Biglaw, Gender, Litigatrix, Partner Issues, Partner Profits, Women's Issues

Congratulations to the New Wachtell Lipton Partners

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Associates are hoping that Cravath will kick off this year’s bonus season with news that engenders gratitude.

We’re also entering the season when major law firms announce their new partners. As we did last year, we’ll keep track of some of this action. Feel free to email us with information about the new partners at your firm and what the picks say about the firm’s direction and priorities.

At Wachtell Lipton, which announced its new partners on Tuesday afternoon, three lawyers can give thanks for being named to the powerhouse firm’s partnership. With profits per partner in excess of $4 million, they are the 1 percent.

Who are the new WLRK partners?

The announcement, in typical Wachtell fashion, was understated and to the point. Here’s the full memo, from Ed Herlihy and Dan Neff, co-chairmen of the firm’s executive committee:

We are pleased to announce that Karessa Cain, Elaine Golin and Emil Kleinhaus will become members of the Firm on January 1, 2012.



In terms of practice areas, Cain is a corporate associate, Kleinhaus is an associate in restructuring and finance, and Golin is a bad-ass litigatrix (who almost made me cry when I worked for her, then gloated about it to the New York Times). [FN1]

In terms of law schools, Cain and Golin are Columbia grads, and Kleinhaus is a Yale alum. Interestingly enough, all three received their undergraduate degrees from Yale. Boola boola! (Or moolah moolah, as the case may be.)

The three new partners are of varying seniority. Golin was promoted from counsel, Kleinhaus is class of 2002, and Cain is class of 2004 (so it seems she went up for partnership a year early; the usual track is eight years).

Of the three new partners, two are women. This is the first time that Wachtell Lipton’s new partner class has had a majority of women, as far as I can recall. The firm could use some help in the area of gender parity. Of the 78 partners currently listed on the firm website (the three new picks don’t join the partnership until January 2012), there are only six women: Ilene Knable Gotts (antitrust), Jeannemarie O’Brien (executive compensation and benefits), Deborah L. Paul (tax), Jodi Schwartz (tax), Stephanie Seligman (corporate), and Rachelle Silverberg (litigation). It was recently pointed out to me that there are twice as many Wachtell partners named David (12) as there are women partners.

(In fairness to the firm, there is a positive interpretation of the gender imbalance. It could be argued that it reflects the strictly meritocratic nature of Wachtell Lipton, where partnership decisions are made without regard to gender, race, or other demographic considerations.)

In any event, this is wonderful news for three very talented lawyers. Congratulations to the new partners!

[FN1] For the record, I do not recall the “temper tantrums” referred to by Golin in the Times article. But considering that I have repressed many memories of my time at Wachtell (2000-2003) — where I billed 2700 hours a year and still felt like a slacker — I can’t rule anything out.

I have the highest respect for Wachtell, and I definitely recommend working there. In the end, though, I’d describe my own time there like the week-long camping trip I once took: I’m glad I did it, but I don’t know that I would — or could — do it again.

Earlier: A Look at New Partner Classes at Ten Top Firms (and an Open Thread)

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