Overview

Introduction

Wachtell has experience in the fields of mergers and acquisitions, strategic investments, takeovers and takeover defense, corporate and securities law and corporate governance.  They handle some of the largest, most complex and demanding transactions in the United States and around the world. They counsel both public and private acquirors and targets, handle sensitive investigation and litigation matters and corporate restructurings, and counsel boards of directors and senior management in critical situations.  They have...

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 1st Year Associates Hired (2020)



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No. of Summer Associates (2021)



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No. of U.S. Offices

Vault Verdict

Competitive is an understatement when it comes to landing a spot at the uber-elite Wachtell—the firm is one of the most selective law firms. Candidates should take interview prep seriously and be ready to discuss their interest in the firm’s specific work as well as substantive legal topics. Hard work and intellectual rigor form the backbone of the firm, but lawyers also value collaboration and get along well. Associates describe the firm structure as flat and believe partners are supportive of their development, though they feel decision-making from the top can be a bit opaque. The firm has a formal work assignment system for junior associates; as associates progress in seniority, there is a more free-market approach. Assignments themselves are high level, and associates are entr...

Firm's Response

Many factors set Wachtell Lipton apart, including our size, our structure, our culture, our work, and our compensation. The firm was founded in 1965 by four law school classmates who wanted to practice law together, two of whom are still very active and set the tone for all of us. We are a true partnersh...

About the Firm

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, and it stands above the going market rate for first-year associate salaries. 

 

The New York Four

 

Associate Reviews


 

  • Firm culture is very collegial—everyone shares and acknowledges credit where due and works together.”
  • “The firm's culture is very professional and collegial. Everyone here—from the partners to the support staff—cares deeply about the work they do and performing at the highest levels in the field. That dedication does put some pressure on associates to go above and beyond to deliver on each matter, but it makes us better lawyers. The day-to-day atmosphere is fast paced and focused, but the people I have interacted with during my time here have been kind, collegial, and passionate about the work. I have enjoyed the culture as a result.”
  • “There is a strong focus on work, and everyone is very busy, making it difficult to prioritize social activities or non-case-related connections.”

  • “Lawyers here don't socialize much together outside of work, but within the office, people are very pleasant in day-to-day social interactions. Prior to the pandemic, there were quarterly dinners outside the office, which were well attended, and some attorney participation in the summer associate program. Prior to the pandemic, there were also dinners Monday-Thursday for attorneys working at the office into the evening, and people would come for a few minutes to grab food and chat.”

 

