White shoe firm

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White shoe firm is a sometimes racially/culturally tinted phrase used to describe leading professional services firms in the United States, particularly firms that have been in existence for more than a century and represent Fortune 500 companies. It typically—but not always—refers to banking, law, and management consulting firms, especially those based in New York and Boston.

Etymology and definition[edit]

According to William Safire, the phrase derives from "white bucks," laced suede or buckskin shoes with a red sole, long popular in the Ivy League colleges.[1][2] Originally, it reflected a stereotype of old-line firms populated by WASPs, but some say the phrase has since become innocuous. However, it is still defined by Princeton University's Wordnet as "denoting a company or law firm owned and run by members of the WASP elite who are generally conservative," which shows that the original connotation has not changed entirely.[3]

Business journalists typically link white shoe status to both historical reputation and current success in maintaining high prestige. A report on law firms, for example, says, "Clients like Intel and Credit Suisse First Boston mean this white-shoe law firm should keep its elite rep for years to come. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett was founded 113 years ago, and has represented a long string of corporate clients."[4] They are known for rigid dress codes, besides the shoe style.[5]

Examples of white-shoe firms[edit]

The following firms are often referred to as being white-shoe firms:

Banks, investment banks, and merchant banks[edit]

Law firms[edit]

The "new" white-shoe banks[edit]

While the term "white-shoe" historically applied only to those law firms populated by WASPs, usage of the term has since been expanded to other top-rated prestigious firms. Many of these firms were founded as a direct result of the exclusionary tendencies of the original white-shoe firms, which provided limited opportunities for Jewish and Catholic lawyers, as well as other non-WASPs.

The "new" white-shoe law firms[edit]

Other uses of the term[edit]

A similar term in Australia, "white shoe brigade", has been used in the past to describe a group of Queensland property developers who backed, and benefitted from, former Queensland State Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen.[55] The term is a contemptuous allusion to the lower social class antecedents of such men, revealed by their gaudy and tasteless choice of clothing, which included brightly coloured or patterned shirts, slacks with white stripes or in pastel shades, and shoes and belts of white leather, these often having gold or gilt buckles. A strong-smelling aftershave was often worn, as well. They became known for shady deals with the government concerning property development, often with dire consequences for heritage buildings.[56]

