Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP


Davis Polk & Wardwell

450 Lexington Avenue

New York, NY  10017

Phone: (212) 450-4000




New York, NY (HQ),Menlo Park, CA, Washington, DC, Beijing, Hong Kong, London, Madrid, Paris, Tokyo



Capital Markets, Credit, Environmental, Executive Compensation/Employee Benefits, Financial Institutions, Insolvency & Restructuring, Intellectual Property, Investment Management, Global Technology, Leveraged Finance. Litigation, Mergers & Acquisitions, Real Estate, Tax, Trusts & Estates


         No. of attorneys: 748

         No. of offices: 9

         Summer associate offers (2009):120 out of 120

         Managing Partner:  John R. Ettinger

         Hiring Partner: Warren Motley


  •   “Everyone who works there is brilliant”
  •  “Outstanding”
  •  “Intense”
  • “Uber-polite to a fault


 All US 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

Summer associate:  $3,077/week


Sharon L. Crane

         Director of Legal Recruiting

         Phone: (212) 450-4143

         Email: sharon.crane@davispolk.com



·         “Fantastic subsidized cafeteria”

·         “Private banking relationships with Citibank and JPMorgan”


·         “Wonderful people; simply unparalleled”

·         “Fascinating, high-profile, cutting-edge matters”

·         “Reputation”


·         “Passive aggressive partners and associates”

·         “Eight hours of quality sleep is a long-distant memory”

·         “Apologies to loved ones for working so much”

Fun Fact

·         “Our namesake partner [Davis] lost the 1924 presidential election to Calvin Coolidge”


Associate Life Verdict -DPW attracts a certain kind of attorney: smart, driven, and ultra-professional.  While this does put a damper on socialization and office humor, the firm’s workload is gratifying enough to keep the talent in-house.


·         “I am immensely satisfied with my job so far. I wouldn't want to work at any other firm.” -Junior litigator

·         “I love this firm. As far as BigLaw goes, I would not consider working elsewhere. The other lawyers are incredibly smart and generally enjoyable people.” -New York first-year

·         “The job is very prestigious and rewarding. The hours are unpredictable and personal plans are regularly dashed. The work is stressful at times.” -Corporate attorney

·         “I don't have a problem with the firm, but I don't like the job.” -Senior litigator

Firm Culture

·         “Davis Polk has an exceptional culture - within a tough, fast-paced legal environment, the firm manages to find great people, the kind of people you generally don't mind staying late working for and with.” -New York litigator

·         “No egos; commitment to serving clients. Socialization is available but completely optional.” -Midlevel associate

·         “The firm is extremely professional, encompassing all the positive connotations of that word, as well as the negative.” -Tax attorney

·         “Formal and cordial.” -Corporate junior


Associate/Partner Relations

·         “I have worked with a half-dozen different partners since I have been here and they have been uniformly professional and pleasant. Some are reserved and others are hilarious, but all impress me as experts in their field.” -Corporate attorney

·         “The good treatment by partners is one thing I really value about working at Davis Polk.” -Management attorney

·         “As good as it gets. Our partners are an extremely dedicated crowd, at times stressed, at times funny, but always outgoing, helpful and taking ownership in the associates' development.” –Junior associate

·         “With a few exceptions partner relationships with associates are collaborative and respectful and provide valuable opportunities for associates to learn the practice of law at a high level.” –Corporate associate


Office Space

·         “Love it. Beautiful, spacious, and well-maintained without being gaudy or imposing.” –New York junior

·         “Our offices are beautiful and extremely well situated.” -New York associate

·         “Best location in NYC.” -Tax first-year

·         “It feels like I'm walking into a museum, or a fancy house that's been decorated by someone's rich aunt.” –New York new hire

·         “As a young lawyer, I share an office with another junior lawyer until I am at least in my third year.” –New York attorney

Hours/Money Verdict -At this end of the BigLaw spectrum, there’s no avoiding long, stressful hours that reap the firm’s lofty profits and associate salaries each year.  Ever a perceptive bunch, DPW attorneys are acutely aware of this -and they still work overtime. 


·         “Generally long, but goes with the territory.” -Experienced corporate attorney

·         “It's BigLaw. It's reality. Go in with eyes wide open and don't be a sucker.” -Bankruptcy associate

·         “At Davis Polk you will work long hours; however, people are incredibly respectful of your time off, vacations, and, where feasible, your weekends.” -Junior litigator

·         “Work hours are tough and unpredictable, and I have had vacations cancelled several times in the past. Partners are willing to accommodate, but at times are at the mercy of clients and deals.” -New York midlevel


·         “I feel very lucky to be compensated as much as I do.” -Corporate attorney

·         “The firm is on a lockstep system that corresponds exactly to all competitors.” -Junior associate

·         “I feel that our compensation is quite generous for the work we do. Bonuses in 2008 and 2009 were cut down substantially, but in the greater economic context, I think they were more than reasonable.” -Midlevel litigator

·         “Given that the firm was so profitable this year, it was a little bit of a bummer that our bonuses were not bigger.” -New York veteran

Diversity Verdict -DPW manages its diversity policies with better results than its elite contemporaries.


·         “The firm sees diversity as a critical part to being competitive in the legal market and has launched numerous diversity initiatives and supports diversity groups within the firm with funding.” -Corporate first-year

·         “Huge efforts to increase diversity ranks in the past few years.  Affinity groups have been set up to address diversity issues among different targeted groups. They are doing a great job at this!” -Experienced associate

·         “Each minority group has an ‘affinity group’ consisting of attorneys in that minority group and has a steering committee for events and various efforts. “ -Recent hire

Professional Development Verdict -Formal training ranks among the industry’s finest, but informal more closely resembles clear-cut independence.  Then again, if you can’t succeed independently, you probably don’t belong at DPW.


·         “Formal training is excellent, with very in-depth training. Informal mentoring is sometimes more difficult and associates to be very proactive in developing mentoring relationships with partners.” -Corporate senior

·         “Formal and informal programs. Junior associates are assigned a partner and associate mentor. The best mentorship opportunities need to be pursued on your own.” -Young attorney

·         “Great intranet resources and frequent trainings. The firm is also generous with funding outside training opportunities upon request.” -Midlevel associate

·         “They're extensive and helpful, though I think the best training is hands-on.” -Midlevel litigator


Overall Business Outlook Verdict –DPW appears poised to continue benefiting from the ‘flight to quality’ spurred on by the financial crisis.

Overall Business Outlook

·         “Forefront of financial crisis work. Prominence during the crisis has led to other work.” -Corporate junior

·         “We're well positioned because we have a strong presence in every group, which means that while we thrive when business is good, we also have enough counter-cyclical work to thrive when business isn't so good.” -Bankruptcy associate

·         “The firm seems very robust, and according to the capital markets we had a truly extraordinary year, in very trying times. That said, in this office at least things seem a little slow.” -New York attorney

·         “I don't have a magic 8-ball into the firm's finances, but my impression is we are very well-positioned in this economy.” -Experienced corporate lawyer


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