Davis Polk & Wardwell
|Headquarters||450 Lexington Avenue
New York City
|No. of offices||10 (2012)|
|No. of attorneys||787 (2012)|
|Major practice areas||Capital Markets, Corporate/M&A, Financial Services Regulation, Investment Management, Private Equity, Litigation, Insolvency/Restructuring, Antitrust, Credit and Tax, among others.|
|Key people||Thomas J. Reid Managing Partner|
|Revenue||$975 million (2013)|
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP is an international law firm, employing nearly 800 attorneys worldwide, with its headquarters in New York City. The firm represents many of the world's largest companies and financial institutions, and is best known for its corporate and litigation practices. It is consistently ranked as one of the most prestigious law firms in the world.
The firm traces its origins to Gunthrie, Bangs & Van Sinderen, founded in 1849 by Francis S. Bangs, an opponent of Tammany Hall. The firm changed its name several times to account for new partners, using names such as Bangs, Stetson, Tracy, and McVeigh and Stetson, Jennings & Russell. Among other high-profile lawyers, Grover Cleveland served as a member of the firm during the interval between his two non-consecutive presidential terms. Davis Polk was located at 15 Broad Street from around 1889 until 1959.
The firm takes its current name from three 20th century partners: John W. Davis, Frank Polk, and Allen Wardwell. Davis, a former U.S. Solicitor General and the 1924 Democratic presidential nominee, made 139 oral arguments before the United States Supreme Court, most infamously in Brown v. Board of Education, in which he represented South Carolina in defense of racial segregation. With Polk and Wardwell, Davis developed close ties between the firm and the J.P. Morgan companies, as well as the Guaranty Trust Company, the Associated Press, and International Paper.
In 1971, the firm promoted to its partnership at Davis Polk & Wardwell its first woman, Lydia Kess.
The firm has represented numerous clients in the financial crisis of 2007–2008, with roles in the AIG, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, and Citigroup matters. It has also served as lead counsel to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in the U.S. Treasury’s $250 billion bank capital purchase program and the creation of the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility. To bolster its financial regulatory practice, the firm recently hired three former Securities and Exchange Commission officials—Commissioner Annette Nazareth, Director of Enforcement Linda Chatman Thomsen, and Deputy Director of Trading and Markets Robert Colby—as well as former White House Staff Secretary Raul Yanes and former FDIC General Counsel John Douglas. Chambers Associate called Davis Polk the "Tiffany's of law firms".
Davis Polk alumni in public service
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- Ronnie Abrams - U.S. District Court Judge, Southern District of New York
- Thomas J. Aquilino, Jr. - Senior Judge, U.S Court of International Trade
- Richard M. Berman - U.S. District Court Judge, Southern District of New York
- Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum - Senior U.S. District Court Judge, Southern District of New York
- Denny Chin - U.S. Circuit Court Judge, Second Circuit Court of Appeals
- Hardy Cross Dillard - International Court of Justice
- Warren Eginton - Senior U.S. District Court Judge, District of Connecticut
- Thomas P. Griesa - Senior U.S. District Court Judge, Southern District of New York
- Cheryl Ann Krause - Nominee, Third Circuit Court of Appeals
- J. Michael Luttig - Former U.S. Circuit Court Judge, Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
- Amy J. St. Eve - U.S. District Court Judge, Northern District of Illinois
- Louis L. Stanton - Senior U.S. District Court Judge, Southern District of New York
- John M. Walker, Jr. - U.S. Circuit Court Judge, Second Circuit Court of Appeals
- Lawrence E. Walsh - Former U.S. District Court Judge, Southern District of New York
- Grover Cleveland - Former U.S. President
- John Danforth - Former U.S. Senator (R-MO) and Ambassador to the United Nations
- Kirsten Gillibrand - U.S. Senator (D-NY)
- Ben McAdams - State Senator, Utah State Legislature
- Reshma Saujani - Candidate, U.S. House of Representatives, New York's 14th congressional district
- Terri Sewell - U.S. Representative, Alabama's 7th congressional district
- Chen Show Mao - Member of Singaporean Parliament, Aljunied Group Representation Constituency, Workers' Party of Singapore
Law enforcement and financial regulation
- Greg Andres - Acting Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, Department of Justice
- Paul S. Atkins - Former Commissioner, Securities and Exchange Commission
- Susan Ervin - Former Deputy Director, Commodity Futures Trading Commission
- Roger W. Ferguson, Jr. - Former Vice-Chairman, Federal Reserve; President & CEO, TIAA-CREF
- Robert B. Fiske - Former U.S. Attorney, Southern District of New York
- Samuel Hazard Gillespie Jr - Former U.S. Attorney, Southern District of New York
- William F. Kroener III - Former General Counsel, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