Related phrases[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Safire, William (2003). No Uncertain Terms: More Writing from the Popular "On Language" Column in The New York Times Magazine. ISBN 0-7432-5812-6. 
  2. ^ Safire, William (November 9, 1997). "On Language; Gimme the Ol' White Shoe". New York Times. 
  3. ^ "white-shoe". WordNet. Princeton University. 
  4. ^ H. S. Hamadeh, 1999 Vault Reports guide to America's top 50 law firms (1999) online
  5. ^ See details at Building a Better Legal Profession, Building a Better Legal Profession's Guide to Law Firms: The Law Student's Guide to Finding the Perfect Law Firm Job (2009) online p 57
  6. ^ Surowiecki, James (1998-06-15). "White-Shoe Shuffle". New York. New York Media LLC. Retrieved 2008-06-01. 
  7. ^ Timmons, Heather; Christopher Palmieri (2002-01-21). "The Perils of J.P. Morgan". BusinessWeek. McGraw-Hill. Retrieved 2008-06-01. 
  8. ^ "Morgan Stanley's 'white-shoe' dissidents continue war of attrition". Finfacts Ireland. April 17, 2005. 
  9. ^ Goldfarb, Zachary (March 17, 2008). "Bringing Together AOL's Ad Network". Washington Post. 
  10. ^ Stracher, Cameron (March 24, 2000). "The Law Firm's New Clothes". New York Times. 
  11. ^ Lin, Anthony (February 6, 2007). "Does the Future Belong to Cadwalader?". New York Law Journal. 
  12. ^ Rost, Peter (September 12, 2007). "Covington & Burling, a Pfizer law firm, caught cleaning up its reputation on Wikipedia". BrandweekNRX. 
  13. ^ Martinez, Jose (March 3, 2006). "Shoes are whiter than most in city". NY Daily News (New York). 
  14. ^ Moyer, Elizabeth (October 26, 2005). "Dimon Woos Mergers Lawyer Hersch To JPMorgan". Forbes.com. 
  15. ^ Labaton, Stephen (September 24, 1989). "Rainmaker: Mario Baeza of Debevoise". The New York Times. 
  16. ^ van der Pool, Lisa (July 18, 2008). "Dewey & LeBoeuf’s local head count drops post-merger". Boston Business Journal. 
  17. ^ Bekiempis, Victoria (January 31, 2014). "How much is Chris Christie paying Randy Mastro?". Newsweek. 
  18. ^ McMorrow, Paul (December 25, 2012). "Seaport is rising, but not from tech". Boston Globe. 
  19. ^ Dougherty, Carter. "The Israeli Connection". VirtualCXO. 
  20. ^ Weiss, Gary (March 4, 2002). "Commentary: Et Tu, Enron Lawyers?". Businessweek. 
  21. ^ http://www.bmacewen.com/blog/pdf/NYT1994.10.02.LordDayLord.pdf
  22. ^ http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/pdf/062807_off_the_record.pdf
  23. ^ Qualters, Sheri (August 29, 2007). "Humor Helps the Firm Go Video". The National Law Journal. 
  24. ^ "Shearman & Sterling, 1999 Edition". Vault.com. 
  25. ^ Nelson, Katie (November 2, 2009). "NY Daily News". New York. 
  26. ^ "Chicago Tribune". November 11, 2009. 
  27. ^ "Simpson Thacher & Bartlett". Vault.com. 
  28. ^ Schneider-Mayerson, Anna (February 18, 2007). "Associate Gets Crushed Beneath White Shoe". New York Observer. 
  29. ^ White & Case LLP
  30. ^ Morgan, Spencer (April 7, 2009). "Andy Spade Is a Giant in New York". New York Observer. 
  31. ^ van der Pool, Lisa (July 1, 2011). "Bill Lee: Still making his case". Boston Business Journal. 
  32. ^ Hawkins, Asher (June 28, 2010). "SEC's Revolving Door Often Spins More Than Once". Forbes. 
  33. ^ Sorkin, Andrew Ross (December 11, 2005). "They're All Paying Customers to Wall Street". The New York Times. 
  34. ^ Carr, David (June 30, 2013). "A Tabloid King Looks Beyond Elvis". The New York Times. 
  35. ^ Gomez, Edward M. (September 16, 2008). "With Wall Street crisis, now it’s official: The sky is falling in". SFGate World Views. 
  36. ^ Gendar, Alison (September 14, 2009). "Straight-shooter judge could break up Junior Gotti's perfect game". NY Daily News (New York). 
  37. ^ Rubinstein, Dana (July 24, 2008). "It's Complicated: Insurance Firm Spills Space Gobbled by Former UBS President, Cleary Gottlieb". New York Observer. 
  38. ^ Gray, Geoffrey (December 15, 2003). "Charity Busters". City Limits. 
  39. ^ "Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP". Vault.com. 
  40. ^ Selvin, Molly (May 19, 2006). "Who Wins This Case? Lawyers". LA Times. 
  41. ^ Gertner, Jon (January 15, 2006). "What Is a Living Wage?". New York Times. 
  42. ^ Stull, Elizabeth (May 23, 2007). "Gay Couple Sues Landlord for Discrimination". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 
  43. ^ "Business - Minding your MANNERS". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. June 9, 2002. 
  44. ^ Lin, Anthony (May 16, 2006). "Can the 'Jewish Law Firm' Success Story Be Duplicated?". New York Law Journal. 
  45. ^ "Why Work for Proskauer Rose LLP?". Vault.com. 
  46. ^ Donohue, Pete (December 11, 2005). "MTA Pays Big Shots To Fight A Strike". NY Daily News (New York). 
  47. ^ ANN W., ANN W. (September 24, 2000). "He May Have Played a Lawyer on TV, but Nanny Produced the Brief". LA Times. 
  48. ^ "Milestones in an Ambitious Career: 1992". New York Times. March 10, 2008. 
  49. ^ "Girl Trouble". New York Magazine. October 16, 2000. 
  50. ^ "IRS punts on secret $6 billion bailout for Puerto Rico: 2011". The Daily Caller. April 4, 2011. 
  51. ^ Weiss, Debra Cassens (August 19, 2009). "Wachtell Nabs Top Spot Again In Prestige Rankings". ABA Journal. 
  52. ^ Belkin, Lisa (January 24, 2008). "Who’s Cuddly Now? Law Firms". New York Times. 
  53. ^ Sargent, Greg (September/October 2005). "The Ricochet". Mother Jones. 
  54. ^ Fitzgerald, Patrick (March 13, 2009). "SunCal Lawyer Whacks Weil". Wall Street Journal. 
  55. ^ Dempster, Quentin (April 23, 2005). "Sir Johannes Bjelke-Petersen: Corrupt populist". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. [dead link]
  56. ^ Gard, Stephen (1994). Fantastic Australians. Kangaroo Press. ISBN 0-86417-588-4. 

External links[edit]