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Davis Polk & Wardwell

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
File:Davis Polk logo.gif
Headquarters 450 Lexington Avenue
New York City
No. of offices 10 (2012)
No. of attorneys 787 (2012)[1]
Major practice areas Capital Markets, Corporate/M&A, Financial Services Regulation, Investment Management, Private Equity, Litigation, Insolvency/Restructuring, Antitrust, Credit and Tax, among others.[2]
Key people Thomas J. Reid Managing Partner
Revenue 11px $975 million (2013)[3]
Date founded 1849
Company type LLP

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP is an international law firm, employing nearly 800 attorneys worldwide, with its headquarters in New York City. Consistently ranked as one of the most prestigious in the world, the firm represents many of the world's largest companies and financial institutions, and is best known for its corporate and litigation practices.[4][5] Chambers Associate called Davis Polk the "Tiffany's of law firms".[5]


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 U.S. 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 the J.P. Morgan companies, as well as the Guaranty Trust Company, the Associated Press, and International Paper.

In 1971, the firm promoted to its partnership at Davis Polk & Wardwell its first woman, Lydia Kess.[8]

The firm has represented numerous clients in the financial crisis of 2007-2008, with roles in the AIG, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, and Citigroup matters.[9] It has also served as lead counsel to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in the U.S. Treasury’s $250 billion bank capital purchase program and the creation of the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility.[10] To bolster its financial regulatory practice, the firm recently hired three 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 Yanes and former FDIC General Counsel John Douglas.[11]

Davis Polk alumni in public service


Elected office

Law enforcement and financial regulation

Other government service

Other alumni


Media and entertainment



  • In 2012 and 2013, Davis Polk was named "Americas Law Firm of the Year" by the International Financial Law Review.[27]
  • In 2010, Davis Polk was ranked third in "Revenue per Lawyer" by the American Lawyer's top 100 National Firms.[28]
  • Davis Polk ranked among the top three U.S. law firms in a survey in which Fortune 250 law departments were asked to name the firms they rely on most in corporate transactions.
  • The firm had more #1 capital markets rankings than any other law firm in 2007,[citation needed] and in 2008, the firm advised the underwriters in the Visa IPO, the largest IPO in U.S. history,[29][not in citation given] and the GE offering, the largest follow-on offering in U.S. history.[29][not in citation given]
  • The firm ranked 3rd among U.S. law firms in both worldwide announced and completed M&A transactions in 2007.[citation needed]
  • Davis Polk was ranked among the top law firms in U.S. buyouts and venture capital investments by Chambers Global, which noted that the firm "is able to leverage off its outstanding M&A strength in covering the broad spectrum of private equity work".[citation needed]
  • The firm was ranked among the top law firms in private equity fund formation by Chambers Global, which noted that Davis Polk's investment management group "has a strong presence in the private funds market and has leveraged off the firm’s impressive finance practice in forging strong relationships with a significant number of investment banks”.[citation needed]
  • The firm's litigation practice ranks in the first tier among New York law firms, according to Chambers USA.[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”.[30]
  • At the 2008 ALB SE Asia Law Awards,[32][not in citation given] Davis Polk & Wardwell was awarded:
  • At the 2008 ALB China Law Awards,[32][not in citation given] Davis Polk & Wardwell was awarded:
    • Deal of the Year - M&A Deal of the Year
  • In 2008 was awarded by the 2008 ALB Japan Law Awards[32][not in citation given] as the:
  • In October 2008, a Davis Polk team working with the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund won a $4.6 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.[citation needed]
  • The New York State Bar Association presented senior counsel Jimmy Benkard with the 2007 President’s Pro Bono Service Award for the First Judicial District for his exemplary work on behalf of mentally ill prisoners incarcerated in the New York State prison system.[35]

See also


  1. ^ "The Am Law Daily--Top New York-Based Firms See Mostly Modest Growth". Retrieved 2013-05-20. 
  2. ^ "Davis Polk: Practices". Retrieved 2012-02-01. 
  3. ^ "The Am LAw 100, the Early Numbers: Profits Spike at Davis Polk". Retrieved 2014-12-08. 
  4. ^ "Law Firm Rankings: Vault Law 100". Retrieved 2012-08-12. 
  5. ^ a b "Firm Feature". Chambers Associate. Retrieved 2012-08-12. 
  6. ^ "Francis S. Bangs, Leading Lawyer, Dies". New York Times. March 3, 1920. 
  7. ^ Allan Nevins, Grover Cleveland: A Study in Courage, p.450.
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ "Davis Polk: Making Bank « Above the Law: A Legal Web Site – News, Commentary, and Opinions on Law Firms, Lawyers, Law School, Law Suits, Judges and Courts". Retrieved 2012-08-12. 
  10. ^ Archived October 28, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Scannell, Kara (April 13, 2009). "Davis Polk Recruits Ex-SEC Aide". The Wall Street Journal. 
  12. ^ a b Peter Lattman, Davis Polk Lawyer Nominated for Federal Bench, New York Times, July 29, 2011
  13. ^ [2]
  14. ^ Derek Jensen, Utah's Newest Senator - He's LDS, Liberal, and Rising Rapidly, Salt Lake Tribune, Jan. 23, 2010
  15. ^ a b c Ben Protess, Davis Polk Hires Former Antitrust Regulator, New York Times, August 18, 2011
  16. ^ William F. Kroener III Appointed FDIC General Counsel, Press Release, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
  17. ^ Amir Efrati, Davis Polk ‘Rock Star’ To Lead DOJ’s Fraud Section, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 20, 2009
  18. ^ Finra's Susan Merrill to Exit as Enforcement Chief, Wall Street Journal, March 18, 2010
  19. ^ White House Counsel Brings in New Staff, Legal Times, August 17, 2011
  20. ^ Lawyers Who Mold the Shape of the CIty, New York TImes, Feb. 25, 1996,
  21. ^ "CGI Leadership". Retrieved 2012-08-12. 
  22. ^ New HKEx Chief Touts China Ties, Wall Street Journal, June 10, 2009
  23. ^ Abercrombie & Fitch Names Ronald Robins General Counsel, Corporate Counsel, November 22, 2010
  24. ^ Francis L. Stetson, Lawyer, Dies at 74,' New York Times, December 6, 1920
  25. ^ Amory Bradford, 85, Times General Manager, New York Times, September 6, 1998
  26. ^ "Crystal McKellar of Davis Polk & Wardwell". Davis Polk & Wardwell. Archived from the original on 2009-03-17. 
  27. ^ "Davis Polk Named "Americas Law Firm of the Year" by IFLR | News | Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP". 2012-03-30. Retrieved 2012-08-12. 
  28. ^ "The Am Law 100 2010 - Revenue Per Lawyer (RPL) Falls Again". 2012-09-09. Retrieved 2012-10-09. 
  29. ^ a b "News | Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP". Retrieved 2012-08-12. 
  30. ^ a b Chambers USA (2007).
  31. ^ Who’s Who Legal–International Who’s Who of Insolvency & Restructuring Lawyers (2007).
  32. ^ a b c "ALB Asia - legal deals, law deals, law firm deals, lawyer deals". Retrieved 2012-10-09. 
  33. ^
  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. ^ [3][dead link]

External links