Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP is a law firm headquartered on Sixth Avenue in New York City. The firm has well-noted expertise in its corporate, personal representation, entertainment law and litigation practices, having long been a leader among national litigation firms. Paul, Weiss won the honor of having the "litigation department of the year for 2006," according to The American Lawyer. The firm has also gained preeminence for its corporate work in mergers and acquisitions (especially in the private equity arena), capital markets regulation, investment funds formation, high-yield debt offerings, bankruptcy and corporate reorganization, employee benefits and executive compensation, finance, intellectual property, real estate and tax law.
Paul, Weiss was ranked the third most profitable law firm in the United States in 2006 in terms of average partner compensation after Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Cravath, Swaine & Moore (and fourth after these two and Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft in terms of profits per partner).
The firm's lawyers are counsel to many of the world's leading corporations such as Time Warner and Carnival Cruise Lines, and financial institutions, particularly staple private equity funds like Oak Hill Capital Partners, General Atlantic Partners, KPS and the Carlyle Group, to name but a few. The firm has received acclaim for its work on behalf of clients in the financial services, communications, technology, media and entertainment fields (entertainment law and personal representation of figures in the entertainment industry has long been one of the firm's key practice areas.)
A starting first-year associate at Paul Weiss is paid $160,000 per year
Paul, Weiss was founded in 1945 when Louis S. Weiss and John F. Wharton joined their legal practice with Randolph Paul and Lloyd Garrison. In 1949, it was the first Wall Street firm to move to midtown. It was also the first major firm to admit a female partner, Carolyn Agger, the future wife of Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas and a black associate, William T. Coleman, Jr., future Secretary of Transportation. In 1950, former Federal judge Simon Rifkind, a savvy litigator, joined the firm and was responsible for much of its modern growth. The firm opened a Chicago office in 1957 under the direction of Adlai Stevenson. The office closed in 1960. In 1967, former Supreme Court Justice Arthur J. Goldberg joined the firm. He joined the ranks of such notables as Theodore Sorensen, Ramsey Clark and Morris B. Abram. The firm briefly took on Goldberg's name, though it was dropped when the former justice left the firm in 1971 to set up his own practice in Washington, D.C.. The firm was known for its defense litigation work and had strong ties to the powerful Democratic Party establishment. Paul Weiss litigators represented Spiro Agnew in his nolo contendere plea bargain after the Watergate scandal. Other notable litigation clients in the 1980s included Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Bruce Bromley and the white shoe firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore in a discrimination suit.
Despite all the success and expansion, the firm has always remained true to its founding principles. In 1949, Paul, Weiss became the first major New York firm to hire a black lawyer, and it was also one of the first firms to elect a female partner. The words of name partner Simon H. Rifkind remain entrenched in the firm’s statement of principles: “We are sensitive to the fact that we practice in New York City, which is a pluralistic community and the major international and financial center of the Western world. We believe in maintaining, by affirmative efforts, a membership of partners and associates reflecting a wide variety of religious, political, ethnic and social backgrounds, characteristic of that community.” Paul, Weiss continues to make serious efforts to hire and retain a diverse mix of lawyers and support staff, through the work of the firm’s Diversity Committee and programs such as the well-attended annual Diversity Networking event. In 2006, Minority Law Journal ranked Paul, Weiss as the most diverse law firm in the country in its Diversity Scorecard Survey.
On October 10, 2007, Paul Weiss was included in a ranking of law firms by the national law student group Building a Better Legal Profession. The organization ranked firms by billable hours, demographic diversity, and pro bono participation. The results can be found on the organization's website, http://www.betterlegalprofession.org.
Paul, Weiss has also long maintained a strong commitment to diversity and public service, having encouraged their attorneys to undertake pro bono work. The firm is also recognized as being the most diverse law firm in New York, and the second most diverse in the nation. In addition, the firm has received recognition for its pro bono work, and has a long history of such efforts, having helped Thurgood Marshall prepare and argue Brown v. Board of Education. The firm's attorneys have also recently been involved in large scale civil rights litigation in the areas of same-sex marriage and prisoner's rights, thus contributing to American society as a whole.
Represents detainees at Guantanamo Bay detention camp who have been held by the U.S. military for more than four years. Recently, a number of the detainees went on a hunger strike to protest alleged inhumane conditions. In response, prison authorities allegedly force-fed detainees using feeding tubes shoved through the detainees’ noses and stomachs without anesthesia or sedatives. Paul, Weiss attorneys filed an emergency application demanding that the government immediately provide defense lawyers with information about the condition of the detainees. In a history-making ruling in October 2005, U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler ordered the government to provide the detainees’ lawyers with 24 hours notice before initiating a force-feeding, and to provide lawyers with the detainees’ medical records a week before force-feeding.