- Gary Lynch - Former Director, Division of Enforcement, Securities and Exchange Commission
- Denis McInerney - Chief, Fraud Section, Department of Justice
- Susan Merrill - Director of Enforcement, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority
- Charles E. F. Millard - Former Director, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
- Ogden Livingston Mills - Former Secretary of the Treasury
- Annette Nazareth - Former Commissioner, Securities and Exchange Commission
- Randal Quarles - Former Undersecretary for Domestic Finance, U.S. Department of Treasury
- Howard Shelanski - Commissioner, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs
- Michael Sohn - Former General Counsel, Federal Trade Commission
- Linda Chatman Thomsen - Former Director, Division of Enforcement, Securities and Exchange Commission
- Lawrence E. Walsh - Former Deputy Attorney General and Independent Counsel, Iran-Contra Investigation
Other government service
- John Bridgeland - Former Director, White House Domestic Policy Council
- John W. Davis - Former U.S. Solicitor General; Democratic Presidential Nominee, 1924
- Kimberley Harris - Deputy White House Counsel
- Reuben Jeffery III - Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State
- Charles MacVeagh - Former U.S. Ambassador to Japan
- Richard Moe - President, National Trust for Historic Preservation
- Jennifer Newstead - Former General Counsel, Office of Management and Budget
- Frank Polk - Former Acting U.S. Secretary of State
- Peter Tufo - Former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary
- John E Zuccotti - Former Deputy Mayor, New York City; namesake of Zuccotti Park
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- Alexander Cushing - Founder and Chairman, Ski Corporation
- Eli Whitney Debevoise - Founding Partner, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
- Tom Glocer - CEO, Thomson Reuters
- Steven Goldstone - Former President & CEO, RJR Nabisco
- Robert Harrison (financier) - CEO, Clinton Global Initiative
- Lewis B. Kaden - Vice Chairman, Citigroup
- H. F. Lenfest - Founder, Lenfest Communications
- Charles Li - CEO, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing
- J. Michael Luttig - General Counsel, Boeing
- Gary Lynch - Former Vice Chairman, Morgan Stanley; Former Vice Chairman, Credit Suisse First Boston; Global General Counsel, Bank of America
- Axel Miller - Chairman & CEO, Dexia S.A.
- Ronald Robins - General Counsel, Abercrombie & Fitch
- Francis Lynde Stetson - Attorney for John Pierpont Morgan; former president, New York State Bar Association.
Media and entertainment
- Amory Bradford - Former General Manager & Vice President, New York Times
- Lisa Daniels - Correspondent, NBC News
- He Li - Chinese Poet
- Crystal McKellar - Actress and former associate with the firm
- George Bermann - Director, European Legal Studies Center, Columbia Law School
- Charles Black - Professor, Yale Law School
- Brian Casey - President, DePauw University
- Barry E. Friedman - Vice Dean, New York University School of Law
- Linda Lorimer - Vice President, Yale University
- Julie O'Sullivan - Professor, Georgetown University Law Center
- David Schizer - Dean, Columbia Law School
- David E. Van Zandt - President, The New School, Former Dean, Northwestern University School of Law
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- In 2012 and 2013, Davis Polk was named "Americas Law Firm of the Year" by the International Financial Law Review.
- In 2010, Davis Polk was ranked third in "Revenue per Lawyer" by the American Lawyer's top 100 National Firms.
- Davis Polk ranked among the top three U.S. law firms in a survey in which Fortune 250 law departments were asked to name the firms they rely on most in corporate transactions.
- The firm had more #1 capital markets rankings than any other law firm in 2007, and in 2008, the firm advised the underwriters in the Visa IPO, the largest IPO in U.S. history,[not in citation given] and the GE offering, the largest follow-on offering in U.S. history.[not in citation given]
- The firm ranked 3rd among U.S. law firms in both worldwide announced and completed M&A transactions in 2007.
- Davis Polk was ranked among the top law firms in U.S. buyouts and venture capital investments by Chambers Global, which noted that the firm "is able to leverage off its outstanding M&A strength in covering the broad spectrum of private equity work".
- The firm was ranked among the top law firms in private equity fund formation by Chambers Global, which noted that Davis Polk's investment management group "has a strong presence in the private funds market and has leveraged off the firm’s impressive finance practice in forging strong relationships with a significant number of investment banks”.
- The firm's litigation practice ranks in the first tier among New York law firms, according to Chambers USA.
- Individual Davis Polk insolvency & restructuring lawyers were named “Dealmaker of the Year” by The American Lawyer.
- “Outstanding Young Restructuring Lawyer” by Turnarounds & Workouts and “Lawyer of the Year” by Law Business Research’s Who’s Who Legal–International Who’s Who of Insolvency & Restructuring Lawyers.
