2022 Vault Rankings
- New York#1
At a Glance
“The complexity of the work.”
“Working with some of the smartest and driven lawyers in the country.”
“Lack of transparency.”
“The hours are very long.”
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. 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.
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.
When it comes to M&A, Wachtell Lipton reigns supreme, holding the No. 1 spot in Vault’s M&A ranking for more than a decade. It also regularly places among the top 10 firms in Vault’s General Corporate, Private Equity, and Banking & Financial Services rankings. The firm was involved in the death’s door resuscitation of Chrysler in the 1970s. It 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 11, 2001.
See You in Court
The firm’s litigators are no slouches either, complementing Wachtell Lipton’s corporate practice with high-profile securities, corporate governance, and takeover matters. The firm’s notable cases are many, including Morrison v. National Australia Bank—in which the Supreme Court determined that Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act applies solely to those U.S. securities purchased and sold in the United States—and Martin Marietta Materials, Inc. v. Vulcan Materials Co. in which the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the order to enjoin a hostile takeover of the firm’s client based on improper use of confidential materials.
In response to Covid-19, the firm moved seamlessly to a remote environment and has continued to meet the needs of our clients through this challenging time. We offered a full-length, full-scope summer program entirely remotely in 2020, and we gave offers to return as full-time associates to all of the 2L participants in the summer program. We welcomed a full class of new associates in the fall of 2020, onboarding, orienting and training them remotely. In 2021, we hosted our second, full-length, full-scope summer program and were able to invite the summer associates to an end-of-summer reception in New York. We look forward to working with the schools where we recruit to interview law students for our 2022 summer program.
News & Awards
- Wachtell Lipton has repeatedly contributed to major evolutions in corporate law in order to advance the interests of its clients. Among other things, Wachtell Lipton originated the shareholder rights plan, or “poison pill"; invented novel two-tiered price structure to resolve antitrust-risk impasse in the $11.3 billion Valspar/Sherwin-Williams merger; and structured the first cross-border “Morris Trust" transaction between SmithKline Beckman and Beecham
- Wachtell Lipton has been involved in the transactions giving rise to most of the landmark corporate governance decisions in Delaware (and elsewhere), including the Corwin, Arconic, Allergan, Airgas, Sotheby’s, Vulcan Materials, Household, Time Warner, and QVC decisions
- Following the financial crisis in 2008, Wachtell Lipton represented the United States Treasury in connection with the rescues of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
- Wachtell Lipton is the leading firm for appraisal litigation defense, including winning PetSmart, the largest appraisal case in Delaware history. The firm also played a central role in the litigation related to the tragic events of 9/11 and a leading role in the redevelopment of the World Trade Center.
- Dealmakers of the Year, 2020: Victor Goldfeld, Trevor Norwitz, Andy Nussbaum—The American Lawyer
- Corporate Department of the Year, 2020—The American Lawyer
- Corporate Governance Firm of the Year, 2020—Who’s Who Legal
- Practice Groups of the Year, 2020: M&A, Benefits, and Technology—Law 360.
- Wachtell Lipton ranked first overall in Mergermarket and Dealogic legal advisory rankings. (Principals Only).
Why Work Here
Wachtell Lipton is dedicated to providing advice and expertise at the highest levels and to achieving extraordinary results for our clients. We seek individuals who are talented, motivated and committed in order to maintain our record of excellence. Our associates, paralegals and administrative staff are critical to this mission. Our lawyers and staff work closely together across departments comprising an elite legal team. We are committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment.
Wachtell Lipton is an equal opportunity employer. As such, it adheres to an employment policy that prohibits discriminatory practices or harassment against applicants or employees based on any legally impermissible factor(s) including, but not necessarily limited to, race, color, religion, creed, sex, national origin, age, citizenship, marital status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, disability or any protected military or veteran status.
51 West 52nd St.
New York, NY 10019
Phone: (212) 403-1000
Executive Committee Co-Chairs: Edward D. Herlihy & Daniel A. Neff
Hiring Partners: By committee
Total No. Attorneys (2021):
250 - 500
No. of Partners Named 2021:
1st year: $207,500/yr (with raise to $210,000/yr on Jan. 1)
Summer Associate: $4,000/week
Elizabeth F. Breslow
Director of Recruiting & Legal Personnel
No. of U.S. Offices: 1
No. of International Offices: 0
New York, NY
Executive Compensation & Benefits
Restructuring & Finance
*See firm website for complete list of practice areas and industries.