Cravath, Swaine & Moore

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
Headquarters Worldwide Plaza
New York City
No. of offices 2
No. of attorneys 472
Major practice areas General Corporate, Mergers & Acquisitions, Securities and Banking, Litigation, Tax, Executive Compensation, Trusts and Estates
Key people

C. Allen Parker
Evan R. Chesler

Faiza Saeed
Revenue Increase US$ $666.5[1]
Date founded 1819
Founder Richard M. Blatchford [2] and William H. Seward
Company type Limited liability partnership

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP (known as Cravath) is an American law firm based in New York City, with an additional office in London. The firm was founded in 1819.


The firm arose from two predecessor firms, led by Richard M. Blatchford in New York City, and William H. Seward in Auburn, New York, respectively.[3] In 1854, these firms merged to form the firm of Blatchford, Seward & Griswold. Named partner Samuel Blatchford had been appointed to the United States Supreme Court in 1882 by President Chester Arthur, and served for 11 years until his death. Named partner Seward later served as both Governor and then Senator from New York. As Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln, Seward kept Britain and France from intervening during the Civil War by threatening war,[4] supported the 1865 passing of the Thirteenth Amendment, and in 1867, under Andrew Johnson, he negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia in a transaction contemporaries derisively called "Seward's Folly." Paul Drennan Cravath, who joined the firm in 1899, developed and instituted the "Cravath System", which combines a distinctive way of approaching the hiring, training and compensation of lawyers. In 1944, after a series of name changes, the name Cravath, Swaine & Moore was established and has not been altered since.

Cravath has represented some of America’s great inventors, from Samuel F.B. Morse in the late 1840s, Cyrus McCormick, Elias Howe, and Charles Goodyear in the 1850s, to Thomas Edison in the 1880s.[5][6] Some current client relationships that began in the 1800s are with CBS, JPMorgan, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.[7][8][9] The firm has had a long record of clients in the US railroad industry beginning with the New York & Erie and Union Pacific railroads, and express delivery businesses such as Adams, Southern, and Wells Fargo.[10][11][12] Its 19th century history includes the 1808 insanity defense of William Freeman for the murder of John G. Van Nest, the 1848 Jones v. Van Zandt challenge to the constitutionality of slavery, and the Pollock v. Farmers' Loan and Trust Company tax case of 1895.[13][14][15][16] Cases of mention before the Supreme, appellate and Chancery courts in more recent decades have been Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. and Westfed Holdings Inc. v. United States, and City of Providence v. First Citizens BancShares Inc. et al. Important litigation work with IBM has included two landmark antitrust cases, one of which was a 13-year battle dubbed by Time magazine as “the case of the century."[17][18][19][20][21][22]

The firm has represented entities in the United Kingdom and Europe since the 1820s from the Bank of England, to landmark public offerings by EU predecessors since the 1950s.[23][24] Entities such as HM Treasury, Grupo Modelo, Santander, and HDFC Bank are among more recent international clients.[25][26][27][28] 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.[29] The firm's restructuring work traces back to clients such as Goodyear in 1921.[30] After their 1916 reorganization of corporations lectures before the Bar of the City of New York, Paul D. Cravath and William D. Guthrie were reviewed to be "men of wide experience in these matters," and several of their partners including Alexander I. Henderson and Robert T. Swaine "ranked among the leaders of the reorganization bar."[31][32][33][34]

In November 2014, Cravath handled three M&A transactions in one day, spanning advertising, spirits, and pharmaceutical industries; and acted as legal advisor in a recently announced deal backed by 3G Capital and Berkshire Hathaway Inc. that will create the third-largest food and beverage company in North America.[35][36] Other significant representations have included legal work necessary to form NBC, 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. In the past several decades Cravath has represented 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 was ranked the #1 law firm in the 2017 Vault Law 100.[37] Chambers and Partners ranks Cravath in the top tier among U.S. law firms for Banking & Finance, Capital Markets (Debt & Equity), Corporate/M&A (The Elite), Environment (Mainly Transactional), Media & Entertainment (Corporate), Securities Litigation, General Commercial Litigation (The Elite) and Tax.[38]


In 2015, Cravath was ranked eighth in The American Lawyer's annual listing of highest profits per partner.[39]

Cravath was ranked 52nd on the Am Law 100, which lists the firm by revenue. The 2014 gross revenue was $648m. Revenue per lawyer was $1.465m and profits per partner were $3.365m.[40]


Under the Cravath System, the firm is known for focusing its hiring on associates straight from law school, with a strong emphasis on grades, then over years of apprenticeship rotations, immersing them in details of every aspect of corporate law practice.[41] Under this philosophy, lateral hires are rare, with some exceptions. In 2005, Cravath hired Andrew W. Needham, formerly a tax partner at Willkie Farr & Gallagher,[42] 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. Before that, Roswell Magill, a former Treasury Department official, became a Cravath tax partner in 1943. In 2007, the firm brought in Richard Levin from Skadden, Arps to boost its new bankruptcy practice.[43] In 2011, Cravath hired Christine A. Varney, a former U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division for the Obama Administration.[44] In 2013, the firm hired David Kappos, who served as the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.[45][46]

Notable current and former employees

The firm has numerous alumni in business, the law, academia, publishing, cinema, and government service.