- Davis Polk ranked in the first tier among New York law firms in U.S. tax matters by Chambers USA, which commented that “with a ‘terrific team of excellent tax lawyers,’ the group successfully mixes M&A and finance, establishing itself as one of the premier law firms in New York, and indeed across the USA”.
- At the 2008 ALB SE Asia Law Awards,[not in citation given] Davis Polk & Wardwell was awarded:
- At the 2008 ALB China Law Awards,[not in citation given] Davis Polk & Wardwell was awarded:
- Deal of the Year - M&A Deal of the Year
- In 2008 was awarded by the 2008 ALB Japan Law Awards[not in citation given] as the:
- In October 2008, a Davis Polk team working with the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund won a $4.6 million judgment on behalf of immigrant workers who were being paid below the statutory minimum wage by their employer, a popular Manhattan restaurant.
- In March 2007, Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) awarded Davis Polk its Heroes Honors 25th Anniversary Award for the corporate pro bono work the firm has done on the organization’s behalf.
- The New York State Bar Association presented senior counsel Jimmy Benkard with the 2007 President’s Pro Bono Service Award for the First Judicial District for his exemplary work on behalf of mentally ill prisoners incarcerated in the New York State prison system.
- "The Am Law Daily--Top New York-Based Firms See Mostly Modest Growth". Retrieved 2013-05-20.
- "Davis Polk: Practices". Retrieved 2012-02-01.
- "The Am LAw 100, the Early Numbers: Profits Spike at Davis Polk". Retrieved 2014-12-08.
- "Law Firm Rankings: Vault Law 100". Vault.com. Retrieved 2012-08-12.
- "Firm Feature". Chambers Associate. Retrieved 2012-08-12.
- "Francis S. Bangs, Leading Lawyer, Dies". New York Times. March 3, 1920.
- Allan Nevins, Grover Cleveland: A Study in Courage, p.450.
- "Davis Polk: Making Bank « Above the Law: A Legal Web Site – News, Commentary, and Opinions on Law Firms, Lawyers, Law School, Law Suits, Judges and Courts". Abovethelaw.com. Retrieved 2012-08-12.
- Archived October 28, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- Scannell, Kara (April 13, 2009). "Davis Polk Recruits Ex-SEC Aide". The Wall Street Journal.
- Peter Lattman, Davis Polk Lawyer Nominated for Federal Bench, New York Times, July 29, 2011
- Derek Jensen, Utah's Newest Senator - He's LDS, Liberal, and Rising Rapidly, Salt Lake Tribune, Jan. 23, 2010
- Ben Protess, Davis Polk Hires Former Antitrust Regulator, New York Times, August 18, 2011
- William F. Kroener III Appointed FDIC General Counsel, Press Release, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
- Amir Efrati, Davis Polk ‘Rock Star’ To Lead DOJ’s Fraud Section, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 20, 2009
- Finra's Susan Merrill to Exit as Enforcement Chief, Wall Street Journal, March 18, 2010
- White House Counsel Brings in New Staff, Legal Times, August 17, 2011
- Lawyers Who Mold the Shape of the CIty, New York TImes, Feb. 25, 1996, http://www.nytimes.com/1996/02/25/realestate/lawyers-who-mold-the-shape-of-a-city.html
- "CGI Leadership". Clintonglobalinitiative.org. Retrieved 2012-08-12.
- New HKEx Chief Touts China Ties, Wall Street Journal, June 10, 2009
- Abercrombie & Fitch Names Ronald Robins General Counsel, Corporate Counsel, November 22, 2010
- Francis L. Stetson, Lawyer, Dies at 74,' New York Times, December 6, 1920
- Amory Bradford, 85, Times General Manager, New York Times, September 6, 1998
- "Crystal McKellar of Davis Polk & Wardwell". Davis Polk & Wardwell. Archived from the original on 2009-03-17.
- "Davis Polk Named "Americas Law Firm of the Year" by IFLR | News | Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP". Davispolk.com. 2012-03-30. Retrieved 2012-08-12.
- "The Am Law 100 2010 - Revenue Per Lawyer (RPL) Falls Again". Law.com. 2012-09-09. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
- "News | Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP". Dpw.com. Retrieved 2012-08-12.
- Chambers USA (2007).
- Who’s Who Legal–International Who’s Who of Insolvency & Restructuring Lawyers (2007).
- "ALB Asia - legal deals, law deals, law firm deals, lawyer deals". Legalbusinessonline.com.au. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
- Baxter, Brian (October 23, 2008). "Davis Polk Hands Big Tip to Saigon Grill Deliverymen". Law.Com(ALM/American Lawyer Magazine). Retrieved August 11, 2012.
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