2019 Vault Rankings
- Real Estate#17
“Commitment to pro bono”
“The cutting-edge work”
“Brilliant, wonderful people”
“Partnership prospects are severely limited”
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.
Diverse to the Core
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, so many formed firms of their own. Weiss's son Louis took a different tack—after graduating from Columbia Law, he went into business with a 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.
The firm’s focus on diversity continued. Paul, Weiss was the first New York firm to hire a black associate and was the first major New York law firm to make a woman partner. The words of longtime partner Simon H. Rifkind remain entrenched in the firm’s statement of principles: “We are sensitive to the fact that we practice in New York City, which is a pluralistic community and the major international and financial center of the Western world. We believe in maintaining, by affirmative efforts, a membership of partners and associates reflecting a wide variety of religious, political, ethnic, and social backgrounds, characteristic of that community.” Paul, Weiss continues to make serious efforts to hire and retain a diverse mix of lawyers and support staff through the work of the firm’s Diversity Committee and programs such as its annual Diversity Networking event.
With Liberals and Justice for All
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 (which inspired Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird) before the United States Supreme Court. Named partners 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.
Trial Size Gets Huge
The firm grew through the 1960s and 1970s, expanding from litigation, tax, and entertainment law to include corporate clients. It continued to be involved in the kinds of cases that defined their times, from the earliest environmental lawsuits to the "salad oil scandal," in which major financial institutions, including American Express, got caught up in a fraudulent loan scheme involving a New Jersey vegetable oil company. In the 1980s, the firm developed a white-collar defense practice—star attorney Arthur Liman defended corporate raider Carl Icahn, mutual-fund embezzler Robert Vesco, and junk bond dealer Michael Milken.
Paul, Weiss Today
Though smaller than many of its rivals, Paul, Weiss has increased in size, revenue, and profitability for the past decade. Its litigation department remains among the nation’s preeminent practices, 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 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.
IN THE NEWS
Traditional radio broadcasters have fallen on hard times since the emergence of Internet-based music services. In November, one of the country’s largest, Cumulus Media, tapped Paul, Weiss to help it reorganize its business, which comprises radio stations in 90 markets, including venerable news/talk station KABC and classic rock mainstay KLOS in Los Angeles; iconic rock stations KFOG and KSAN in San Francisco; and one of the nation’s oldest stations, WABC, in New York. In May, Cumulus secured approval of a financial restructuring plan that will trim more than a billion dollars in Cumulus’s debt—and keep the music playing.
Four years ago, Paul, Weiss negotiated a historic $1 billion settlement for the NFL, which was facing litigation on behalf of more than 5,000 retired players who allege they suffered cognitive impairments as a result of the professional sport. More than 15,000 former players have already registered for the settlement program, finalized in 2017. As of May 2018, nearly $200 million had been distributed to eligible retired players. The firm continues to represent the NFL in implementing the program and defends the league in litigation by approximately 75 former players who opted out of the settlement.
Paul, Weiss juggled some of the past year’s largest M&A deals, including two involving semiconductor giant Qualcomm. The firm is advising the U.S. chipmaker in its $47 billion acquisition of Dutch rival NXP. European regulators gave the deal a thumbs-up in January; in February, Paul, Weiss was tapped by Qualcomm again, this time to defend it from a hostile $130 billion bid by Singapore-based Broadcom. Broadcom’s pursuit of Qualcomm—which Techcrunch termed “multi-dimensional chess” and a “real-life Game of Thrones battle for supremacy”—ended March 12, when President Trump, responding to national security concerns, nixed the deal.
After 16 years’ incarceration and five trials, Selwyn Days was acquitted in the 1996 double murder of a New York millionaire and his home-health aide. The acquittal, after two trials ended in a hung jury and two others were reversed on appeal, vindicated the defense that Days, a disabled African-American man with a history of psychiatric illnesses, had been coerced to admit to a crime he did not commit. After the judge in Days’ prior trial rejected testimony by an expert on false confessions, Paul, Weiss appealed, winning the right to call the expert and securing his freedom at trial.
As institutional and private investors of all stripes flocked to private equity buyout funds in 2017, Leon Black’s Apollo Global Management, one of the world’s most prominent asset managers, closed the biggest buyout fund in history. The $24.7 billion flagship fund, which eclipses the previous record set by Stephen Schwarzman’s Blackstone Group in 2007, will help Apollo pursue mega-deals across a range of industries. Leading the fundraising effort: Paul, Weiss, which has long represented the private equity giant in raising new funds.
Global banks are facing a wave of investigations of alleged lapses in complying with international money-laundering and sanctions laws. Paul, Weiss helped longtime client Citigroup avert significant reputational and financial exposure in a matter involving its Banamex USA unit, which regulators concluded had failed to heed red flags concerning thousands of suspicious money transfers to Mexico and inadequately monitored some $8.8 billion in other remittances. The settlement, which included a $97.44 million penalty, no criminal charges, and no independent monitor, was hailed as a landmark outcome by The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
Paul, Weiss is one of the world’s leading law firms because of the fantastic legal talent we attract from the best law schools in the country. We welcome motivated and talented law students who want to achieve the highest level of excellence in lawyering and to practice in a stimulating and collegial environment. See what your career looks like at Paul, Weiss as a corporate or litigation attorney.
- A firm of many strengths: Paul, Weiss is a firm of more than 900 lawyers who collaborate with clients to help them solve their most challenging legal problems and achieve their business goals. The firm is widely recognized for its market-leading public company M&A, private equity, litigation, white collar and regulatory defense, and bankruptcy and restructuring practices. View some of the firm’s recent work.
1285 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10019-6064
Phone: (212) 373-3000
Employer Type: Private
Firm Chair: Brad S. Karp
Deputy Chair: Valerie E. Radwaner
Hiring Partners: Catherine Nyarady & Neil Goldman
Total No. Attorneys 2018: 1,016
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
111 out of 111 (2Ls) (2017)
New York, NY (HQ)
Bankruptcy & Corporate Reorganization
Capital Markets & Securities
Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation
Mergers & Acquisitions
Media, Sports & Entertainment
White Collar & Regulatory Defense