Davis Polk & Wardwell

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Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
Davis Polk logo.svg
Headquarters 450 Lexington Avenue
New York City
No. of offices 10
No. of attorneys 961 (2017)[1]
Major practice areas Capital Markets
Financial Services Regulation
Investment Management
Private Equity
Credit and Tax
Key people Thomas J. Reid Managing Partner
Revenue Increase $1.18 billion (2017)[2]
Date founded 1849; 169 years ago (1849)
Company type Limited liability partnership
Website www.davispolk.com

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, known as Davis Polk, is an international law firm headquartered in New York City with 961 attorneys. It is consistently ranked as one of the most prestigious law firms in the world and as one of New York's most powerful law firms.[3][4] As of July 2018, starting salary for first-year associates was $190,000.[5][1]


The firm traces its origins to Gunthrie, Bangs & Van Sinderen, founded in 1849 by Francis S. Bangs, an opponent of Tammany Hall.[6] 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.[7] 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 United States 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 J.P. Morgan & Co., Guaranty Trust Company, The Associated Press, and International Paper.

In 1971, Lydia Kess was the first woman at the firm that was promoted to partner.[8]

During the financial crisis of 2007–2008, the firm represented many clients, including the United States Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and the firm had roles in the AIG, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, and Citigroup matters.[9]

In 2009, to bolster its financial regulatory practice, the firm hired 3 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 Yanesand former Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation General Counsel John Douglas.[10]

Notable associates[edit]

Current associates[edit]

Among its partners are former FTC Commissioner Jon Leibowitz.[11]

Former associates[edit]


Elected office[edit]

Law enforcement and financial regulation[edit]

Other government service[edit]


Media and entertainment[edit]



  • In 2012 and 2013, Davis Polk was named "America's Law Firm of the Year" by the International Financial Law Review.[29]
  • In 2010, Davis Polk was ranked third in "Revenue per Lawyer" by the American Lawyer's top 100 National Firms.[30]
  • 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.[31]
  • 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”.[32]
  • In October 2008, a Davis Polk team working with the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund won a $0 million judgment[33] on behalf of immigrant workers who were being paid below the statutory minimum wage by their employer, a popular Manhattan restaurant.[34]
  • 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.[35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP - Company Profile - Vault.com". 
  2. ^ Gluckman, Nell; Tribe, Meghan (February 15, 2017). "Davis Polk sees double-digit revenue and PEP rises for 2016 as partner profits hit $3.75m". Legal Week. 
  3. ^ "Best companies to work for - Vault Law 100". Vault.com. 
  4. ^ "Best companies to work for - Best Law Firms in New York". Vault.com. 
  5. ^ "Guess Which Biglaw Leader Is Raising Salaries Now…". Above the Law. 
  6. ^ "Francis S. Bangs, Leading Lawyer, Dies". The New York Times. March 3, 1920. 
  7. ^ Allan Nevins, Grover Cleveland: A Study in Courage, p.450.
  8. ^ Lat, David (January 5, 2012). "Oy Vey! Milbank Mistakenly Touts 'Only Orthodox Jewish Woman Partner' in Biglaw". Above the Law. 
  9. ^ Lat, David (September 18, 2008). "Davis Polk: Making Bank". Above the Law. 
  10. ^ Scannell, Kara (April 13, 2009). "Davis Polk Recruits Ex-SEC Aide". The Wall Street Journal. 
  11. ^ SASSO, BRENDAN (May 11, 2015). "The 'Privacy Coalition' That Wants to Trim Data Regulations for Telecom Giants". The Atlantic. 
  12. ^ Lattman, Peter (July 29, 2011). "Davis Polk Lawyer Nominated for Federal Bench". The New York Times. (subscription required)
  13. ^ LUBASCH, ARNOLD H. (July 26, 1985). "WALL ST. LAWYER WINS BACKING FOR U.S. JUDGEh". The New York Times. 
  14. ^ Blumenthal, Jeff (February 5, 2014). "Obama nominates Philadelphia lawyer for federal judge". American City Business Journals. 
  15. ^ Broady, Gavin (June 3, 2014). "A Rising Star In The Windy City: Judge Amy St. Eve". Law360. 
  16. ^ "BENJAMIN MICHAEL MCADAMS". University of Utah. 
  17. ^ Han Wong, Chun (May 6, 2011). "Candidate Q&A: Chen Show Mao". The Wall Street Journal. (subscription required)
  18. ^ GRIMES, WILLIAM (March 8, 2011). "S. Hazard Gillespie, Former U.S. Attorney, Dies at 100". The New York Times. 
  19. ^ PROTESS, BEN (August 18, 2011). "Davis Polk Hires Former Antitrust Regulator". The New York Times. 
  20. ^ GREENHOUSE, STEVEN (April 14, 1992). "New Duties Familiar To Treasury Nominee". The New York Times. 
  21. ^ Easton, Nina J. (March 27, 2002). "The Wings of an Idea". The Washington Post. 
  22. ^ DUNLAP, DAVID W. (February 25, 1996). "Lawyers Who Mold The Shape of a City". The New York Times. 
  23. ^ "Alex Cushing, Founder of Squaw Valley, Dies". Snowboard Magazine. August 21, 2006. 
  24. ^ HEVESI, DENNIS (July 1, 1990). "Eli Whitney Debevoise Dies at 90; Co-Founder of a Top Law Firm". The New York Times. 
  25. ^ "CGI Leadership". Clintonglobalinitiative.org. Retrieved 2012-08-12. 
  26. ^ Francis L. Stetson, Lawyer, Dies at 74,' New York Times, December 6, 1920
  27. ^ "Traphagen Distinguished Alumni Speaker Series – Crystal McKellar '03". Harvard Law School. February 23, 2015. 
  28. ^ "David M. Schizer". Columbia Law School. Retrieved 21 January 2018. 
  29. ^ "Davis Polk Wins Again at IFLR Americas Awards". International Financial Law Review. March 22, 2013. 
  30. ^ "The Am Law 100 2010 - Revenue Per Lawyer (RPL) Falls Again". Law.com. 2012-09-09. Retrieved 2012-10-09. 
  31. ^ Who’s Who Legal–International Who’s Who of Insolvency & Restructuring Lawyers (2007).
  32. ^ Chambers USA (2007).
  33. ^ http://amlawdaily.typepad.com/amlawdaily/files/saigon_grill_decision.pdf
  34. ^ Baxter, Brian (October 23, 2008). "Davis Polk Hands Big Tip to Saigon Grill Deliverymen". Law.Com(ALM/American Lawyer Magazine). Retrieved August 11, 2012. 
  35. ^ "Gay Men's Health Crisis to Commemorate 25 Years of Leadership in the Fight Against AIDS at GMHC Heroes Honors 25th Anniversary Dinner" (Press release). PRNewswire. March 7, 2007. Retrieved 9 August 2016. 

Further reading[edit]