Cravath, Swaine & Moore

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Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
Cravath, Swaine & Moore
Headquarters Worldwide Plaza
New York City
No. of offices 2
No. of attorneys approximately 500 [1]
Major practice areas General Corporate, Mergers & Acquisitions, Securities and Banking, Litigation, Tax, Executive Compensation, Trusts and Estates
Key people C. Allen Parker
Evan Chesler
Revenue Increase US$ $614 million [2]
Date founded 1819
Founder Richard M. Blatchford 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. Cravath was founded in 1819 and ranks second among the most prestigious law firms in the United States according to some surveys.[3] [4]


The firm arose from two predecessor firms, respectively located in New York City and Auburn, New York. In 1854, these firms merged to form the firm of Blatchford, Seward & Griswold. Named partner Samuel Blatchford later served on the United States Supreme Court. Named partner William H. Seward later served as both Governor and later Senator from New York. He 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. In 1944, after a series of name changes, the name Cravath, Swaine & Moore was established and has not been altered since.

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.[5]


Cravath was ranked #2 in the 2013 Vault law firm "overall rankings." The firm consistently ranks within the top 3 on numerous specialty rankings, including Antitrust, Corporate, Litigation, Mergers & Acquisitions, Securities and Tax.[6] 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.[4]

In 2014, Cravath was ranked sixth in The American Lawyer's annual listing of highest profits per partner.[7][1]


The firm is known for focusing its hiring on associates straight from law school; lateral hires are rare at any level. 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. 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.[9] In 2011, Cravath hired Christine A. Varney, a former U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division for the Obama Administration. 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.[10]

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