- White shoe firm
White shoe firm is a phrase used to describe the leading professional services firms in the United States, particularly firms that have been in existence for more than a century and represent Fortune 500 companies. It typically—but not always—refers to banking, law and management consulting firms, and frequently refers to firms in New York City and Boston.
- 1 Etymology and Definition of Charmed Circle
- 2 Examples of white-shoe firms
- 3 Other uses of the term
- 4 Related phrases
- 5 Notes and references
- 6 External links
Etymology and Definition of Charmed Circle
According to William Safire, the phrase derives from "white bucks," laced suede or buckskin shoes with a red sole, long popular among upper-class New Englanders, especially at Ivy League colleges. Originally, it reflected a stereotype of old-line firms populated by WASPs, but the phrase has since become innocuous. However, it is still defined by Princeton University's Wordnet as "denoting a company or law firm owned and run by members of the WASP elite who are generally conservative," which shows that the original connotation has not changed entirely.
Examples of white-shoe firms
The following firms are often referred to as being white-shoe firms:
Banks, investment banks, and merchant banks
- Bache & Company, acquired by Prudential Securities and later Jefferies & Company
- Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.
- Dillon, Read & Co., acquired by Swiss Bank Corporation (later UBS)
- Drexel & Company, merged with Burnham & Company to form Drexel Burnham Lambert (defunct)
- First Boston, acquired by Credit Suisse
- G.H. Walker & Co., acquired by White Weld & Co. (later Merrill Lynch)
- Hayden, Stone & Co., acquired by Shearson, later Shearson Lehman Hutton
- Hornblower & Weeks, acquired by Loeb, Rhoades & Co., later Shearson Lehman Hutton
- J.P. Morgan & Co.
- J. & W. Seligman & Co., spun-off investment banking Union Securities, operates as investment management company
- Kidder, Peabody & Co., acquired by General Electric and later Paine Webber
- Morgan, Grenfell & Co., acquired by Deutsche Bank
- Morgan Stanley, spun-off from J.P. Morgan & Co.
- Roosevelt & Son, liquidated
- Salomon Brothers, acquired by Citigroup
- S. G. Warburg & Co., acquired by Swiss Bank Corporation (later UBS)
- White Weld & Co., acquired by Merrill Lynch
- Arnold & Porter
- Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft
- Cravath, Swaine & Moore
- Covington & Burling
- Davis Polk & Wardwell
- Debevoise & Plimpton
- Dewey & LeBoeuf
- Hogan & Hartson merged with Lovells LLP into Hogan Lovells.
- Jones Day
- Latham & Watkins
- Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy
- Ropes & Gray
- Shearman & Sterling
- Sidley Austin
- Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett
- Sullivan & Cromwell
- White & Case
- Willkie Farr & Gallagher
The "new" white-shoe banks
While the term "white-shoe" historically applied only to those law firms populated by WASPs, usage of the term has since been expanded to other top-rated prestigious firms. Many of these firms were founded as a direct result of the exclusionary tendencies of the original white-shoe firms, which provided limited opportunities for Jewish and Catholic lawyers, as well as other non-WASPs.
The "new" white-shoe law firms
- Cahill Gordon & Reindel
- Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton
- Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson
- Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
- Kaye Scholer
- O'Melveny & Myers
- Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison
- Proskauer Rose
- Schulte Roth & Zabel
- Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
- Steptoe & Johnson 
- Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
- Weil, Gotshal & Manges
Note: while these firms are known rather undisputedly as the top strategy consulting firms, some contended that such firms as A.T. Kearney, Booz & Company, Arthur D. Little, and Monitor Group should also be considered white shoe. Rankings of these firms in Vault and Consulting Magazine varied from year to year, but they have never dethroned the top firms in overall rankings.
Other uses of the term
A similar term in Australia, "white shoe brigade", has been used in the past to describe a group of Queensland property developers who backed, and benefitted from, former Queensland State Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen. The term is a contemptuous allusion to the lower social class antecedents of such men, revealed by their gaudy and tasteless choice of clothing, which included brightly coloured or patterned shirts, slacks with white stripes or in pastel shades, and shoes and belts of white leather, these often having gold or gilt buckles. A strong-smelling aftershave was often worn, as well. They became known for shady deals with the government concerning property development, often with dire consequences for heritage buildings. 
- Magic circle, seen as the five (or six) top law firms in the United Kingdom; also used to describe the top four Commercial Chambers at the Bar
- Global Quartet or Big Four, referring to members of the Magic Circle other than Slaughter and May as it has not, in general, pursued a policy of international expansion
- Seven Sisters, referring to the seven Canadian law firms considered to be the top tier
- Big Six, referring to six Australian law firms perceived to be the top tier
- Big Three, referring to three Texas law firms considered to be the top tier
- Big Five, referring to the five largest law firms in South Africa
- MBB, referring to the three most prestigious management consulting firms worldwide (McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group, and Bain & Company)
Notes and references
- ^ Safire, William (2003). No Uncertain Terms: More Writing from the Popular "On Language" Column in The New York Times Magazine. ISBN 0743258126.
