Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison

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This article is about the law firm. For other uses of Paul Weiss, see Paul Weiss (disambiguation).
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison
Headquarters 1285 Avenue of the Americas
New York City
No. of offices 7 (New York City, Washington, D.C. and Wilmington, United States; Toronto, Canada; London, United Kingdom; Tokyo, Japan; Beijing and Hong Kong, China)
No. of attorneys more than 500
Major practice areas Antitrust, Bankruptcy & Corporate Reorganization, Communications & Technology, Corporate, Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation, Entertainment, Environmental, Intellectual Property, Litigation, Personal Representation, Real Estate, Tax
Revenue Increase $780 million (2011)[1]
Date founded Predecessor firm founded in 1875
Company type limited liability partnership

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP is a law firm headquartered on Sixth Avenue in New York City. The firm is well-established in corporate, personal representation, entertainment law and litigation practices, and won the honor of having the "litigation department of the year for 2006", according to The American Lawyer.[1] The firm is also noted for corporate work in mergers and acquisitions (especially in the private equity arena), capital markets regulation, investment funds formation, high-yield debt offerings, bankruptcy and corporate reorganization, employee benefits and executive compensation, finance, intellectual property, real estate and tax law.

In 2010 Paul, Weiss was ranked the sixth most profitable law firm in the United States in terms of profits per partner.[2]

In addition to its headquarters in New York, Paul, Weiss maintains offices in Washington, D.C., Wilmington, Delaware, Toronto, London, Tokyo, Beijing and Hong Kong.


Paul, Weiss traces its roots to a firm founded by Samuel Weiss, father of name partner Louis S. Weiss, in 1875, and to this day continues to represent descendants of the clients of Samuel Weiss. When Samuel Weiss died in 1910, his eldest son William Weiss joined with one of Samuel Weiss's associates Charles B. Cole and two others to continue his father's practice under the name of Goldsmith, Cohen, Cole & Weiss. In 1914, the firm moved to 61 Broadway, where it remained for the next 37 years. In 1925, Goldsmith having retired, the name of the firm became Cohen, Cole & Weiss. Two years later, William's younger brother Louis S. Weiss and his law partner John F. Wharton joined the firm, which became Cohen, Cole, Weiss & Wharton. The firm practiced under this name until June 1946, when former Treasury Department General Counsel Randolph E. Paul and onetime National War Labor Board Chairman Lloyd K. Garrison joined the firm, which became Paul, Weiss, Wharton & Garrison. In 1950, former U.S. District Judge Simon H. Rifkind joined the firm, which assumed its current name of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. In 1950, it was the first Wall Street firm to move to midtown. It was also the first major firm to admit a female partner, Carolyn Agger, the future wife of Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas and a black associate, William T. Coleman, Jr., future Secretary of Transportation. The firm opened a Chicago office in 1957 under the direction of Adlai Stevenson. The office closed in 1960, when each of the Chicago partners assumed positions in the Kennedy Administration. In 1967, former Supreme Court Justice Arthur J. Goldberg joined the firm. He joined the ranks of such notables as Theodore Sorensen, Ramsey Clark and Morris Berthold Abram. The firm briefly took on Goldberg's name, though it was dropped when the former justice left the firm in 1971 to set up his own practice in Washington, D.C.. The firm was known for its defense litigation work and had strong ties to the powerful Democratic Party establishment. Paul Weiss litigators represented Spiro Agnew in his nolo contendere plea bargain after the Watergate scandal. Other notable litigation clients in the 1970s included Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Bruce Bromley, Curt Flood (in his unsuccessful lawsuit against Major League Baseball's reserve clause), and the white shoe firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore in a discrimination suit.

At the 2008 ALB SE Asia Law Awards,[3] Paul, Weiss was crowned:

  • Deal of the Year - SE Asia M&A Deal of the Year.
  • Deal of the Year - SE Asia Deal of the Year.

In 2010 Paul, Weiss was awarded by 2010 ALB Japan Law Awards[3] as the:

  • Deal of the Year - M&A Deal of the Year
  • Deal of the Year - Japan Deal of the Year

Paul, Weiss was crowned Firm of the Year - IT/Telecommunications Law Firm of the Year at the 2008 ALB Hong Kong Law Awards.[3]

Principles of equality and diversity[edit]

In 1923, two well-educated young lawyers and good friends, John Wharton and Louis Weiss, decided to leave establishment firms to form their own partnership under the name of Weiss & Wharton. Their tiny operation, and later with its integration into Cohen, Cole, Weiss & Wharton, was committed to tolerance and equality, and formed the basis of the law firm.

