Debevoise & Plimpton

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Debevoise & Plimpton
Debevoise & Plimpton
Headquarters 919 Third Avenue
New York City
United States
No. of offices 8 Total
No. of attorneys 644 (2011)
Major practice areas Mergers and acquisitions, litigation and arbitration, corporate finance, corporate restructuring, securities law, banking, project finance, energy and infrastructure, antitrust, tax and intellectual property, among others[1]
Key people Michael W. Blair Presiding Partner
Revenue Increase $688.2 million (2013)[2]
Date founded 1931
Company type L.L.P.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP (often shortened to Debevoise), founded in 1931, is a prominent international law firm based in New York City. The firm is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious firms (in New York[3] and globally[4]), and ranks among the most elite[5] and successful firms globally.[6] The firm is also one of the most selective in its attorney hiring.[7]

Founded in 1931 by Harvard alumnus Eli Whitney Debevoise and Oxford-trained William Stevenson, Debevoise has been a long established leader in strategic and private equity, M&A, insurance and financial services transactions, private funds, complex litigation/investigations and international arbitration. In recent years, its practice has taken on an increasingly international component. The firm currently employs approximately 650 lawyers in eight offices throughout the world. Debevoise is the only law firm to have both a former US and UK Attorney General simultaneously as partners (Michael Mukasey in the US and Lord Goldsmith QC in the UK).[8]

Debevoise placed No. 1 overall in The American Lawyer's "10-Year A-List," a ranking of the law firms who have earned the highest cumulative score on the A-List since its inception in 2003. The annual A-List ranks firms according to their performance in four categories: revenue per lawyer, pro bono service, associate satisfaction and diversity.[9] Debevoise, either intentionally or not, has crafted a culture that favors polite intellectualism. Where at many firms the focus is just on getting the job done, many Debevoise attorneys pride themselves on intellectual curiosity and the grander pursuit of law.[10] The rare firm culture at Debevoise is often hailed as one of the most collegial in the country, which cherishes the relations between associates and partners. Chambers Associate described Debevoise as very much the "Gentleman of the world of BigLaw".[8]

Reputation and Rankings[edit]

Debevoise & Plimpton is consistently among the most profitable large law firms in the world on a per-partner and per-lawyer basis according to the American Lawyer’s annual AmLaw 100 Survey. The firm and its lawyers have also been recognized in various other surveys, including’s 2011 review of the 20 Best Law Firms to Work For.

  • Debevoise was ranked fifth in the 2011 A-List and the only firm included among the top seven in each of the nine years of the survey. In 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007, Debevoise & Plimpton was named as America's Best Law Firm by the American Lawyer in its A-List rankings.
  • For 2011, Debevoise & Plimpton was ranked #12 on The Vault’s Top 100 Most Prestigious Law Firm Rankings.
  • Recognized in 54 categories, including 8 practice areas in the top band, in Chambers Global 2011: The World's Leading Lawyers for Business.
  • Recognized in 49 categories, including 9 practice areas in the top band, in Chambers USA 2011: America's Leading Lawyers for Business.
  • Recognized in 28 categories, including 8 practice areas in the top tier in The Legal 500 United States 2011.
  • Ranked in the top 20 on various Avery Index rankings, including No. 20 Most Family Friendly Firms, No. 11 Happiest Associates, No. 16 Highest Paid Associates, No. 4 Most Dedicated to Pro Bono Work, and No. 5 on the Perfect Law Firm.
  • ALM's The American Lawyer named Debevoise & Plimpton as 2014 Litigation Department of the Year. As profiled in the January issue and online at, “the Debevoise litigators are like the Army Rangers—a small but elite group that works seamlessly and handles the most challenging cases,” racking up two $25 billion results, two major trial defense wins worth $3.5 billion each, and the largest investor-state award in arbitration history during the August 2011 to July 2013 period on which firms were evaluated.[11]

Debevoise & Plimpton is a sponsor of the Louvre Museum in Paris and a founding member of the Cercle Louvre Entreprises.

Other Mentions[edit]

Until the 1990s, Debevoise & Plimpton's most public milestone was as the law firm whose attorney Edward Cochrane McLean represented Alger Hiss.[12] [13] "Eli Whitney Debevoise, 90, a prominent attorney whose law firm represented Alger Hiss in the late 1940s..."[14]"Later, Mr. Debevoise would play a leading role in the firm's representation of Alger Hiss."[15] "Debevoise, whose law firm represented Alger Hiss in the late 1940s, died Saturday."[16]

In the 2000s, Debevoise & Plimpton was mentioned several times on the TV show The West Wing. In the show, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman's father was a partner at Debevoise. Additionally, an assistant attorney general in the show was a summer associate at Debevoise and a prospective White House counsel candidate was interviewing for a position as an associate at Debevoise.

