Within Biglaw circles, Cravath has long been romanticized as the ideal firm. Not only does Cravath control the Biglaw salary scale, but it’s known for supporting lawyers from the cradle to the grave, raising them up from associate to partner. Attorneys are known to stay at the firm for their entire careers, and they even enter and exit partners’ funerals as a group in a respectful procession that’s been referred to as the “Cravath walk.” (And no, there is no cult-like chanting going on, as was once rumored.)
Unfortunately, it seems as if there’s trouble in paradise, as things are quickly changing at Biglaw’s dream firm. Not only has Cravath finally deviated from existing with only an equity partner tier — it introduced a salary partner tier in 2023 — but the firm recently started hiring lateral partners, a move that was previously a rarity. Now, partners are heading for the exits — another previously unheard of feat.
As noted by Reuters, these departures are becoming more common as other firms are now willing to “pay a premium to poach top talent.” Relatedly, Cravath recently lost two of its partners to rival firms. Reuters has additional details on the partners making lateral moves:
Law firm Davis, Polk & Wardwell said on Monday that it has hired civil litigator Rory Leraris from Wall Street rival Cravath, Swaine & Moore, marking at least the fourth Cravath partner to follow the same path since 2021.
Another former Cravath partner also landed at a new firm on Monday, as Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer said it brought on M&A lawyer Sanjay Murti in New York. Damien Zoubek, who is the co-head of U.S. M&A at Freshfields, left Cravath for the London-founded firm in 2021. …
In addition to hires by Davis Polk, Latham & Watkins and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison each brought on former Cravath partners in 2023.
How much are competitor firms willing to pay to lure away Cravath partners, and which Cravath partners will be the next to take the bait? We suppose we’ll see, but in the meantime, Cravath wishes its former partners well.
Cravath partner jumps to Davis Polk, marking latest exit [Reuters]
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter and Threads or connect with her on LinkedIn.