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Overview

Introduction

King of the elite law firms, Cravath basically wrote the book on legal practice and lawyer training. The firm attracts the best of the best and boasts a professional atmosphere rooted in respect. Those who thrive under pressure, with a strong work ethic and intellectual curiosity will fare well at the firm. Cravath has a strong reputation for its work in antitrust, banking and credit, capital markets, corporate governance, executive compensation and benefits, M&A, securities litigation, tax, trusts and estates, and white c...

Firm Stats


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Total No. Attorneys (2021)


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No. of Partners Named (2021)


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Featured Rankings

Vault Law 100...


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No. of Summer Associates (2021)



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Base Salary

All offices...


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No. of U.S. Offices

Vault Verdict

Getting through the doors of Cravath is no easy task—not that anyone would expect to just saunter into the nation’s most prestigious firm. Candidates should prepare for a callback that could last all day. Lawyers get along well, and there are high levels of respect, but the atmosphere can be intense, with long hours and high expectations. Those looking for hand-holding probably won’t find it here—although the firm does offer many CLEs and a useful mentoring, including an Associate Advisor Program that pairs mid-levels with juniors. Partners are invested in associate development and value associate input. Making partner at Cravath is difficult, and some feel the process is opaque. But associates agree that having Cravath on their resumes opens many, many doors. Reviews are mixed wh...

Firm's Response

The development of our lawyers is our most important long-term objective. Our fundamental strength—the rotation system, also known as the Cravath System—has remained intact because we, and generations of partners before us, believe that a personal investment in our associates is the best way to train and cultivate talented lawyers. Because...

About the Firm

 

With two centuries under its belt, Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP is one of the nation’s preeminent law firms. Cravath has settled on a lean-and-mean approach to world dominance with two strategically placed offices in New York and London. 

Storied History, Market Leader

Cravath is one of the nation’s oldest law firms, and it certainly has made its mark. Firm founders Richard Blatchford and William Seward both served in Lincoln’s administration—Seward was the Secretary of State. Over the years, the firm has had its hand in representing famed abolitionist Horace Greeley and inventor Samuel Morse, organizing NBC for its original shareholders, and handling the famed 13-year antitrust lawsuit that began in 1969 for IBM.

Cravath is a mark...

