Willkie Farr & Gallagher

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Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP
Willkie Farr & Gallagher
Headquarters AXA Equitable Center
787 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10019
No. of offices 9 total, 6 international
No. of attorneys 644 (2017)
Major practice areas Antitrust, Asset Management, Business Restructuring, Commercial Litigation, Corporate M&A, Insurance, Intellectual Property, Private Equity, Real Estate, Securities Litigation, Tax
Key people Steven J. Gartner, Co-Chairman;[1] Thomas M. Cerabino, Co-Chairman[2]
Revenue Increase $772 million (2017)[3]
Date founded 1888
Company type Limited liability partnership
Website www.willkie.com

Founded in 1888, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP is an international law firm with nine offices in six countries (including offices in New York, Washington, D.C., Houston, 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 650 lawyers and staff attorneys. Major clients include financial news company Bloomberg LP. Former Supreme Court Nominee Robert Bork began his career at Willkie,[4] and former New York Governor Mario Cuomo served as of counsel at the firm after leaving office in 1995.


The original firm was Wall Street stalwart Hornblower & Byrne which 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.

The firm hired its first woman associate, Mary MacDonagh, in 1939.[5]

In January 1940 Harold J. Gallagher, one of the most influential partners in the history of the firm,[6] extended an offer to Wendell Willkie to join the firm then known as Miller, Boston & Owen. This was several months before Willkie received the Republican nomination for President.[7] After losing the Presidential election to the incumbent FDR, Willkie joined the firm and became a partner in 1941.[8] 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 during this period 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.

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

In 1977, Patricia S. Skigen became the firm's first female partner.[9]

The firm was long known for its representation of Major League Baseball. Former Willkie Farr partner Bowie Kuhn served as Commissioner of Baseball from 1969-1984. The firm represented Baseball in the famous Curt Flood free agency/antitrust case in the United States Supreme Court in 1970 and successfully litigated famous cases such as the Pine Tar Game in 1983 as well as, later in the 1980s, against Pete Rose regarding the highly publicized gambling case.

In 1993 Willkie suffered a precipitous drop in business when Shearson Lehman, who accounted for one-third of Willkie Farr billings, was sold to the Traveler's Companies. The firm consequently adopted a policy that no client would account for more than five percent of its business.

In 1994, corporate partner Nora Ann Wallace became the first female member of the Executive Committee.[10]

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.

Two partners have served as American Bar Association President: Charles A. Boston in 1930-1931 and Harold J. Gallagher in 1949-1950.[11]

Two associates, Felix Frankfurter and Charles Evans Hughes, have served as Justices of the US Supreme Court with Hughes serving as Chief Justice.[12]



The firm has offices in nine cities.

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:[13]

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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]



Government service[edit]



External links[edit]