  • Partners seem to really value the associates' opinions, and associates are often asked to comment on strategy and provide ideas. Reviews are conducted once a year; you receive in-person feedback from a senior and a more-junior partner. Decision-making at the firm is pretty opaque.”
  • It is a very flat structure, and partners treat associates with a lot of respect.”
  • There is a good deal of variety by partner for associate/partner relations—most partners treat associates well. …”
  • Firm leadership takes associate development seriously.”
  • Extremely hard work—but on the best matters. And with enormous and direct responsibilities.”
  • Lots of work, which is expected when you sign up to work at a place like Wachtell, but they do their best to distribute evenly, and there is no billable-hour requirement or pressure to bill a certain amount. (Although I can't imagine anyone would have trouble meeting a requirement if one was present.)”
  • We work a lot—especially as associates. Because the firm gives us meaningful work to do and not ‘make work,’ you feel that the time and energy is worth the investment and experience that you are getting. I have worked a ton of hours, but I feel like I've gotten three years' worth of the deal and matter experience that I would have gotten at one of the other BigLaw firms.”
  • I work as much as I would expect. I generally think that the amount of work is appropriate for the job and well distributed. There has been great flexibility in location for work during COVID-19.”
  • We work very hard and are compensated well for our efforts. I am deeply grateful for our compensation, and from what I can tell, it is the best in the industry. To me, our compensation reflects an appreciation of our work and sacrifice, and it demonstrates that the firm takes care of its attorneys.”
  • The compensation is incredible—it truly makes me feel valued as a junior employee.”
  • No relationship between billable hours and compensation; [the] firm is lockstep at every level, which creates more collegiality.”
  • Wachtell's compensation is second to none, and our bonuses are always lockstep, so everyone in a class year gets the same total compensation. The firm goes above and beyond on compensation—absolutely no complaints there.”
  • I think this is best answered with real-world examples. I have been at the firm for less than a year and have already worked on three mergers start to finish, in which I was typically one of only two or three associates on the corporate team. This meant I did everything from diligence memos to SEC filings to one-off research requests that the client was interested in. I've also done two or three financings/securities offerings, which have included actively drafting registration statements alongside partners and senior associates. The depth and substantive nature of the work I've been given this early in my career continues to be one of the best things about the job in my view.”
  • As a first year, I have done a wide variety of legal work, including drafting a brief, creating outlines for depositions and interviews, [doing] document review, and [handling] discovery management. I am the only associate on most of my cases, so whatever needs to be done, I do.”
  • The work at WLRK is unparalleled—it is challenging, important, and full of learning opportunities. You are given as much work as you can handle (and often more), and you are typically doing the work of much more-senior associates at other firms.”
  • I believe that the distribution of assignments is fair. There [are] both a central assigning partner and more rigid assigning system for junior associates. As you get more senior, it becomes more like a free market, which I think makes sense.”
  • “The firm has been really accommodating with providing the technology and support; working remotely has been completely seamless. All associates are provided with phones, laptops, extra monitor, iPad (with data plan), and any other thing you need that would help increase your productivity.”
  • “The firm has been adaptive with technology—Zoom and other virtual meeting tools, an incredible IT support department, use of contracts analytics software to aid with efficiency and accuracy of diligence, etc.”
  • “The work-from-home setup is basically the same as being in the office.”
  • “The firm is great and very generous with technology.”
  • They subsidize gym memberships (and are allowing virtual memberships during COVID) and have classes associates can attend. I do think more of an effort on mental health would be appreciated, but they have great meditation classes etc. as well.”
  • Programs are in place, but work is too overwhelming for any semblance of work-life balance.”
  • There are resources available, including meditation classes, notices of therapy apps that have been made available, and workout classes every week.”
  • Very little formal training—it's a sink-or-swim environment. You learn by doing and hitting above your weight class. The informal mentoring/training is good—the female associates have a supportive internal network, and you quickly learn which senior associates are best to learn from and work with.”
  • The Attorney Development team puts on a ton of programming opportunities, which is great for CLE as well as for brushing up on topics of interest. There is also a formal mentorship program, though that is hit or miss depending on the partners participating.”
  • “[There is a] firm-structured formal mentoring process, including an attorney and partner mentor as well as a class dean who is meant to help ensure you have the assignments and training that you are interested in. The degree to which that relationship is helpful depends much on each individual partner/attorney.”
  • I do not think there is a better firm [at which] to start your career. Partnership chances are realistic and reflect the old-school way in which a fair size of the first-year associates can actually expect to make partner. I think that bleeds into the culture—they see us first years as potential future partners, and they mentor us accordingly. For those who do not want to pursue the partner path, I believe attorneys are incredibly well positioned for exit opportunities.”
  • The path to partner is not very transparent; however, most partners are still on an eight-year track, which is shorter than most firms nowadays.”
  • Partnership seems more realistic than [at] other peer firms but is not guaranteed. Associates can transition to counsel roles. Exit opportunities are plentiful—for example, at other law firms, the government, in-house at a company, or in the financial services industry (e.g., hedge funds, banks).”
  • Promotion to partnership can be realistic for any associate, but it is difficult and requires top-notch work over a long period. The exit opportunities seem to be excellent.”
  • Pro bono matters are treated the same as paid client matters, which shows the firm's commitment to pro bono access and engagement.”
  • The firm puts full resources behind pro bono matters, but associates are expected to work on it in addition to their regular workload, which is very difficult.”
  • Attorneys are free to work on pro bono matters, but it is seen as an extracurricular that is really on the attorneys' free time. I've personally been involved in a good amount of pro bono work, but I feel that that work is not seen as ‘real’ work and is not taken into consideration in terms of overall staffing. This is a particular issue when the firm is extremely busy, as it has been recently.”
  • The firm has a long way to go on diversity but is moving in the right direction. Part of the work will be retaining individuals.”
  • I think WLRK is trying and making amazing strides and progress. It is hard, though, when there is a partnership that is historically white and male—change takes a while, but they are doing the work, and I am proud of what they are doing. Everyone is exceptionally respectful to everyone, and I have always felt that. I do wish we had more women/minority partners, but that is just a matter of time as they have really been working on promoting these associates.”
  • The firm is very receptive and has affinity groups based on race/gender/sexual orientation.”
  • Lots of work to be done here.”

