Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP

Worldwide Plaza

825 Eighth Avenue

New York, NY  10019-7475

Phone: (212) 474-1000



New York, NY (HQ), London


Corporate, Litigation, Tax and Executive Compensation & Benefits, Trusts & Estates


No. of attorneys:  490

No. of offices: 2

Summer associate offers (2009):  118 out of 121

Presiding Partner:  Evan R. Chesler

Hiring Partners: 

          Corporate:  Damien R. Zoubek

        Litigation:  Rowan D. Wilson

Vault's Scoop


·         “Best of the best”

·         “Strong in both litigation and corporate”

·         “Cravath is so last decade”

·         “A suit EVERY DAY”


All offices

1st year:  $160,000

2nd year:  $170,000

3rd year:  $185,000

4th year:   $210,000

5th year:   $230,000

6th year:   $250,000

7th year:   $265,000

Summer associate:  $3,077/week



Lisa A. Kalen

Director of Legal Recruiting

Phone: (212) 474-3215

Fax: (212) 474-3225




·         “Being on the best and most talked-about deals”

·         “Working with amazing, smart people”

·          “Lots of responsibility”


·         “Unless you are super-humanly efficient, you will have no life”

·         “Expectation of perfection”

·         “The fact that every lawyer you meet has an opinion of the firm, often not grounded in reality”


·         “Corporate discounts for various stores, theaters, museums”

·         “We get a pocket leather Cravath calendar and a litigation bag”

·         “50K mortgage loan guarantee”

·         “Softball, Basketball and Yachting are available to those who want it”

Fun Facts

·         “The building -- Worldwide Plaza -- had to have its structure reinforced during construction, at Cravath's request and at a cost of about a million dollars, to accommodate the enormous volume of paper and related processing equipment that Cravath required”

·         “The Lidless Eye of Paul D. Cravath keeps the pyramid at the top of the Worldwide Plaza alight”

Associate Life Verdict – Cravath’s reputation precedes itself, and associates are expected to abide by the lofty precedents set by their predecessors – talent and intelligence paired with untiring commitment.  The work demands are extraordinary, but so is the pay-off.


·         “I work hard. I work long hours. I am often tired. But, at the end of the day, I realize I am getting the best training I could ever ask for. I have found myself several times, in just under five months, negotiating or interacting with attorneys from other firms who are three, four and even 10 years my senior, at least one of whom was a partner.” -Junior associate

·         “The work is interesting, challenging, and fulfilling. Hours (and more significantly, unpredictability) are of course challenging, but everyone is extremely nice and bands together and there are trade-offs that make it worthwhile.” -Corporate associate

·         “There is no better place to practice law, in my opinion.” -New York associate

·         “The level of responsibility given to associates far exceeds that of our peer firms, which comes at a price - more hours. Also, it is possible to get stuck on the other end doing endless amounts of document review or diligence. It's simply a matter of what your assigned partner has going on during your rotation.” -Corporate associate

·         “I work on sophisticated transactions in a great group of people who are always more than willing to help out when the load gets heavy.” -Midlevel associate

Firm Culture

·         “Uber-Professional.  ‘Nuff said.” -New York associate

·         “While at the firm, people are social and friendly, but lawyers do not typically socialize outside of work together. We spend a lot of time together at work, so people tend to want to spend time with others when they have free time. People here value keeping separate their professional and personal lives.” -Litigation associate

·         “The firm is great. The leadership is especially considerate of associates and attempts to provide a family-like atmosphere. Most people wouldn’t associate family with Cravath but it tries to promote the ‘we're in this together’ atmosphere.’” -Midlevel associate

·         “People do seem to socialize together. If you do not come from a school that is highly represented here, it can be more difficult to find a social group, but for the most part, I have found that people here are nice.” -Junior associate

·         “Mature, type-A, and energetic.” -Corporate associate

Associate/Partner Relations

·         “Partners, despite being the most respected legal minds in the profession, and extremely busy, are always respectful of associates and their time. They also take the time to mentor and train associates for the associates' development, since they know the associates are the future of the Firm.” -Midlevel associate

·         “Partners assume you are always available and think nothing of asking you to be there for multiple 24-hour periods without making a single mistake in your legal work. That said, they are very respectful and cordial in their relations with associates.” -Corporate associate

·         “Polite and respectful while they work you to death. So you'll get a sympathetic shrug when you are handed a pile of work late at night or on a Friday afternoon.” -New  York associate

·         “I've had very good working relationships with the partners I've worked for, and I've been very grateful to work for them. They've always made me feel comfortable asking questions and have given me respectful, constructive feedback. I've also become close to them on a personal level and feel I could talk to them about anything.” -Junior associate

·         “They always listen to what you have to say, but they eat lunch in a separate room, which makes them seem distant.” -Midlevel associate

Office Space

·         “It is old-world beautiful-- everything looks very expensive” -New York associate

·         “The art is absolutely terrible, but I'm sure was very expensive. Haute crap.” -New York associate

·         “For one of the best, if not the best, firm in the country, the offices are surprisingly underwhelming. Could use a makeover of the carpet and old furniture.” -New York associate


Hours/Money Verdict –The hours can be exceedingly difficult, even “soul-crushingly” so, but the time is filled with ‘meaningful’ tasks and associates are generously compensated.