Associate Reviews


  • “I think we have a very respectful work environment where attorneys focus on getting the job done and doing the best work we can for our clients, and that is the top priority. There are still lots of opportunities to socialize and get to know other attorneys, but there is no pressure to do so.”
  • “It's been harder to socialize during quarantine (obviously), but the firm has done a good job of keeping the culture going and trying to organize online events/meetups.”
  • “Cravath's culture is collegial and professional. Attorneys are self-motivated and hard working. Due to long hours, socialization is more occasional, but the firm and teams try to incorporate [group] events and activities. Attorneys, however, are mostly focused on the work and build professional relationships that way.”
  • “It is Cravath—it is an intense place. But, the intensity forces you to be the best attorney that you can be.”
  • “Partners respect and value associates and non-partner track attorneys at the firm. Since Cravath generally does not hire laterally, attorney development is key to the Cravath model, and so every associate or non-partner track attorney on a team is used and valued. The rotation system further establishes this approach. There is low transparency as to finances and internal promotion, but the firm has taken steps to improve formal performance reviews. Many partners are adept at providing informal reviews and development on a regular basis.”
  • “The partners I have worked with are pretty invested in associates and at least make the attempt to engage in conversation and get to know their teams. Some partners are, of course, better than others in this regard. …”
  • “I work one on one with my assigned partner daily. We are always collaborating, making joint strategy calls, and he makes my judgment feel valued. Other partners I have worked with have similar dynamics with associates. [The] formal review feels a bit sparse, though.”
  • “I've had great relationships with partners at the firm. I think there is a lot of respect, and I'm regularly asked for my opinion as a second-year associate. The firm leadership is not as transparent as I would like it to be, but I think there has been an effort to make it more so.”
  • “We certainly work a lot, but generally, I find the work to be interesting and something I am excited to engage with. I get the sense that my coworkers feel the same way.”
  • “The hours are hard, and I've found that to be amplified with COVID.”
  • “I am so appreciative of the fact that Cravath does not have a billable-hours requirement. It really takes the pressure off and makes it so that when work is slow, I really get to enjoy my free time.”
  • “The hours can be relentless, with early weekend mornings and long, sleepless nights closer to the norm than the exception.”
  • “I personally love that bonuses are not tied to billable hours. It allows you to actually relax when you have a slow week, instead of trying to find more work.”
  • “I am compensated at the market rate. I would like to see Cravath become a trend-setter again, not just a firm that matches.”
  • “The lock-step model and lack of a billable hours allow for consistent compensation. However, there is no extra award or recognition for individuals who have had particularly difficult weeks/months/quarters. Perhaps this could be addressed with a small gift or prize, even if not monetary.”
  • “The compensation is very good, but frankly, we expect to be well compensated for the hours we work. … The bonus structure during COVID has been especially good.”
  • “I think I do spend most of my time on substantive work that is appropriate for my level. If anything, at times it is of a higher level of sophistication than I was expecting, and I get opportunities to learn on the job.”
  • “I was given pretty substantive assignments very early on, such as taking first stabs at major deal documents and meeting prep materials.”
  • “Very substantive litigation work: drafting briefs (appeal, summary judgment, others), preparing case strategies, preparing deposition outlines, leading meet and confers, managing discovery, researching and writing memos, preparing talking points for meet and confers, [and] drafting subpoenas and responses.”
  • “Cravath associates receive highly substantive work early on; I would describe this as Cravath's greatest selling point. My counterparts at opposing counsel firms and co-counsel firms are often several years my senior—and these are peer firms near the top of the Vault rankings. I often negotiate or collaborate directly with partners at those firms, and interface directly with clients. Cravath also has robust staff support, including paralegal teams and document review attorneys, which allow associates to focus on more substantive tasks.”
  • “Cravath seamlessly has pivoted to remote work. The IT department is top-notch, available 24/7, and provided Cravath attorneys with everything needed to successfully work remotely.”
  • “Technology wise, the firm has adapted wonderfully to remote working during the pandemic. We were set up with home offices, which were equipped with everything we could need, and there is a 24/7 IT staff at the firm that is accessible anytime.”
  • “The firm's technology does not exceed expectations but it gets the job done. The IT staff is very helpful and always available.”
  • “Perks include discounted exercise programs, wellness seminars, and other educational options. These opportunities are provided but at each attorney’s discretion to utilize.”
  • “The firm's wellness efforts do not feel particularly robust.”
  • “EAP program, weekly meditation, [and] gym reimbursements.”
  • “The firm has wellness initiatives (such as yoga classes, associate assistance program, etc.) that are advertised well, but I don't think the firm really shows as much buy-in so as to actually encourage associates to take advantage of them.”
  • “You get thrown in the deep end, which is terrifying to start but positive in hindsight.”
  • “There are a lot of CLEs, and all CLEs are available online on demand. Otherwise, [the] majority of the training is just really getting responsibility from day one. Associates are given long leashes to run the show, and the partners keep watch. Associates handle 90% of the communications with clients. By your second year, you are running portions of deals with significant importance and responsibility.”
  • “The Associate Advisor Program, which pairs junior associates with mid-levels, is fantastic. Formal training is difficult to do virtually, but I feel like the firm did its best.”
  • “Cravath's CLE program is solid. The extent to which you receive good mentorship from partners or more-senior associates depends highly on who is on your team or who you are assigned as a mentor. Generally, associates are well trained through feedback on their work product by accomplished partners or senior attorneys.”
  • “I think making partner would be very difficult here, but working here for even a few years really opens up a lot of opportunities either to lateral or go in-house. A lot of colleagues my year and above have already started lateralling or moving in-house to positions that were their top choices.”
  • “Cravath has made efforts to expand opportunities for senior associates who want to continue at the firm in a non-partner-track position. Exit opportunities abound for those who choose to leave Cravath.”
  • “At my level, the process is fairly opaque, which is to be expected. Over time, I would hope the firm provides clear and direct feedback and guidance to senior associates on the verge of [making] partner.”
  • “Pro bono work is taken seriously, and in my experience, Cravath devotes the same resources and care to its pro bono work as its corporate work. I have been very satisfied with my ability to devote large portions of my time to pro bono work that is important to me and am aware of associates who have spent extensive time staffed exclusively on pro bono projects.”
  • “Pro bono work is of the utmost importance to Cravath. There is an annual pro bono newsletter that highlights in 40+ pages many of the pro bono matters attorneys handle. Pro bono hours are counted as billable hours, and such work is highly encouraged at the firm.”
  • “The firm is very committed to pro bono work. It is one of the best things about the firm, in my opinion. Partners treat pro bono work, especially the larger impact litigation matters, the same as the billable cases. There are so many opportunities to get involved in pro bono practice, including both discrete, short-term projects and larger, long-term project. If you want to work on larger projects, it is helpful to work for a partner who often takes that kind of work on.”
  • “I have had several months with more pro bono hours than billable client hours. I’ve worked on six to seven pro bono matters within eight months at the firm, including primary responsibility for summary judgment briefing and arguing, appeal briefing, administrative briefing and arguing, and others.”
  • “The firm has made a push with diversity in recent years, but there is still a lot of work done to address inequities.”
  • “The firm invests in many diversity-related programs and brings in alumni/guest speakers.”
  • “I think the firm says it would like to be more diverse and ensure that associates of color are afforded various work opportunities. However, in the hustle and bustle of fast moving cases, the actual implementation gets overlooked.”
  • “Much more investment in affinity groups [and] greater diversity [in hiring] in recent years.”

