2024 Vault Rankings
- New York#2
At a Glance
“Mentorship from specific partners.”
“The small teams mean you have a lot of learning opportunities and responsibility from the get-go.”
“The flip side of having fewer formal policies is that attorneys can have inconsistent experiences.”
“It can be difficult to take vacation.”
About Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
Each year, a significant chunk of the world’s dealmaking—major mergers and acquisitions, antitrust and shareholder litigation, big-name restructurings, and multi-billion-dollar real estate ventures—gets cranked through the well-oiled machine that is Wachtell Lipton. Manning the apparatus are a gifted few, whose compensation far outstrips industry standards. While it may not be the biggest or the highest revenue-maker as a firm, it is the most profitable place in the world to practice law. Wachtell Lipton is one of the smallest firms in the AmLaw 100, but it is continually one of the top firms (and usually the top firm) when it comes to PPP. t also stands above the going market rate for first-year associate salaries.
The New York Four
Founded in 1965 by four princes of NYU’s Law Review—Herbert Wachtell, Martin Lipton, Leonard Rosen, and George Katz—this resolutely New York firm still operates from a single Manhattan office. Public interest law champion Katz died young, at 57, in 1989. Rosen remained at the firm as of counsel until he passed away in 2014 at the age of 83. Wachtell and Lipton remain at the firm as active partners. In 1982, Lipton—who recently topped New York Magazine’s list of the most influential lawyers in New York—actually created the “poison pill,” one of the most famous and enduring ways to protect shareholders’ rights.
What sets the firm apart—even rivals concede—is that in a city of razor-sharp competitors, no other quite matches what Wachtell Lipton does. From its early days, the firm steered clear of run-of-the-mill corporate matters, choosing messier, riskier work. As such, Wachtell Lipton relies far less on bread-and-butter clients and politely declines more plebeian (though profitable) engagements. The firm was one of the first to link its fees to deal value, a model that became the aspiration of most major M&A houses.
When it comes to M&A, Wachtell Lipton reigns supreme, holding the No. 1 spot in Vault’s M&A ranking for more than a decade. It also regularly places among the top 10 firms in Vault’s General Corporate, Private Equity, and Banking & Financial Services rankings. The firm was involved in the death’s door resuscitation of Chrysler in the 1970s. It also played a key role in the much-publicized acquisition of Getty Oil Company, in which Texaco’s “white knight” offer was heralded as one of the greatest acquisitions in history. In more recent history, the firm has seen great success with LBOs and IPOs, corporate restructurings, and other finance matters. It took the lead on what some observers have called the most complex real estate deal in history: the successful negotiation of a master development agreement for the World Trade Center site following September 11, 2001.
See You in Court
The firm’s litigators are no slouches either, complementing Wachtell Lipton’s corporate practice with high-profile securities, corporate governance, and takeover matters. The firm’s notable cases are many, including Morrison v. National Australia Bank—in which the Supreme Court determined that Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act applies solely to those U.S. securities purchased and sold in the United States—and Martin Marietta Materials, Inc. v. Vulcan Materials Co. in which the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the order to enjoin a hostile takeover of the firm’s client based on improper use of confidential materials.
News & Awards
- Wachtell Lipton has repeatedly contributed to major evolutions in corporate law to advance the interests of its clients. Among other things, Wachtell Lipton originated the shareholder rights plan, or “poison pill,” invented novel two-tiered price structure to resolve antitrust-risk impasse in the $11.3 billion Valspar/Sherwin-Williams merger and structured the first cross-border “Morris Trust” transaction between SmithKline Beckman and Beecham.
- Wachtell Lipton has been involved in the transactions giving rise to most of the landmark corporate governance decisions in Delaware (and elsewhere), including the Corwin, Arconic, Allergan, Airgas, Sotheby’s, Vulcan Materials, Household, Time Warner and QVC decisions.
- Following the financial crisis in 2008, Wachtell Lipton represented the U.S. Treasury in connection with the rescues of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
- Wachtell Lipton is the leading firm for appraisal litigation defense, including winning PetSmart, the largest appraisal case in Delaware history. The firm also played a central role in the litigation related to the tragic events of 9/11 and a leading role in the redevelopment of the World Trade Center.
- Dealmakers of the Year (David Karp, Ronald Chen, Viktor Sapezhnikov), 2023—The American Lawyer
- Top Women in Dealmaking (Ilene Knable Gotts), 2023—The Deal
- US Impact Case Award (Bill Savitt, Sarah Eddy), 2023—Benchmark Litigation
- Top Dealmakers (Adam Emmerich, John Robinson), 2022—The Hollywood Reporter
- MVPs - Adam Emmerich (Real Estate) & Robin Panovka (Real Estate), 2023; Rising Stars - Elina Tetelbaum, 2022; Practice Group of the Year – Real Estate and Securities, 2023—Law360
51 West 52nd St.
New York, NY 10019
Phone: (212) 403-1000
Executive Committee Co-Chairs: Edward D. Herlihy & Daniel A. Neff
Total No. Attorneys (2023):
250 - 500
No. of Partners Named 2023:
1st Year: $220,000
Summer Associate: $4,230/week
Elizabeth F. Breslow
Director of Recruiting and Legal Personnel
No. of U.S. Offices: 1
No. of International Offices: 0
New York, NY
Executive Compensation & Benefits
Restructuring & Finance
*See firm website for complete list of practice areas and industries.