Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr

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Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP
Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr
HeadquartersWashington, D.C. and Boston, Massachusetts
No. of offices13
No. of attorneys1055 (2019)
No. of employees2015 (2019)
Major practice areasGeneral Practice
Key people
  • Robert T. Novick[1][2][3]
  • (Co-Managing Partner)
  • Susan W. Murley[4][5][6]
  • (Co-Managing Partner)
RevenueGreen Arrow Up.svg US$1.15 billion (2018)
Date foundedBoston, Massachusetts (1918)
Washington, D.C. (1962)
Company typeLimited liability partnership

Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP (known as WilmerHale) is an American law firm with offices in the US, Europe and Asia. It is co-headquartered in Washington, DC and Boston. WilmerHale is consistently ranked as among the strongest law firms in Washington, DC, New York, Boston, and Denver, and particularly for litigation.[7] It was formed in 2004 through the merger of the Boston-based firm Hale and Dorr and the Washington-based firm Wilmer Cutler & Pickering, and employs more than 1,000 attorneys worldwide.[8] WilmerHale ranked second in the nation in The American Lawyer's "A-List" of top BigLaw firms, was named Law Firm of the Year by The American Lawyer,[9] and is among the most selective law firms in the US for incoming associates.[10][11][12] WilmerHale is known for being particularly attractive to lawyers interested in public service, especially in the federal government. Many of the firm's attorneys have experience in the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, the Executive Office of the President, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and other federal agencies.[13] Notably, former FBI Director Robert Mueller is a partner in WilmerHale's Washington office, having returned to the firm in October 2019 after his role as Special Counsel to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.[14] Other attorneys at WilmerHale include Seth Waxman, former Solicitor General of the United States; Ken Salazar, former United States senator from Colorado and United States Secretary of the Interior; and Jamie Gorelick, former United States Deputy Attorney General.


Hale and Dorr, 1918–2004[edit]

Hale and Dorr was founded in Boston in 1918 by Richard Hale, Dudley Huntington Dorr, Frank Grinnell, Roger Swaim and John Maguire. Reginald Heber Smith, author of the seminal work Justice and the Poor and a pioneer in the American legal aid movement, joined the firm in 1919 and served as managing partner for thirty years. Hale and Dorr gained national recognition in 1954 when partner Joseph Welch, assisted by associate James St. Clair and John Kimball, Jr., represented the U.S. Army on a pro bono basis during the historic Army-McCarthy hearings. In 1974, James D. St. Clair represented President Richard Nixon before the Supreme Court of the United States in United States v. Nixon. In 1988, partner Paul Brountas chaired the presidential campaign of Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, and in 1990, senior partner William Weld was elected governor. The firm has had a long and mutually very profitable relationship with nearby Harvard Law School, alma mater of more than a fifth of WilmerHale's current lawyers, and home of the WilmerHale Legal Services Center.[15]

WilmerHale's DC office, spanning across three interlinked buildings on Pennsylvania Avenue

In 1988, the law firm established a subsidiary as a registered investment adviser. Initially known as Haldor Investment Advisors, L.P., and then Hale Dorr Wealth Advisers. In 2008 Hale Dorr Wealth Advisors became Silver Bridge.[16]

Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, 1962–2004[edit]

Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering was founded in Washington in 1962 by former Cravath attorneys Lloyd Cutler and John Pickering, along with a senior lawyer, Richard H. Wilmer. Cutler, who later served as White House Counsel to Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, founded the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in 1962 and served on its executive committee until 1987.

In the 1980s, Cutler led the founding of the Southern Africa Legal Services and Legal Education Project, to aid South African lawyers who fought to implement the rule of law during apartheid. From 1981 to 1993, partner C. Boyden Gray left the firm to serve as White House Counsel to Vice President and President George H. W. Bush. In 2003, partner Jamie Gorelick began serving as a member of the 9/11 Commission.

Combined firm, 2004–present[edit]

The two firms merged to form Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr in 2004, with headquarters now in both Boston and Washington.[8]

In 2010, the law firm relocated its administrative support base to a new campus in Dayton, Ohio as it sought to streamline internal business operations across its many offices.[17] The office houses more than 200 employees from existing WilmerHale offices and new employees from the Dayton area. Individuals in the Business Services Center include administrative support staff, bringing together services such as finance, human resources, information technology services, operations, document review and management, and practice management, which will provide improved efficiencies for administrative teams and the firm, and reduce significant operational expenses.