- ^ Safire, William (November 9, 1997). "On Language; Gimme the Ol' White Shoe". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1997/11/09/magazine/on-language-gimme-the-ol-white-shoe.html.
- ^ "white-shoe". WordNet. Princeton University. http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=white-shoe.
- ^ Surowiecki, James (1998-06-15). "White-Shoe Shuffle". New York. New York Media LLC. http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/bizfinance/columns/bottomline/2813/. Retrieved 2008-06-01.
- ^ Timmons, Heather; Christopher Palmieri (2002-01-21). "The Perils of J.P. Morgan". BusinessWeek. McGraw-Hill. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/02_03/b3766089.htm. Retrieved 2008-06-01.
- ^ "Morgan Stanley's 'white-shoe' dissidents continue war of attrition". Finfacts Ireland. April 17, 2005. http://www.finfacts.com/irelandbusinessnews/publish/article_10001406.shtml.
- ^ Goldfarb, Zachary (March 17, 2008). "Bringing Together AOL's Ad Network". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/16/AR2008031602214.html.
- ^ Stracher, Cameron (March 24, 2000). "The Law Firm's New Clothes". New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C01E0D6143DF937A15750C0A9669C8B63.
- ^ Lin, Anthony (February 6, 2007). "Does the Future Belong to Cadwalader?". New York Law Journal. http://www.law.com/jsp/llf/PubArticleLLF.jsp?id=1170682662248.
- ^ Martinez, Jose (March 3, 2006). "Shoes are whiter than most in city". NY Daily News (New York). http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/news/2006/03/03/2006-03-03_shoes_are_whiter_than_most_i.html.
- ^ Rost, Peter (September 12, 2007). "Covington & Burling, a Pfizer law firm, caught cleaning up its reputation on Wikipedia". BrandweekNRX. http://www.brandweeknrx.com/2007/09/covington-burli.html.
- ^ Moyer, Elizabeth (October 26, 2005). "Dimon Woos Mergers Lawyer Hersch To JPMorgan". Forbes.com. http://www.forbes.com/facesinthenews/2005/10/26/jpmorgan-dimon-hersch-cx_em_1026autofacescan06.html?partner=yahootix.
- ^ Labaton, Stephen (September 24, 1989). "Rainmaker: Mario Baeza of Debevoise". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1989/09/24/magazine/rainmaker-mario-baeza-of-devevoise.html.
- ^ van der Pool, Lisa (July 18, 2008). "Dewey & LeBoeuf’s local head count drops post-merger". Boston Business Journal. http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/stories/2008/07/21/story8.html.
- ^ Dougherty, Carter. "The Israeli Connection". VirtualCXO. http://virtualcxo.net/bizforwardarticle.html.
- ^ http://www.jdjournal.com/2009/01/22/blog-latham-watkins-a-doj-feeder-firm/
- ^ Weiss, Gary (March 4, 2002). "Commentary: Et Tu, Enron Lawyers?". Businessweek. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/02_09/b3772098.htm.
- ^ Qualters, Sheri (August 29, 2007). "Humor Helps the Firm Go Video". The National Law Journal. http://www.law.com/jsp/lawtechnologynews/PubArticleLTN.jsp?id=900005489772.
- ^ "Shearman & Sterling, 1999 Edition". Vault.com. http://www.vault.com/career/Shearman___Sterling__1999_Edition.html.
- ^ Nelson, Katie (November 2, 2009). "NY Daily News". New York. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2009/11/02/2009-11-02_brian_schroeder_.html.
- ^ "Chicago Tribune". November 11, 2009. http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/chicago-law/2009/11/lawyers-from-the-white-shoe-corporatefirm-of-sidley-austin-probably-dont-find-themselves-in-cook-county-criminal-court-too-of.html.
- ^ "Simpson Thacher & Bartlett". Vault.com. http://www.vault.com/career/Simpson_Thacher___Bartlett.html.
- ^ Schneider-Mayerson, Anna (February 18, 2007). "Associate Gets Crushed Beneath White Shoe". New York Observer. http://www.observer.com/node/36757.
- ^ White & Case LLP
- ^ Morgan, Spencer (April 7, 2009). "Andy Spade Is a Giant in New York". New York Observer. http://www.observer.com/2009/style/andy-spade-giant-new-york.
- ^ Grant, Peter (December 1, 1998). "Goldman Sachs Buys Share of Parking Garage Firm". Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-5619877_ITM.
- ^ Sorkin, Andrew Ross (December 11, 2005). "They're All Paying Customers to Wall Street". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/11/business/yourmoney/11DEAL.html.