  1. "American Lawyer Profile". Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  2. Charles Lanman (1876). Biographical Annals of the Civil Government of the United States: During Its First Century. From Original and Official Sources. J. Anglim. pp. 38–.
  3. Robert T. Swaine (April 2012). The Cravath Firm and Its Predecessors, 1819-1947. The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. pp. 2–. ISBN 978-1-58477-713-7.
  4. Michael Burlingame (September 14, 2012). "The Patriot-Statesman". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 6, 2015.
  5. "MIT Institute Archives & Special Collections, Historical Patent Records from the Blatchford, Seward & Griswold Collection (1841-1910)". Retrieved April 13, 2015.
  6. Lawrence M. Friedman (1 June 2005). A History of American Law: Third Edition. Simon and Schuster. pp. 486–. ISBN 978-0-7432-8258-1.
  7. Quentin R. Skrabec (2007). George Westinghouse: Gentle Genius. Algora Publishing. pp. 190–. ISBN 978-0-87586-507-2.
  8. Gharnow, Ron (2001). The House of Morgan. New York, New York: Grove Press.
  9. David Grayson Allen; Kathleen McDermott (1 January 1993). Accounting for Success: A History of Price Waterhouse in America, 1890-1990. Harvard Business Press. pp. 11–. ISBN 978-0-87584-328-5.
  10. Robert T. Swaine (April 2012). The Cravath Firm and Its Predecessors, 1819-1947. The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. pp. 327–. ISBN 978-1-58477-713-7.
  11. George Martin (1 January 1997). Causes and Conflicts: The Centennial History of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, 1870-1970. Fordham Univ Press. pp. 8–. ISBN 978-0-8232-1735-9.
  12. Austin Abbott; Benjamin Vaughan Abbott (1872). Abbott's Practice Cases. J.S. Voorhies. pp. 458–.
  13. "Cayuga County Courthouse and the Case that Helped Establish the Insanity Defense in New York". Spring 2007. Retrieved April 13, 2015.
  14. Hall, Benjamin F. (1848). The trial of William Freeman for the murder of John G. Van Nest. Auburn: Derby, Miller & Co. Retrieved April 13, 2015.
  15. Junius P. Rodriguez (1 January 1997). The Historical Encyclopedia of World Slavery. ABC-CLIO. pp. 383–. ISBN 978-0-87436-885-7.
  16. Harvard Law Review. Harvard Law Review Pub. Association. 1911. pp. 36–.
  17. Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. (Supreme Court of the United States April 17, 2013). Text
  18. Westfed Holdings Inc. v. United States (United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit May 12, 2005). Text,
  19. City of Providence v. First Citizens BancShares Inc. et al. (The Delaware Court of Chancery September 8, 2014). Text
  20. "Business: The Case of the Century", Time, May 21, 1979, retrieved April 10, 2015
  21. Margolick, David M. (January 18, 1982). "For Cravath, Life After I.B.M.". New York Times. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  22. Kermit L. Hall; David S. Clark (2 May 2002). The Oxford Companion to American Law. Oxford University Press. pp. 408–. ISBN 978-0-19-508878-6.
  23. D. Grier Stephenson (2003). The Waite Court: Justices, Rulings, and Legacy. ABC-CLIO. pp. 133–. ISBN 978-1-57607-829-7.
  24. Rasmussen, Morten (December 2010). "Constructing and Deconstructing Constitutional European Law: Some reflections on how to study the history of European law" (PDF). Europe. The New Legal Realism. Europe. The New Legal Realism, DJØF Publishing: Århus, 2010. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  25. "Legal Newswire – Cravath Represents HM Treasury In Recapitalization Plan For Three UK Banks". October 17, 2008. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  26. Scott, Mark (June 29, 2012). "Brewer to Buy Remaining Stake in Grupo Modelo". DealBook. The New York Times. Retrieved April 17, 2015.
  27. "Santander Consumer USA Holdings Inc. (SC) IPO". January 23, 2014. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
  28. Brennan, Tom (February 6, 2013). "Cravath Acts on Indian Lender HDFC's $1.6B Share Sale". The Asian Lawyer. Retrieved February 25, 2015.
  30. Poor's Cumulative Service. Poor's Publishing House. 1921. pp. 131–.
  31. Robert C. Perez; Edward F. Willett (6 June 1995). Clarence Dillon: A Wall Street Enigma. Madison Books. pp. 3–. ISBN 978-1-4617-1383-8.
  32. The Nation. J.H. Richards. 1917. pp. 641–.
  33. James Byrne; Paul Drennan Cravath; George Woodward Wickersham; Gilbert Holland Montague; William Dameron Guthrie (1917). Some Legal Phases of Corporate Financing, Reorganization and Regulation. Macmillan. pp. 153–.
  34. David A. Skeel Jr. (24 April 2014). Debt's Dominion: A History of Bankruptcy Law in America. Princeton University Press. pp. 102–. ISBN 978-1-4008-2850-0.
  35. "Cravath Handles Trio of Big-Ticket Deals", Lawdragon, November 6, 2014, retrieved April 20, 2015
  36. Giammona, Craig; Boyle, Matthew (March 25, 2015), "Kraft Will Merge With Heinz in Deal Backed by 3G and Buffett", BloombergBusiness, retrieved April 20, 2015
  37. Chambers and Partners
  38. "Firms Ranked by Profits Per Partner". The American Lawyer. Retrieved 2016-03-18.
  39. "Firm profile". American Lawyer.
  40. William D. Henderson (July 2009). "The Bursting of the Pedigree Bubble" (PDF). NALP Bulletin. 21 (7).
  41. Cravath Hires Tax Partner, Its First Lateral in Decades
  42. Cravath starts a bankruptcy practice
  43. Lattman, Peter; de la Merced, Michael (June 6, 2011). "Cravath to Hire Antitrust Chief". New York Times. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
  44. Lattman, Peter (February 6, 2013). "Cravath Hires a 2nd Official From Obama Administration". New York Times. Retrieved February 6, 2013.
  45. Jones, Ashby (February 6, 2013). "Cravath Plucks Former PTO Chief David Kappos". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 19, 2015.

Further reading

External links

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