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Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz is a law firm that operates out of a single office in New York City. The firm is known for corporate law, regularly handling large and complex transactions. On both a profit per lawyer, and profit per equity partner basis, it is the most profitable law firm in the world.
New York City, United States
|No. of offices||1|
|No. of attorneys||277|
|Major practice areas||General practice|
|Revenue||US$1.01 billion (2020)|
|Company type||General partnership|
- 1965 — The firm is founded in New York City.
- 1970s — Name partner Leonard Rosen participates in securing financing to rescue New York during the 1970s fiscal crisis.
- 1980 — As part of its growing banking practice, the firm serves 15 lending institutions that loaned money to save Chrysler.
- 1981 — The firm acts as legal adviser to Curtiss-Wright in Curtiss-Wright Corporation v. Kennecott Corporation.
- 1982 — Name partner Martin Lipton creates the poison pill defense against tender-based hostile takeovers.
- 1989 — Name partner George Katz passes away at 57.
- 2000s — The firm represents the leaseholder of the World Trade Center in trials with its property insurers to secure the funds to rebuild the site after the September 11 attacks.
- 2000s — The firm represents the United States Department of the Treasury in connection with the rescues of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
- 2012 — Firm partners help advise Knight Capital Group in securing a $400 million-financing from Jefferies Group, The Blackstone Group, Stifel, etc.
- 2018 — The firm nabs the top spot among law firms in the United States in profits per partner with a 2018 PPP of $6,530,000.
- 2019 — The firm secures the top spot as legal adviser for global mergers and acquisitions, based on dollar value, with a combined $585.3 billion in transactions.
The firm was founded in 1965 by Herbert Wachtell and Jerry Kern, who were shortly afterwards joined by Martin Lipton, Leonard Rosen, and George Katz. The four named partners met at New York University School of Law where they were editors on the New York University Law Review together. The firm rose to prominence on Wall Street when many brokers and investment bankers were launching small firms, but received little attention from established white-shoe law firms, such as Sullivan & Cromwell, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, and Cravath, Swaine & Moore.
One of the founding partners, Martin Lipton, invented the so-called "poison pill defense" during the 1980s, to foil hostile takeovers. Working both sides of mergers and acquisitions, Wachtell Lipton has represented blue-chip clients such as AT&T, Pfizer, and JP Morgan Chase. It has had key roles in the resurrection of Chrysler in the 1970s, the acquisition of Getty Oil by Texaco, and the negotiation of the master development agreement for the World Trade Center after the September 11, 2001 attacks. The firm is also known for its business litigation, and has represented clients in many of the precedent-setting Delaware corporate governance cases.
Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz is considered to be the top firm in the United States for major mergers and acquisitions, antitrust and shareholder litigation and corporate restructurings. While many peer law firms have grown and become international brands, Wachtell has only a single, Manhattan office. It is one of the smallest firms in the AmLaw 100, but has the highest per partner profits of any law firm and pays significantly above the "Cravath scale" market rate for associates. The firm pays its partners through a lockstep system, meaning that compensation is tied to firm seniority, rather than hours billed or business brought in. The same is true for associate bonuses. This compensation model has led to the firm being called the "last true partnership."
Along with Skadden, Arps, it was also cited in Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers. Wachtell has been regarded as the "hardest firm in the U.S. to get a job in." As of 2020, the U.S. News & World Report has ranked Wachtell as a tier 1 law firm in national and regional rankings in several practice areas: Banking and Finance Law, Corporate Law, Litigation, and Mergers & Acquisitions.