WilmerHale has been consistently ranked as one of the most prestigious law firms in the United States.[11] As such, WilmerHale is one of the most competitive law firms for incoming associates, who typically come from top-ranked law schools, graduate at or near the top of their class, and serve on law review or other journals. Many incoming associates at WilmerHale complete federal clerkships, either at U.S. district courts or the U.S. courts of appeals.[10] According to one study examining political donations by large white shoe firms, WilmerHale was ranked as the most liberal out of the top twenty most prestigious law firms in the nation.[18]

In 2019, WilmerHale ranked 2nd in The American Lawyer's popular "A-List" of the nation's twenty leading law firms based on revenue per lawyer, pro bono work, associate satisfaction and diversity.[12] It ranks as one of the "Best Law Firms to Work For," one of the law firms with the "Best Compensation Package," and one of the law firms with the "Best Culture."[19] The Washington Post ranked WilmerHale as the #1 top workplace in DC in 2019 and noted that the firm "has played a leading role in reimagining what 'Big Law' can be."[20] WilmerHale is held in particular esteem for its prowess in the areas of white-collar criminal defense, intellectual property litigation, and appellate litigation.[21][22][23]


A Civil Action[edit]

In the late 1980s, Hale and Dorr partner Jerome Facher represented Beatrice Foods in a suit by eight families from Woburn, Massachusetts who claimed that Beatrice, along with W.R. Grace, had polluted the town's water supply, resulting in an elevated number of leukemia cases and immune-system disorders. The case was memorialized in the book A Civil Action, by Jonathan Harr, and in a movie of the same name starring Robert Duvall as Facher and John Travolta as plaintiffs' lawyer Jan Schlichtmann.[24] Upon further discovery, the EPA took the case on and W.R. Grace was successfully indicted for making false statements. Both W. R. Grace and Beatrice Foods paid a total $64.9M to clean up the contaminated sites in Woburn.

Enron and WorldCom reports[edit]

In the wake of news articles raising concerns about transactions between Enron and its CFO, Andy Fastow, lawyers from Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering represented a special investigative committee of Enron's board of directors in an internal investigation into those transactions. The resulting report, known as the "Powers Report," laid out the facts that have been the predicate for much of the public discussion of Enron since that time.[25]

Similarly, after WorldCom's announcement that it would have to restate financial statements, the firm represented a special investigative committee of WorldCom's board of directors in performing an internal investigation into the accounting irregularities. The investigation resulted in a widely covered written report that detailed a variety of accounting issues as well as the role of management and the board of directors.[26]

Other notable and controversial clients[edit]

In 1986, Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering represented corporate raider Ivan Boesky in high-profile Department of Justice and SEC proceedings, as well as multiple class actions based on his participation in insider trading violations.

Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering represented Swiss banks accused of profiting from the Holocaust in their settlement negotiations with plaintiffs. The firm also represented Siemens AG, Krupp AG, and other German companies accused of exploiting forced laborers during the Nazi era.[27]

Since 2005, WilmerHale has represented Senator William Frist in regard to an SEC insider trading investigation.[28]

WilmerHale was hired to represent PepsiCo in the SEC investigation related to the departure of PepsiCo general counsel Maura Smith. In the course of this representation, a WilmerHale attorney inadvertently e-mailed a confidential legal memorandum to a Wall Street Journal reporter as part of an internal communication to other attorneys working on the matter, which made several details of the investigation public.[29]

Pro bono[edit]

Both Hale and Dorr and Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering have a long history of involvement in pro bono work. WilmerHale has ranked at or near the top of The American Lawyer's pro bono ranking since the merger. In recent years, the firm has been involved in several high-profile cases.

Guantanamo controversy[edit]

A team of WilmerHale attorneys represents the "Algerian Six", a group of men who fell under suspicion of planning to attack the US embassy in Bosnia and who are now held in the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp.[30]

In 2006, attorney Melissa Hoffer, then part of the team with WilmerHale, delivered a speech in Caen, France, critical of U.S. detainee policy.[31] Other WilmerHale lawyers participating in the case include Stephen Oleskey[32] and Rob Kirsch.[30]

In January 2007, Cully Stimson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, criticized WilmerHale and other major law firms for representing "the very terrorists who hit their bottom line back in 2001," and questioned whether such work was really being done pro bono or might actually receive funding from shadowy sources.[33] In a Wall Street Journal editorial criticizing Stimson, Harvard Law School professor (and former United States Solicitor General under President Reagan) Charles Fried wrote:

It is no surprise that firms like WilmerHale (which represents both Big Pharma and Tobacco Free Kids), Covington & Burling (which represents both Big Tobacco and Guantanamo detainees), and the other firms on Mr. Stimson's hit list, are among the most sought-after by law school graduates, and retain the loyalty and enthusiasm of their partners. They offer their lawyers the profession at its best and help assure that the rule of law is not just a slogan but a satisfying way of life.[34]

