly 1,600 emergency relief programs offered by federal, state, and local governments, as well as by the philanthropic sector. Scores of thousands have visited the site, which allows them to select programs by geographical area; view an index of programs; and learn about each program’s eligibility requirements, guidance for accessing benefits, contact information, and other resources.
Paul, Weiss advised the special committee of the board of directors of CBS in its high-profile merger with Viacom to form ViacomCBS, completed in December 2019. The combined company has an enterprise value of more than $40 billion and brings together some of the most iconic names in media.
- Paul, Weiss successfully defended Citigroup at trial alleging that Citigroup aided and abetted in the massive fraud at Parmalat; in 2008, jurors rejected the $2 billion claim, awarding Citigroup $364 million on its counterclaim.
- Paul, Weiss secured the Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Windsor in 2013, which led to the recognition of the constitutional right of same-sex couples to be married.
- Paul, Weiss led the defense of the NFL in lawsuits by 5,000-plus former NFL players over alleged concussion- related injuries, obtaining a landmark settlement in 2013.
- Paul, Weiss lawyers helped free the Scottsboro Boys, winning reversal of their conviction in the Supreme Court in 1932.
- Ranked 10th on The American Lawyer “A-List,” 2019
- Litigation partners Theodore Wells, Jr. and Former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson listed as Most Influential Black Lawyers, 2018—Savoy Magazine
- A top-25 Most Diverse Law Firm for 18 consecutive years, with two number-one rankings—The American Lawyer’s “Diversity Scorecard”
- Ranked Band 1 in nine practice areas, 2020—Chambers USA
- Litigation partners Claudia Hammerman and Loretta Lynch and corporate partner Amran Hussein listed as “Notable Women in Law,” 2019—Crain’s New York Business
1285 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10019-6064
Phone: (212) 373-3000
Firm Chair: Brad S. Karp
Deputy Chair: Valerie E. Radwaner
Hiring Partners: Catherine Nyarady & Neil Goldman
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
7th year: $325,000
8th year: $340,000
9th year+: $350,000
Summer Associate: $3,700/week
Pamela N. Davidson
Chief Legal Personnel and Recruitment Officer
No. of U.S. Offices: 3
No. of International Offices: 5
New York, NY (HQ)
Capital Markets & Securities
Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation
Media, Sports & Entertainment
Mergers & Acquisitions
White Collar & Regulatory Defense
*See firm website for complete list of practice areas and industries.