Cravath, Swaine & Moore

Cravath, Swaine & Moore
Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
Cravath, Swaine & Moore
Headquarters New York City
No. of offices 2
No. of attorneys 500+ attorneys
Major practice areas Corporate, Litigation, Tax, Executive Compensation and Trusts and Estates
Key people Evan Chesler, Presiding Partner
Revenue increase US$ 569 Million (2009)[1]
Date founded 1819
Founder Richard Blatchford and William H. Seward
Company type Limited liability partnership

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP (“Cravath”) is a prominent American law firm based in New York City, with an additional office in London. The second oldest firm in the country, Cravath was founded in 1819 and consistently ranks first among the world's most prestigious law firms according to a survey of partners,[2] and second among the world's most prestigious law firms according to a survey of associates.[3]



The firm arose from two predecessor firms, one in New York City and one in Auburn, New York. In 1854 these firms merged to form the firm of Blatchford, Seward & Griswold. Name partner Samuel Blatchford later served on the United States Supreme Court. Name partner William H. Seward later served as both governor of and a senator from New York, then became Secretary of State under Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. In 1867, he negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia in a transaction contemporaries derisively called "Seward's Folly." Paul Drennan Cravath joined the firm in 1899. He instituted the "Cravath System". The system combines a distinctive way of approaching the hiring, training and compensation of lawyers. After a series of name changes, the Cravath, Swaine & Moore name was made permanent in 1944.

Cravath has represented high profile businesses, from United Airlines in its merger with Continental Airlines, the world's largest airline, to Unilever in its acquisition of Alberto Culver. In 2010, its litigation department won summary judgment for Morgan Stanley on its breach of contract claim against Discover Financial Services. In a subsequent settlement, Discover agreed to pay Morgan Stanley $775 million to resolve the litigation. In the same year they successfully represented Barnes & Noble in a landmark "poison pill" trial. Past clients ranged from Samuel F.B. Morse, the inventor of the telegraph to corporations such as IBM, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and CBS. It also performed the legal work necessary to form NBC. More recent decades have seen Cravath represent Netscape in its antitrust suit against Microsoft, resulting in a $750 million settlement; major merger and acquisition deals, such as the DuPont-Conoco merger, the Ford-Jaguar merger, the Bristol-Myers-Squibb merger, the Time-Warner merger, and the AOL-Time-Warner merger; and two famed libel suits: defending Time Inc. against Israeli General Ariel Sharon, and also defending CBS against U.S. Army General William Westmoreland.

Unlike others, Cravath has remained relatively small. Its approximately 500 lawyers are located primarily in the New York Office, with just a few dozen in the London office, which opened in 1973. Cravath drew attention to its bankruptcy practice on November 10, 2010 by offering free representation in advance of a likely Chapter 9 filing for Harrisburg, PA. [4]


The firm consistently ranks at or near the top of various industry surveys, such as the Partner (#1, 2009) and Associate (#2, 2009) prestige surveys. It consistently ranks within the top 3 on numerous specialty rankings, including Antitrust, Corporate, Litigation, Mergers & Acquisitions, Securities and Tax.[5] Chambers and Partners ranks Cravath in its top tier for Banking & Finance, Capital Markets (Debt & Equity), Corporate/M&A, Environmental, Media and Entertainment, Securities and General Commercial Litigation and Tax.[6]

In 2010, Cravath was ranked fifth in The American Lawyer's annual listing of highest profits per partner. [7]


Entry to the firm is highly selective, generally open to only the most academically successful students from the most elite law schools in the United States and Canada.

The firm is known for focusing its hiring on associates straight from law school; lateral hires are rare at the associate level and new partners are almost never taken on. In 2005, Cravath hired Andrew W. Needham, formerly a tax partner at Willkie Farr & Gallagher,[8] as the first lateral partner since Herbert L. Camp, also a tax partner, from the now-defunct Donovan Leisure Newton & Irvine in 1987. Camp, however, had previously been a Cravath associate and is therefore not considered a true lateral because he started his career there; the last true lateral at the firm was Roswell Magill, a former Treasury Department official, who became a Cravath tax partner in 1943. In 2007, the firm brought in Richard Levin from Skadden, Arps to boost its new bankruptcy practice.[9]

Famous current and former employees


Government service






Further reading

  • Swaine, Robert T. (2007) [1948]. The Cravath Firm and Its Predecessors: 1819-1947. Clark, NJ: Lawbook Exchange. ISBN 1584777133. 

External links

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