Willkie Farr & Gallagher

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Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP
Willkie Farr & Gallagher
Headquarters AXA Center
New York City
No. of offices 8 total, 6 international
No. of attorneys 637 (2007)
Major practice areas General Practice, Asset Management
Key people Steven J. Gartner, Co-Chairman;[1] Thomas M. Cerabino, Co-Chairman[2]
Revenue Decrease $533.5 million (2011)[3]
Date founded 1888
Company type Limited liability partnership

Founded in 1888, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP is an international law firm with eight offices in six countries (including offices in New York, Washington, D.C., London, Paris, Rome, Milan, Frankfurt and Brussels). The firm has cultivated a strong corporate practice focused on investment funds, bankruptcy and intellectual property. The firm has approximately 600 lawyers and staff attorneys. Major clients include financial news company Bloomberg L.P.. Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo has been of counsel with Willkie Farr since leaving office in 1995.


The firm's predecessor firm, a Wall Street stalwart, was called Hornblower & Byrne. It was founded by William B. Hornblower and James Byrne. Hornblower was a prominent ally of President Grover Cleveland and rose to serve as President of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York as well as sit as a judge on the New York Court of Appeals. Early clients included the New York Life Insurance Company, the New York Securities and Trust Company (later the New York Trust Company), the Rome, Watertown Ogdensburg and Parsons Railroad, Grant & Ward, a brokerage firm partnership between Ex-President Ulysses S. Grant and Ferdinand Ward, the Otis Elevator Company, the United States Ship Building Company and Thomas A. Edison.

It was only in 1940 that the firm then known as Miller, Boston & Owen extended an offer to Wendell Willkie, who had recently lost a bid to become President of the United States to Franklin D. Roosevelt. Willkie became a partner in 1941;[4] the firm's name was changed a year later to Willkie, Owen, Otis Bailly. Willkie later became F.D.R.'s personal envoy to many countries promoting the Lend-Lease program. He later wrote a book about his travels entitled One World, a plea for global cooperation and peacekeeping. Major clients included insurance companies such as Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, New York Life, Equitable, Aetna, Connecticut General, John Hancock, and Prudential, for which the firm represented for a number of industry private placements.

In 1968, the firm adopted its current name, Willkie Farr & Gallagher. Throughout the 1960s, Willkie was occupied with railroad reorganizations, setting the stage for the firm's emergence as a bankruptcy powerhouse.

The firm was long known for its representation of Major League Baseball; former Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, who held that office from 1969-1984, was a former Willkie Farr partner. The firm represented Baseball in the famous Curt Flood free agency/antitrust case in the United States Supreme Court in 1970, and against Pete Rose in the highly publicized gambling case of the late 1980s.

When Shearson Lehman, one of Willkie's biggest clients accounting for one-third of billings, was sold to the Traveler's Companies in 1993, Willkie suffered a precipitous drop in business. It was forced to lay off 20 associates and retrench. It then adopted a policy that no client would account for more than five percent of its business.

Today, the firm is known for its representation of sophisticated corporate and commercial clients in a variety of large and high-profile matters. In recent years, the firm's white collar compliance and enforcement practice has emerged as one of the most prominent in the country. Perhaps its best known practice group is its investment funds practice, which provides legal representation to a variety of registered, mutual and hedge funds. Willkie is recognized as being in 'Band 1' (the top ranking) on the national scale for its work for investment funds according to Chambers & Partners, the British legal publication.



The firm has offices in eight cities, listed below along with the corresponding year of establishment.

Alliance with Dickson Minto[edit]

In 2007, Willkie announced an alliance with Dickson Minto, a highly regarded boutique law firm with offices in London and Edinburgh that specializes in private equity, M&A and capital markets, in addition to being full-service in Scotland. It is envisioned that the two firms will work together to provide US and UK law advice in a variety of corporate transactions.


Practice Areas[edit]

Willkie Farr's significant practice areas include:[5]

  • Antitrust and Competition
  • Asset Management
  • Business Reorganization and Restructuring
  • Communications, Media & Privacy
  • Corporate and Financial Services
  • Environment, Health & Safety
  • Executive Compensation and Employee Benefits
  • Government Relations
  • Insurance & Reinsurance
  • Intellectual Property
  • Litigation
  • Private Clients Group
  • Real Estate
  • Tax
  • White Collar Investigations & Compliance

Notable Mandates[edit]


The top represented law schools at Willkie Farr include New York University School of Law (the school representing the highest number of firm partners), Harvard Law School, Yale Law School, University of Pennsylvania Law School, Columbia Law School, Georgetown University Law Center and University of Virginia Law School.

Notable Partners[edit]

Some of the firm's notable current partners include:

  • Barry Barbash - Served as the Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission's Division of Investment Management from September 1993 until October 1998.
  • Mario Cuomo - Served as 52nd Governor of New York for three terms from 1983 to 1994.
  • Matthew Feldman - Served as Chief Legal Advisor to the Obama administration’s Task Force on the Auto Industry, which developed the overall strategy to restructure General Motors Corporation and Chrysler.
  • Mei Lin Kwan-Gett - Investigated the espionage of FBI Special Agent Robert Hanssen as Special Investigative Counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General from 2001 to 2003.
  • Michael Schachter - Former Assistant US Attorney who prosecuted Martha Stewart for insider trading and obstruction of justice.
  • Martin Weinstein – As an Assistant US Attorney, represented the United States in negotiations with countries including Syria, Switzerland, and the Baltic States regarding FCPA issues.

Notable Alumni[edit]



  • Charles Evans Hughes - Chief Justice, U.S. Supreme Court; U.S. Secretary of State; Governor of New York

Government Service[edit]



External links[edit]