Controversial Georgian businessman, Badri Patarkatsishvili spent six hours of his final day at the offices of Debevoise & Plimpton, meeting his lawyer Lord Goldsmith QC, shortly before being driven to Boris Berezovsky's office in Mayfair and then to his country mansion in Leatherhead, Surrey where he collapsed and died of a heart attack at the age of 52.

Key Clients[edit]

Some of Debevoise's clients include: AIG, American Airlines, American Express, AXA, BNP Paribas, The Carlyle Group, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, The Coca-Cola Company, CNN, Delta Air Lines, Deutsche Bank, Gap, Goldman Sachs, Hasbro, International Paper, JPMorgan Chase, Kelso & Company, MetLife, National Football League, National Hockey League, NBC, The New York Times Company, Providence Equity Partners, Prudential Financial, Polyus Gold, Siemens, Shell Oil Company, Sony Corp., Universal Music Group, Verizon, Yahoo!.


  • Provided American, English and German law advice to Air Liquide in a number of acquisitions in Germany totaling €2.68 billion.
  • Represented Chrysler in 1980, serving as a lead counsel to get governmental financing.
  • Represented in sale of 40% stake to Yahoo for $1 billion.
  • Represented American Airlines after the September 11 terrorist attacks
  • Counseled The Hartford in a $1.95 billion capital offering of common stock and debt.
  • Legal adviser to the Phelps Dodge mining corporation in its $25.9 billion merger with Freeport-McMoRan.
  • Legal service provider to French company Pernod Ricard in its €5.6 billion purchase of the Absolut Vodka brand from the Government of Sweden's holding company, the V&S Group.
  • Advised AIG in its agreement to sell its share of Nan Shan Life Insurance Company, Ltd. to a consortium for approximately $20.15 billion, the biggest deal in the history of the Taiwan financial sector.
  • Lead role on Verizon's $49 billion US bond issue, one of the largest in debt sale history.
  • Representing JPMorgan Chase in various civil lawsuits.

Assistance to Guantanamo Prisoners[edit]

Attorneys from Debevoise & Plimpton worked on behalf of prisoners held in extrajudicial detention in the United States Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba.[17][18][19] Jeff Lang, of Debevoise & Plimpton, was one of the first Guantanamo Bay attorneys to file an appeal in the Federal appeal court in Washington DC of prisoners' Combatant Status Review Tribunal proceedings. The Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 included provision for prisoners to challenge whether the Tribunals' decisions complied with the Tribunal's mandate.

Charles "Cully" Stimson, then Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs, stirred controversy when he went on record criticizing the patriotism of law firms that allowed employees to assist Guantanamo prisoners: "corporate CEOs seeing this should ask firms to choose between lucrative retainers and representing terrorists." [20] Stimson's views were widely criticized. The Pentagon disavowed them and Stimson resigned shortly thereafter.

Defending Take-Two[edit]

Debevoise & Plimpton has the lead role defending Take-Two Interactive Software against a lawsuit filed by actress Lindsay Lohan. In the lawsuit Lohan claims that Take-Two Interactive Software is in breach of her image rights after it based a character in Grand Theft Auto V without her consent. Claiming unspecified damages on privacy grounds, citing an "unequivocal" similarity between herself and the game's character, Lacey Jonas alleging that her voice and items from her clothing label were lifted by the Take-Two Interactive.[21]

In response Take-Two Interactive has accused Lohan of suing in order to gain publicity, and states her claim, "legally meritless."[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Practices - Debevoise & Plimpton". 
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  8. ^ a b
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  12. ^ "Debevoise & Plimpton History". Funding Universe. Retrieved 30 December 2014. 
  13. ^ "Alger Hiss letter to Eli Whitney Debevoise, 1950 February 20, New York". OCLC WorldCat. Retrieved 30 December 2014. 
  14. ^ "Eli Whitney Debevoise; Law Firm Represented Alger Hiss". Los Angeles Times. 2 July 1990. Retrieved 30 December 2014. 
  15. ^ Hevesi, Dennis (1 July 1990). "Eli Whitney Debevoise Dies at 90; Co-Founder of a Top Law Firm". New York Times. Retrieved 30 December 2014. 
  16. ^ "Eli Whitney Debevoise". Orlando Sentinel. 2 July 1990. Retrieved 30 December 2014. 
  17. ^ Shayana Kadidal (May 16, 2007). "Getting Rid of Lawyers at Guantanamo: An Update". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2008-01-19. 
  18. ^ "The Pro Bono Tradition at Debevoise". Debevoise & Plimpton. Retrieved 2008-01-19. 
  19. ^ Emma Schwartz (May 15, 2007). "The Latest Guantanamo Debate". Legal Times. Retrieved 2008-01-19. 
  20. ^ Lewis, Neil (2007-01-13). "Official attacks top law firms over detainees". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-01-17. 
  21. ^ a b Cash, Justin. "Debevoise takes on Lindsay Lohan in Grand Theft Auto court battle". Legal Week. Incisive Financial Publishing. Retrieved 16 September 2014. 

External links[edit]