Sullivan & Cromwell

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
Sullivan & Cromwell
Headquarters 125 Broad Street
New York City
No. of offices 12 total, 8 international
No. of attorneys 802 (2013)
Major practice areas General practice
Key people Joseph Shenker, Chairman and Senior Partner
H. Rodgin Cohen , Senior Chairman
Revenue Increase $1.08 billion (2010)
Date founded 1879
Founder Algernon Sydney Sullivan and William Nelson Cromwell
Company type Limited liability partnership

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP is an international law firm headquartered in New York. The firm has approximately 800 lawyers in 12 offices, located in financial centers on the globe. Sullivan & Cromwell consistently ranks as one of the most prestigious law firms in the world, ranking as the 4th most prestigious in the 2016 Vault law firm ranking.[1]



The firm has steered the development of many of the world's corporate titans over the past 130-plus years. Founding partners Algernon Sydney Sullivan and William Nelson Cromwell wasted no time in elevating the firm to elite status, advising John Pierpont Morgan during the creation of Edison General Electric in 1882 and later guiding key players in the formation of U.S. Steel and the financing of the Panama Canal.[2]

From its earliest involvement in the formation of Edison General Electric Company in 1882 and United States Steel Corporation in 1901, to its present work with leaders of the global economy in the 21st century, the firm has been closely involved in the affairs of some of America's, and now the world's, greatest industrial, commercial and financial enterprises. Sullivan & Cromwell's efforts to bring about the building of the Panama Canal are chronicled in David McCullough's book, The Path Between the Seas. The firm represents the Panama Canal Authority to this day.


The Great Depression and its aftermath reoriented much of Wall Street, and Sullivan & Cromwell was called on to assist clients in confronting a burst of government involvement in business affairs and a new wave of business-related litigation. During this period the firm developed its expertise in defending shareholder derivative litigation and antitrust actions, and was among the first law firms to develop expertise in the field of federal income tax law. A series of new federal statutes, beginning with the Securities Act of 1933, was enacted to regulate the investment industry, and Sullivan & Cromwell prepared the first major registration statement under the Securities Act. The firm's substantial involvement in, and important contributions to, securities offerings and securities regulation have continued since that time.

During and after World War II, individual members of the firm, including partners such as John Foster Dulles, who later became secretary of state in the Eisenhower administration, and Arthur Dean, also played important roles in domestic politics and international affairs. In 1935, Allen Dulles visited Germany and returned greatly disturbed by the direction of the regime. He advised that the firm should close its Berlin office, against his brother's strong objections, and the partners eventually voted to close it, although John Foster subsequently backdated documents to suggest that the closing date had been 1934. Sullivan & Cromwell's litigation department was led for many years by Harlan Fiske Stone, before he left the firm to become Chief Justice of the United States. Partner Robert MacCrate served as Counsel to New York Governor Nelson D. Rockefeller and as Special Counsel to the Department of the Army for its investigation of the My Lai Massacre.


During the past three and a half decades Sullivan & Cromwell has grown gradually in measured response to the increasing volume and complexity of their clients' affairs, developing leading practices in areas such as mergers and acquisitions, banking regulation, real estate finance, derivatives and private equity. The firm's work in cross-border capital flows has continued, including substantial involvement in foreign direct investment and project finance, the development of the Euro — and other global capital markets, and the financial flows to Asia and Latin America.

The expansion of the scope and nature of the firm's practice required Sullivan & Cromwell to have lawyers in locations more convenient to clients. Building on the legacy of John Foster Dulles and Arthur Dean, the S&C chairmen during this period, John Stevenson, John Merow and Ricardo Mestres, all aggressively expanded the firm's practice in the United States and around the world. Domestic branches were opened in Washington, D.C. in 1977, Los Angeles in 1984 and Palo Alto in 2000. Overseas, the Paris office, closed during World War II, was reopened in 1962, and offices were opened in London in 1972, Melbourne in 1983, Tokyo in 1987, Hong Kong in 1992, Frankfurt in 1995, Beijing in 1999 and Sydney in 2001. Now a fixture in U.K. legal circles after 35 years in London, Sullivan is widely regarded as a peer of the Magic Circle (law) firms.

In the late 1980s Sullivan partner Robert MacCrate served as president of both the New York State Bar Association the American Bar Association. MacCrate later chaired the ABA Task Force on Law Schools and the Profession. The Task Force's Report, widely known as the MacCrate Report,[3] was issued in July 1992 and is widely viewed as template for modern legal education in the United States. MacCrate, a former S&C vice chairman, continues to be active as a Senior Counsel of the firm.

Maples v. Thomas is a 2012 United States Supreme Court ruling in which the court ruled 7-2 that Cory R. Maples, who had been convicted of murdering two people and was facing a possible death sentence, should get more time in court because his lawyers at Sullivan & Cromwell had inadvertently abandoned him.[4]

M&A practice[edit]

As mergers and acquisitions became an increasingly important part of the corporate landscape in the 1970s, most of the leading white shoe firms of the day would not work on hostile takeovers, leaving it to other now leading law firms, like Wachtell Lipton and Skadden Arps. George Kern led the firm's M&A effort in the 1970s and 1980s. Kern was a colorful figure and was widely viewed, at S&C, as one of the early leading M&A lawyers. As the commercial banking industry began to consolidate in the 1980s, S&C partner and current chairman H. Rodge Cohen became involved in many of the key deals. The M&A department includes noted dealmakers Jim Morphy and Frank Aquila, along with elders Ben Stapleton and Neil Anderson. Rodge Cohen continues to be the firm's leading financial institutions M&A lawyer. With high-profile assignments from multinationals such as BP, Diageo, Philips, France Telecom, InBev, British Airways, Scottish Power, Endesa, and Vodafone, Sullivan & Cromwell has carved out a niche in cross-border M&A. Partners Rich Morrissey in London and Chun Wei in Hong Kong lead the firm's non-US mergers practice. The firm has consistently ranked at the top among law firms involved in worldwide M&A transactions. Globally, Sullivan & Cromwell leads the M&A league tables, ranking first by value among law firms representing principals in announced transactions in 2007 (as was also the case in 2006, 2005 and 2004), according to data from Bloomberg and Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC's Dealogic.

Notable alumni[edit]

Individuals who have worked at Sullivan & Cromwell include:


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ MacCrate Report
  4. ^ Justices Rule for Inmate After Mailroom Mix-Up, New York Times, January 18, 2012
  5. ^ a b Stephen Kinzer (2013). The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War. New York: Times Books. ISBN 0805094970. 

Further reading[edit]

  • VEP: Sullivan & Cromwell. New York: Vault, Inc. 1998. ISBN 1-58131-095-1. 
  • Lisagor, Nancy; Frank Lipsius (1989). A Law Unto Itself: The Untold Story of the Law Firm Sullivan & Cromwell. New York: Paragon House. ISBN 1-55778-239-3. 

External links[edit]