In December 2007, Seth Waxman made the oral argument to the Supreme Court in Boumediene v. Bush which upheld habeas corpus rights for detainees at Guantanamo Bay.[35]

Attorneys and lawyers[edit]

Notable attorneys and lawyers, past and present:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ www.bizjournals.com https://www.bizjournals.com/washington/news/2017/12/06/boston-properties-lands-anchor-tenant-for-its.html. Retrieved 2020-09-04. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ Randazzo, Sara (2016-10-05). "Wilmer Snags Another Government Hire, This Time From Homeland Security". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  3. ^ www.bizjournals.com https://www.bizjournals.com/denver/blog/earth_to_power/2015/04/wilmerhales-snatches-another-denver-attorney-this.html. Retrieved 2020-09-04. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ "Gibson Dunn Capital Markets Partner Jumps to WilmerHale". news.bloomberglaw.com. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  5. ^ December 03, James Schroeder |; AM, 2018 at 07:00. "National Women in Law Awards: Susan W. Murley". Corporate Counsel. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  6. ^ www.bizjournals.com https://www.bizjournals.com/boston/news/2019/04/24/wilmerhale-lags-other-big-boston-law-firms-in.html. Retrieved 2020-09-04. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ "WilmerHale | Company Profile | Vault.com". Vault. Retrieved 2021-07-24.
  8. ^ a b Jonathan D. Glater (April 20, 2004). "2 Law Firms Plan to Merge, Creating One of Global Size". New York Times.
  9. ^ "The American Lawyer". Retrieved February 10, 2021.
  10. ^ a b "Vault". Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Selectivity". Vault. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
  12. ^ a b "A-List". Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  13. ^ "WilmerHale Government Experience". WilmerHale. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  14. ^ Noah Weiland (October 1, 2019). "Robert Mueller Rejoins Law Firm to Conduct Corporate Investigations". The New York Times.
  15. ^ "WilmerHale Legal Services Center". Harvard Law School. Retrieved May 7, 2013.
  16. ^ "Hale and Dorr Wealth Advisors Announces The Next Generation of Its Firm: Silver Bridge Advisors". Business Wire. September 29, 2008.
  17. ^ Amanda Becker (May 3, 2010). "WilmerHale moving support staff to Ohio". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 7, 2013.
  18. ^ "How are Quinn Emmanuel and Hillary Clinton Alike". About. biglawbusiness.com. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
  19. ^ "Recognition". WilmerHale. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
  20. ^ "Top Workplaces 2019". The Washington Post.
  21. ^ "Best Law Firms for White Collar Defense & Internal Investigations". Vault. Retrieved 2021-07-16.
  22. ^ "Best Law Firms for Intellectual Property". Vault. Retrieved 2021-07-16.
  23. ^ "Best Law Firms for Appellate Litigation". Vault. Retrieved 2021-07-16.
  24. ^ "A Civil Action". Penguin Random House.
  25. ^ "Report of Investigation by the Special Investigative Committee of the Board of Directors of Enron Corp" (PDF). February 1, 2002.
  26. ^ Larry Schlesinger (June 10, 2003). "WorldCom report: Sullivan masterminded fraud". Accountancy Age. Retrieved May 7, 2013.
  27. ^ Michael J. Bazyler (Fall 2004). "Suing Hitler's Willing Business Partners: American Justice and Holocaust Morality". Jewish Political Studies Review. Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. 16 (3–4).
  28. ^ "The Senate: Doubting a Trust". Newsweek. October 9, 2005.
  29. ^ Ackerman, Andrew; Palazzolo, Joe; Maloney, Jennifer (2017-09-27). "SEC Probes Departure of PepsiCo's Former Top Lawyer". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2017-09-28.
  30. ^ a b Farah Stockman (July 2, 2008). "Lawyers make huge pro bono effort for Guantanamo detainees". The New York Times.
  31. ^ Melissa Hoffer. "Speech". New York University.
  32. ^ "Top Pentagon Official Calls for Boycott of Law Firms Representing Guantanamo Prisoners". Democracy Now!. January 17, 2007. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  33. ^ "Bush Lawyer Blasts Law Firms For Representing Detainees" post by Peter Lattman on Law Blog [Wall Street Journal] on the cases, trends and personalities of interest to the business community, January 12, 2007
  34. ^ "Stimson Under Fire" post by Peter Lattman on Law Blog [Wall Street Journal] on the cases, trends and personalities of interest to the business community, January 16, 2007
  35. ^ "Boumediene v. Bush, 12/5/07, No. 06-1195" (PDF). Supreme Court of the United States. December 5, 2007.
  36. ^ https://www.northropgrumman.com/who-we-are/leadership/sheila-cheston/

External links[edit]