·         “Twelve hour days are the norm, as well as working on the weekends (although how many hours worked per weekend varies).” -Litigation associate

·         “Hours can be brutal. One thing I like though is that the firm is brutally honest about this from day one.  Not for anyone, but at least there's no smoke and mirrors here. With that said, when 2,500 hours a year is considered middle of the road, you know you can be in some serious trouble. It can be soul crushingly bad at its worst.” -Corporate associate

·         “I work long hours, but rarely do I feel like I am working them to impress anyone. Our work requires long hours, but our firm does not. When the work is done or is slow to arrive, we take time off and there are no questions asked.” -New York associate

·         “I work far less than my peers at other firms, because face-time is a non-component of Cravath. If you get your work done, you can go home. There is little to no busy-work.” -Midlevel associate

·         “The hours are often unpredictable and you feel you are ‘on-call’ 24/7.” -Litigation associate


·         “On a per hour basis, winds up being less than other firms because we work harder. But then again, in 2008, the partners took a 25% hit to profits but didn't cut/freeze salaries or lay off associates.” -New York associate

·         “We have complete lockstep compensation, which I really like (it was one of the big attractions for me), since with the rotation system if you partner is not as busy, you are not as busy, so having bonuses/compensation depend on billable hours wouldn't be as fair as a ‘free market’ system.” -Litigation associate

·         “Cravath will never be the leader in compensation, and it does sometimes feel like we're working more hours but getting paid the same as associates at other big firms.” -Midlevel associate

·         “Cravath associates are not fairly compensated in that they should be paid more like Wachtell associates for what is asked of them. If they surpass the vast majority of other firms in hours and quality of work, they should be compensated accordingly.” -Corporate associate

·         “Only complaint is a low bonus the past couple of years.” -New York associate


Professional Development Verdict – Unlike many of its peers, Cravath offers formal training programs that are both extensive and valuable.  Associates are equally positive about their informal learning opportunities, especially personal mentorships.


·         “Best training at any firm, hands down. Responsibility, client contact and negotiation opportunities at the first year level rival those of mid to senior level associates at other firms. This firm will entrust in you as much as you are capable of handling.” -Junior associate

·         “Most of the training is ‘trial by fire.’” -Corporate associate

·         “Formal training is organized and expansive; informal training and mentoring is more hit-or-miss.” -New York associate

·         “The formal training programs at Cravath are very good and informative. However, the mentoring program that Cravath started about three years ago leaves much to be desired. The partners aren't very invested in it. More window-dressing than anything.” -Litigation associate

·         “Early responsibility and high expectations force you to learn quickly. The formal training is thorough, but most of the learning happens on your feet.” -Junior associate


Diversity Verdict – While the associate corps is reasonably diverse, there is less diversity at the partnership level.



·          “Cravath says it’s a meritocracy, but partnership decisions don't necessarily reflect just who worked the hardest. There is not one Hispanic partner at the firm. The most senior African American associate is a 4th year.”-New York associate

·         “Diversity will always be an issue here. There's simply a culture clash, particularly with older partners still around that were at Ivy League schools pre-integration of women and minorities.” -Corporate associate

·         “I am a gay associate at Cravath. I was not looking to work at a firm that made me attend purposeless meetings meant to satisfy ‘diversity efforts,’ but was looking to work at a firm where I could be as ‘out’ as I want to be. Cravath is that firm. I am judged only by the quality of my work.-LGBT associate

·         “Lots of diversity among associates -- very little among partners.” –Midlevel associate


Overall Business Outlook Verdict – The lack of recessionary layoffs and salary freezes speaks volumes about the health of the firm’s business prospects.  That associates are swamped with new clients and major deals says even more. 

Overall Business Outlook

·          “Cravath has been on almost every important deal in late 2009 and early 2010 - it's a remarkable resurgence and feat.” -Corporate associate

·         “Cravath is probably one of the best positioned big firms because we lost very few major clients in the downturn. In fact many of our biggest clients came out of the downturn stronger than ever (e.g., JP Morgan).” -New York associate

·         “Firm is hopping right now. It seems that we're on 75% of M&A deals announced. Well staffed and positioned for a very strong next couple of years.” -Midlevel associate

·         “Seems like we're fine, never had layoffs, never had salary freezes, deferred some associates, but then changed course and allowed some to start on time.” -Litigation associate

·         “I think we're doing well - while we are a big office, the fact that we're not global has let us continue to be somewhat of a ‘boutique.’ We certainly have institutional clients, but many clients come to us with specific and very difficult problems, and that I think will continue to allow us to charge a premium.” -Junior associate

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