Why Work Here


Here’s what you may not know:  The professional development of our lawyers is our most important long-term objective.  Our continued success depends on our ability to attract and develop the best talent, and we are committed to providing our lawyers with a rewarding and well-rounded professional experience.

We are not, and do not strive to be, the largest law firm measured by number of offices or lawyers.  Our goal is to be the firm of choice for clients facing their most challenging legal issues, most significant business transactions and most critical disputes.  To that end, we recruit the nation’s most outstanding law students and focus on training and developing them into world-class lawyers through our hallmark Rotation System.

Diversity at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP

"Our overarching goal is to provide the best possible representation to our clients. We have long held the conviction that excellence and diversity go hand in hand, and that we cannot provide our clients with the highest level of representation unless we recruit and retain outstanding lawyers from diverse backgrounds, with different perspectives, experiences and insights. Just as we pride ourselves on the diversity of our practice, we are proud of our commitment to promoting the diversity of our people at all levels. Faiza Saeed is our..."

Getting Hired Here


  • “I believe Cravath is looking for hard-working, personable people.”
  • “The vast majority of each associate class hails from Harvard, Columbia, and NYU. The firm seems to care more about grades than other peer firms but also focuses heavily on personality—which is why callback interviews last all day and usually (during non-pandemic times) include a lunch component as well.”
  • “The interviews are mostly casual and conversational with the goal of getting to know how enthusiastic the candidate is about working for the firm and whether the candidate is someone that we would like to spend our time working with.”
  • “The interview process is really conversation based. Partners and associates want to have conversations with candidates and get a sense for their intellectual curiosity, work ethic, and ability to get along with others at the firm. Grades [and] extracurricular activities (law review, clubs, etc.) also seem to play a role.”

Practice Area Q&A’s


Gary A. Bornstein

Antitrust

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
Allison M. Wein

Partner

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
Sasha Rosenthal-Larrea

Partner

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
Benjamin Gruenstein

Partner

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
David J. Perkins

Partner

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP

Perks & Benefits