2019 Vault Rankings
“The collegiality among the associates”
“Complex, high-quality work”
“No billable-hours requirement”
“Work allocation can be uneven”
“Behind the curve on remote working policies”
Willkie has all the history you could ask for and then some. The firm’s clients have ranged from inventors to industrial titans to elite financial institutions, and its attorneys have included presidential candidates, Supreme Court justices, and governors. While the firm has just over 700 lawyers across the U.S. and Europe, it has established itself as a New York firm through and through.
Politics & Innovation
Tracing its ancestry to 1880s New York City, Willkie began as Hornblower & Byrne, founded in 1888 by two attorneys and two clerks. The elder of the two founding attorneys was William B. Hornblower, a Columbia law grad who attracted such luminaries as Thomas Edison and Ulysses S. Grant as clients.
Toward the end of the 19th century, the firm picked up a new name-partner who would shape the next 40 years: William W. Miller, who was primarily responsible for driving business into the 20th century. During the Miller years, the firm added attorneys of influence to its ranks (including future Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter), worked landmark cases, and merged with Miller, Otis & Farr—another major New York firm. A young Iowan named Harold Gallagher joined as an associate in 1917, made partner in 1925, and continued as a member of the firm for 51 years—the longest any partner has served.
Quality, Not Quantity
In 1941—three years after the firm hired its first female associate—defeated presidential candidate Wendell Willkie came on as partner, pursuing a flurry of high-profile engagements. In the three and one-half years before his death in 1944, Willkie defended Hollywood against a Congressional communist witch hunt, penned a bestselling treatise on international peacekeeping that influenced the formation of the United Nations, and defeated the federal government in a civil liberties case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Despite his brief tenure with the firm, Willkie’s accomplishments ensured that his name would remain etched at the top of the masthead for the rest of the 20th century and beyond. The firm became Willkie Farr & Gallagher in 1968.
A Solid Base from which to Grow
The firm evolved into a preeminent East Coast institution, known for representing railroad and insurance companies, blue-collar manufacturers, telecoms, baseball teams, and oil heiresses. The 1970s brought the arrival of the firm’s first female partner, a merger with a New York municipal bond boutique, and the reopening of the Paris office. During the late 1980s, Willkie thrived as it handled hostile takeovers, expanded to London, and built up existing offices stateside and across the pond. Willkie rang in the new millennium by putting down roots in Milan, Rome, and Frankfurt; a Brussels office followed two years later. In the fall of 2014, Willkie opened an office in Houston, Texas.
Willkie’s impressive client list has included longtime client Bloomberg L.P., insurance giants Marsh and Zurich, TimeWarner, and a slew of other notable names such as Men’s Warehouse, Teva Pharmaceuticals, NBC Universal, BlackRock, Alcatel-Lucent, Comcast Corporation, General Electric, Level 3 Communications, Major League Baseball, MasterCard, and Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
IN THE NEWS
Willkie is acting as independent legal advisor for the AmTrust special committee in the $2.7 billion acquisition of AmTrust in a take-private transaction. AmTrust is a multinational insurance holding company offering specialty property and casualty insurance products.
Willkie represented the Plan Administrator for Lehman Brothers Holdings in the successful resolution of the Lehman multibillion-dollar RMBS litigation, whereby the court issued a decision estimating claims brought by several financial institutions serving as trustees to more than 230 residential RMBS (residential mortgage-backed securities) at $2.38 billion—the amount requested by Willkie on behalf of the Plan Administrator. The RMBS Trustees had argued that the claim was worth at least $11.4 billion. The decision resolved a long-running, complex, multibillion-dollar Lehman legacy case stemming from its 2008 bankruptcy.
Willkie represented Brookfield Business Partners L.P. in its $4.6 billion deal to acquire 100 percent of Westinghouse Electric Company, a leading global provider of infrastructure services to the power generation industry, from Toshiba Corp. An iconic American company, Westinghouse is the largest service provider to the world's nuclear power facilities, with a strong history of innovation.
Willkie represented diversified global retailer Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), the oldest company in North America, in a series of strategic transactions with WeWork Companies, Rhône Capital and an affiliate of WeWork Property Advisors, a joint venture between WeWork and Rhône, to create a multi-faceted strategic relationship designed to maximize the productivity and value of HBC’s global real estate assets and position HBC at the forefront of experiential retailing.
Willkie won reversal and complete dismissal of all charges against the first defendants charged with LIBOR manipulation in a cornerstone case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The court reversed the judgments of conviction and dismissed the indictment of Willkie clients Anthony Allen and Anthony Conti, former Rabobank traders, in the first LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate) manipulation case to reach the Second Circuit (or any court of appeals). Willkie argued the successful appeal on behalf of both defendants.
Willkie successfully represented a 12-year-old Iranian national who, in the face of President Trump’s travel ban, sought entry into the United States for an urgent and time-sensitive surgery needed to save her vision. In a race against the clock a Willkie team helped the child gain entrance to the U.S. for her vital surgery following the temporary halt of the Executive Order barring entry by Iranian nationals. This pro bono case, and the child’s reunion with her mother at JFK Airport, received significant media attention, including a CNN profile.
At Willkie, people are our most valued asset. From the day you start at the Firm as a young lawyer, you are an integral part of the Willkie community and, whether you choose to remain here for the rest of your career or decide to move on to other endeavors, you will always be a part of the Willkie family.
There are many reasons to work at Willkie. At its simplest, our fundamental goal is to provide our attorneys with the highest-quality training, early responsibility and the opportunity to work on challenging and cutting-edge matters in a collaborative environment where people genuinely get along with each other.
787 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10019
Phone: (212) 728-8000
Employer Type: Private
Chairmen: Tom Cerabino & Steve Gartner
Recruiting Chairs: Jeffrey Clark (DC); David Drewes (Chair); Rajab S. Abbassi, Sameer Advani, Amelia A. Cottrell, Matthew J.Guercio, Benjamin P. McCallen, Carly Glover Saviano, Danielle Scalzo (NY); Angela Olivarez, Robert Jacobson (TX)
Total No. Attorneys 2018: 717
New York, NY
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
Summer associate: $3,654/week
59 out of 59 (2Ls) (2017)
New York, NY (HQ)
Antitrust & Competition
Business Reorganization & Restructuring
Communications, Media & Privacy (DC office)
Corporate & Financial Services
Energy & Commodities
Environmental, Health & Safety (DC office)
Executive Compensation & Employee Benefits
Government Relations (DC office)
Insurance & Reinsurance
Mergers & Acquisitions