Why Work Here


Wachtell Lipton is dedicated to providing advice and expertise at the highest levels and to achieving extraordinary results for our clients. We seek individuals who are talented, motivated and committed in order to maintain our record of excellence. Our associates, paralegals and administrative staff are critical to this mission. Our lawyers and staff work closely together across departments comprising an elite legal team. We are committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment.

Wachtell Lipton is an equal opportunity employer.  As such, it adheres to an employment policy that prohibits discriminatory practices or harassment against applicants or employees based on any legally impermissible factor(s) including, but not necessarily limited to, race, color, religion, creed, sex, national origin, age, citizenship, marital status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, disability or any protected military or veteran status.

Diversity at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz

"Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz is strongly committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment that supports the recruitment, retention and advancement of women and men of all backgrounds, at all levels of the Firm. We are an original signatory to the New York City Bar's Statement of Goals for Increasing Minority Representation and Retention. The Firm is committed to recruiting a diverse and talented body of lawyers considering diversity in its broadest form. We were one of the first New York City law firms to..."

Getting Hired Here


  • “The firm is quite selective; it hires from a small pool of top schools with very few exceptions, and values maturity, prior work experience, and some articulable interest in the areas in which we specialize.”
  • “WLRK is looking for top graduates from top schools, but it also looks for something more—the firm wants people who want to do the work. The partners and associates genuinely enjoy our work, despite its demanding nature. The firm offers no illusions about what it is like to work here. It's intellectually rigorous with a great deal of responsibility and long hours. I like that—so do my colleagues. The firm is looking for candidates who fit that description because it benefits no one to lie about what it's like to work here only for attorneys to end up miserable and the firm to end up disappointed. I knew exactly what I was getting into, and I'm happy with my work. I will also add that I've been pleased with our efforts to hire more diversely.”
  • “In general, the process is quite competitive and seems to involve a focus on good grades, strong performance in responding to substantive interview questions, competitive schools, and involvement in journals or other activities, among other factors.”
  • “General questions about [the] content on your resume and a substantive legal discussion, often on a topic you have experience or interest in.”
  • “The questions are more substantive than [those in] other firm's interviews.”
  • “I believe the firm is not looking for ‘yes people’ or juniors who would be happy passing the days with doc review and lateralling after a few years. They want people who will take ownership of matters and think hard about the right way to proceed, and they want people who are not afraid to express their well-reasoned positions. The interview process reflected these expectations. I was pushed on arguments, asked hard questions, and asked point blank if I would enjoy long hours of rigorous work. This is not the kind of place where the interviewers are just looking for ‘fit’ and chatting casually, though collaboration is prized. …”

Practice Area Q&A’s


Jenna E. Levine

Partner

Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
Tijana J. Dvornic

Partner

Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
Ryan A. McLeod

Partner

Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
David K. Lam

Partner

Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
Andrew J. Nussbaum

Partner

Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz

Perks & Benefits