- ^ Gendar, Alison (September 14, 2009). "Straight-shooter judge could break up Junior Gotti's perfect game". NY Daily News (New York). http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2009/09/14/2009-09-14_straightshooter_judge_could_break_up_junior_gottis_perfect_game.html.
- ^ Rubinstein, Dana (July 24, 2008). "It's Complicated: Insurance Firm Spills Space Gobbled by Former UBS President, Cleary Gottlieb". New York Observer. http://www.observer.com/2008/real-estate/cleary-gottlieb-and-former-swiss-banking-bigwig-expand-manhattan-holdings-arch-insu.
- ^ Gray, Geoffrey (December 15, 2003). "Charity Busters". City Limits. http://www.citylimits.org/content/articles/viewarticle.cfm?article_id=3011.
- ^ "Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP". Vault.com. http://www.vault.com/wps/portal/usa/companies/company-profile?companyId=392.
- ^ Maillard, Kevin (April 22, 2009). "What happens when your bickering children annoy you and you are a partner at a White Shoe NYC firm?". The Faculty Lounge. http://www.thefacultylounge.org/2009/04/what-happens-when-your-bickering-children-annoy-you-and-you-are-a-partner-at-a-white-shoe-nyc-firm.html.
- ^ Selvin, Molly (May 19, 2006). "Who Wins This Case? Lawyers". LA Times. http://articles.latimes.com/2006/may/19/business/fi-crime19.
- ^ Gertner, Jon (January 15, 2006). "What Is a Living Wage?". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/15/magazine/15wage.html.
- ^ Stull, Elizabeth (May 23, 2007). "Gay Couple Sues Landlord for Discrimination". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. http://www.maketheroad.org/article.php?ID=336.
- ^ "Business - Minding your MANNERS". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. June 9, 2002. http://www.lubbockonline.com/stories/060902/bus_0609020012.shtml.
- ^ Lin, Anthony (May 16, 2006). "Can the 'Jewish Law Firm' Success Story Be Duplicated?". New York Law Journal. http://www.law.com/jsp/law/careercenter/lawArticleCareerCenter.jsp?id=1147696528718.
- ^ "Why Work for Proskauer Rose LLP?". Vault.com. http://vault.com.cn/companies/whyus/whyus_main.jsp?wu_page=2&product_id=412&ch_id=242&tabnum=6.
- ^ Donohue, Pete (December 11, 2005). "MTA Pays Big Shots To Fight A Strike". NY Daily News (New York). http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/news/2005/12/11/2005-12-11_mta_pays_big_shots_to_fight_.html.
- ^ Hamilton, Brad (April 18, 2004). "Ammon Judge in a Co-author 'Conflict'". New York Post. http://www.judicialaccountability.org/articles/diamondnyjudgeprobedbyfbi.htm.
- ^ "Milestones in an Ambitious Career: 1992". New York Times. March 10, 2008. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2008/03/10/us/20080310_SPITZER_FEATURE.html#.
- ^ "Girl Trouble". New York Magazine. October 16, 2000. http://nymag.com/nymetro/nightlife/singles/features/3938/.
- ^ "IRS punts on secret $6 billion bailout for Puerto Rico: 2011". The Daily Caller. April 4, 2011. http://dailycaller.com/2011/04/04/irs-punts-on-secret-6-billion-bailout-for-puerto-rico/#ixzz1ZLzHyZuZ.
- ^ Weiss, Debra Cassens (August 19, 2009). "Wachtell Nabs Top Spot Again In Prestige Rankings". ABA Journal. http://www.abajournal.com/news/wachtell_nabs_top_spotagain--in_prestige_rankings.
- ^ Belkin, Lisa (January 24, 2008). "Who’s Cuddly Now? Law Firms". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/24/fashion/24WORK.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1.
- ^ Sargent, Greg (September/October 2005). "The Ricochet". Mother Jones. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2005/09/ricochet.
- ^ Fitzgerald, Patrick (March 13, 2009). "SunCal Lawyer Whacks Weil". Wall Street Journal. http://blogs.wsj.com/bankruptcy/2009/03/13/suncal-lawyer-whacks-weil/.
- ^ Dempster, Quentin (April 23, 2005). "Sir Johannes Bjelke-Petersen: Corrupt populist". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. http://www.abc.net.au/news/indepth/featureitems/s1348134.htm. [dead link]
- ^ Gard, Stephen (1994). Fantastic Australians. Kangaroo Press. ISBN 0864175884.
- Etymology, de novo Blog, December 18, 2004
- Origin of phrase, Phrase Finder forum, June 25, 2005
- Chambliss, Elizabeth (September–October 2005). "Terms of Art". Legal Affairs. http://www.legalaffairs.org/issues/September-October-2005/toa_sepoct05.msp.
- Lin, Anthony (May 16, 2006). "Can the 'Jewish Law Firm' Success Story Be Duplicated?". New York Law Journal. http://www.law.com/jsp/law/careercenter/lawArticleCareerCenter.jsp?id=1147696528718.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.