- William T. Allen, of counsel — former Chancellor of the Delaware Court of Chancery; New York University School of Law professor
- Anthony J. Casey, associate — University of Chicago Law School professor
- James Cole, partner — Acting Deputy Secretary of Education
- Allison Christians, associate — H. Heward Stikeman chair in Taxation, McGill University Faculty of Law
- George T. Conway III, associate and partner — lawyer for Paula Jones in sexual harassment lawsuit against President Bill Clinton, founder of The Lincoln Project, husband of Kellyanne Conway
- Miguel Estrada — attorney and former judicial nominee
- Glenn Greenwald, associate — political activist, journalist, and Pulitzer Prize recipient
- Maura R. Grossman, of counsel — research professor and director of Women in Computer Science at the University of Waterloo; electronic discovery attorney
- Elizabeth Holtzman, associate — former U.S. Representative and Brooklyn District Attorney
- Robert J. Jackson Jr., associate — Commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
- David Lat, associate — blogger, Underneath Their Robes and Above the Law
- Kenneth K. Lee, associate — judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- Matt Levine, associate — attorney, investment banker, and writer
- Robert T. Miller, associate — University of Iowa College of Law professor
- Robert Morgenthau, of counsel — former New York County District Attorney
- Bernard Nussbaum, partner — former White House Counsel to President Bill Clinton
- George Postolos, associate — former President and CEO of Houston Rockets
- Samuel Rascoff, associate — New York University School of Law professor
- Jed Rubenfeld, associate — Yale Law School professor
- Andrew Schlafly, associate — founder of Conservapedia, General Counsel for Association of American Physicians and Surgeons
- Richard J. Sullivan, associate — judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
- Leo E. Strine, Jr., of counsel – former Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court, Chancellor of the Delaware Court of Chancery; University of Pennsylvania Law School professor
- Sheena Wright, associate – former CEO of United Way of New York City, Deputy Mayor of New York City under Eric Adams
- "Wachtell Lipton Rosen Katz". Law.com.
- "Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, USA | Chambers Rankings".
- "The 2021 Global 100: Ranked by Profits per Equity Partner".
- "The Firm".
- Kary, Tiffany; Sandler, Linda; Milford, Phil (April 17, 2014). "Leonard M. Rosen, Wachtell Lipton Co-Founder, Dies at 83". Bloomberg.
- "Newsday | Long Island's & NYC's News Source | Newsday".
- Cassens Weiss, Debra (April 18, 2014). "Wachtell Lipton co-founder Leonard Rosen dies at 83". ABA Journal.
- Cole, Robert J. (29 January 1981). "Kennecott and Curtiss in Pact". The New York Times.
- "Curtiss-Wright Corporation v. Kennecott Corporation, 504 F. Supp. 1044 | Casetext Search + Citator".
- "Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz | Company Profile | Vault.com". Vault.
- "Knight Capital completes $400 million financing | Finance Magnates". 6 August 2012.
- "The 2018 Am Law 100 Ranked by: Profits per Equity Partner".
- "Wachtell Clinches Top Spot as 2019 Global M&A Adviser".
- Cole, Brett (2008). "Godfathers—Flom and Lipton". M&A Titans: The Pioneers Who Shaped Wall Street's Mergers and Acquisitions Industry. Wiley. ISBN 9780470126899.
- "Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz | NYU School of Law". www.law.nyu.edu. Retrieved 2019-10-21.
- Summary of corporate practice.
- "Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz | Company Profile | Vault.com". Vault. Retrieved 2019-10-21.
- See, e.g., Moran v. Household Int'l, Inc., 500 A.2d 1346 (Del. 1985); Paramount Commc'ns, Inc. v. Time Inc., 571 A.2d 1140 (Del. 1989); Air Prods. & Chemicals, Inc. v. Airgas, Inc., 16 A.3d 48 (Del. Ch. 2011).
- "The 2018 Am Law 100 Ranked by: Profits Per Equity Partner". Law.com. The American Lawyer. April 24, 2018. Retrieved August 5, 2018.
- "M&A Power Wachtell Could be 'Last True Law Partnership'". news.bloomberglaw.com. Retrieved 2019-10-21.
- "New Book Reveals Secrets to Joe Flom's Success". amlawdaily.typepad.com. Retrieved 2018-04-16.
- "Keeping a Butterfly and an Elephant in a House of Cards: The Elements of Exceptional Success". pages.stern.nyu.edu. Retrieved 2018-04-16.
- "Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz - Rankings".
- NPR (2014). . Retrieved April 15, 2020.
- American Lawyer (2016). The Wachtell Way of EDiscovery. Retrieved June 16, 2016.
- Lee, Kenneth K. (2019). "Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees" (PDF).
- Matt Levine (2021-03-08). "Libor Is Going Away for Real". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 2021-03-08.
I worked at one of the last remaining unlimited-liability partnerships in the biglaw business.
- New York Times (2010). Dealbook - Wachtell’s Newest Hire: 90-Year-Old Morgenthau. Retrieved May 11, 2010.
- Chen, Vivia (July 9, 2007). "Shhh! Pro Bono's Not Just for Liberals Anymore". The American Lawyer. Retrieved October 31, 2010.
- Sullivan, Richard J. (2018). "Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees" (PDF).