Despite all the success and expansion, the firm has always remained true to its founding principles. In 1949, Paul, Weiss became the first major New York firm to hire a black lawyer, and it was also one of the first firms to elect a female partner. The words of name partner Simon H. Rifkind remain entrenched in the firm’s statement of principles: “We are sensitive to the fact that we practice in New York City, which is a pluralistic community and the major international and financial center of the Western world. We believe in maintaining, by affirmative efforts, a membership of partners and associates reflecting a wide variety of religious, political, ethnic and social backgrounds, characteristic of that community”. Paul, Weiss continues to make serious efforts to hire and retain a diverse mix of lawyers and support staff, through the work of the firm’s Diversity Committee and programs such as the well-attended annual Diversity Networking event. In 2006, Minority Law Journal ranked Paul, Weiss as the most diverse law firm in the country in its Diversity Scorecard Survey.

On October 10, 2007, Paul Weiss was included in a ranking of law firms by the national law student group Building a Better Legal Profession.[4][5]date=September 2013 The organization ranked firms by billable hours, demographic diversity, and pro bono participation. Paul, Weiss was noted as being in the top fifth of firms researched in number of Asian, female, and LGBT associates, and in all other categories it was rated in the 61st to 80th percentile) except female partners (40th to 59th percentile) and Hispanic associates (21st to 40th percentile).[6]

Pro bono activities[edit]

Paul, Weiss has also long maintained a strong commitment to diversity and public service, having encouraged their attorneys to undertake pro bono work. The firm is also recognized as being the most diverse law firm in New York, and the second most diverse in the nation. In addition, the firm has received recognition for its pro bono work, and has a long history of such efforts, having helped Thurgood Marshall prepare and argue Brown v. Board of Education. The firm's attorneys have also recently been involved in large-scale civil rights litigation in the areas of same-sex marriage and prisoner's rights.

Guantanamo detainees[edit]

Paul, Weiss represents detainees who have been held by the U.S. military at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. While in Guantanamo, a number of the detainees went on a hunger strike to protest alleged inhumane conditions. In response, prison authorities force-fed detainees using feeding tubes allegedly shoved through the detainees' noses and stomachs without anesthesia or sedatives. Paul, Weiss attorneys filed an emergency application demanding that the government immediately provide defense lawyers with information about the condition of the detainees. In a history-making ruling in October 2005, Judge Gladys Kessler of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the government to provide the detainees' lawyers with 24 hours' notice before initiating a force-feeding, and to provide lawyers with the detainees’ medical records a week before force-feeding.

The U.S. military attempted to ban all Paul, Weiss attorneys from Guantanamo after the discovery that attorney and partner Julia Tarver Mason was alleged to have illegally used "legal mail" as cover to pass inflammatory newsletters to detainees, an allegation later proved untrue. The decision to ban the firm was rescinded after a period of court filings.[7]

Two Paul, Weiss pro bono detainee clients were later released in 2007 by the Bush administration without the firm's participation, including Majeed Abdullah Al Joudi, now wanted for engaging in terrorism after Guantanamo.[7]

2009 recession and record profits[edit]

In February 2010, reported that Paul, Weiss recorded an increase in profits per partner, despite an almost 4% drop in revenue.[8] Firm Chairman Brad Karp called 2009 "the most profitable year in our firm's history". said the firm's performance notable in that it did not resort to layoffs, as many other large firms had.

This last claim is disputed by, which received tips that staff attorneys had been laid off and some associates may have been encouraged to resign.[9] In October 2009, reported that as many as 45 staff attorneys lost their jobs. In fact, their contracts had expired and various have since been rehired.[10]

The article quotes Chairman Brad Karp as stating, "The last quarter of 2009 was the busiest period in our firm's history". However, this claim appears inconsistent with the reduction in attorney headcount. Further, despite claims or record profits and increased workload, Paul, Weiss announced decreased bonuses for associates, with some classes receiving up to $10,000 (57%) less than the previous year.[11]

Name Partners[edit]

Notable partner and staff lawyers[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ "The AmLaw Daily". Retrieved 2012-02-13. 
  2. ^ "Chambers Associate". Retrieved 2012-01-31. 
  3. ^ a b c
  4. ^ Amir Efrati, You Say You Want a Big-Law Revolution, Take II, "Wall Street Journal", October 10, 2007.
  5. ^ Adam Liptak, In Students’ Eyes, Look-Alike Lawyers Don’t Make the Grade, New York Times, October 29, 2007,
  6. ^ Thomas Adcock and Zusha Elinson, Student Group Grades Firms On Diversity, Pro Bono Work, "New York Law Journal," October 19, 2007,
  7. ^ a b Debra Burlingame; Thomas Joscelyn (March 15, 2010). "Gitmo's Indefensible Lawyers". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2010-03-15. 
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^

External links[edit]