Biglaw, Gender, Law Schools, Partner Issues, Partner Profits, Women's Issues

New Partner Watch: Cravath and Simpson

New partners, jumping for joy.

Is making partner at a major law firm as desirable as it used to be? In an interesting article in the New York Times about the growing trend of lawyers leaving large firms to start their own boutiques, Margie Grossberg, a partner at the legal recruiting firm of Major, Lindsey & Africa, offered these observations: “In the past, associates found if they worked really hard and did the right things, they made partner. That’s not necessarily the case anymore. The odds are a lot slimmer, and it’s also not as coveted as it once was.”

These are all fair comments. Note also the number of partners who leave Biglaw behind for other opportunities, such as in-house posts, or government or judicial service.

At the same time, however, let’s face it: being a partner at a top law firm is still highly desirable. The pay, prestige, and perks are tremendous. In a recent survey of new partners by the American Lawyer, over 80 percent of respondents said their new jobs were either what they expected or better than they expected. As Aric Press of Am Law noted, “new partners are basking in the land of more: more money, more responsibility, and more information about their firms.”

This is especially true of partners at firms near the top of the Biglaw hierarchy — places like Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, with profits per partner in 2010 of $3.17 million and $2.64 million, respectively. They both announced new partnership classes this month.

Let’s learn about the new partners at CSM and STB. Maybe you know some of them — from college, or law school, or a case or matter you’ve worked on….

We’ll start with Cravath. The firm announced new partners via internal memorandum on November 10, then put the news up on its website a week later:

Four new partners have been elected from Cravath’s associate ranks. They are: J. Wes Earnhardt, Litigation (J.D., University of North Carolina School of Law; B.A., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill); Yonatan Even, Litigation (J.S.D., Columbia University; LL.M., Columbia University; LL.B., Tel Aviv University Law School); Benjamin Gruenstein, Litigation (J.D., Harvard Law School; A.B., Harvard College); and Joseph D. Zavaglia, Corporate (J.D., Brooklyn Law School; B.B.A., College of Insurance).

The new Partners will become members of the Firm on January 1, 2012.

In terms of headcount, Cravath is actually one of the smaller of the Biglaw firms, so four partners is a large class for them. In 2010, CSM named just one new partner. In 2009, the firm named no new partners.

The new class is heavy on litigators: 75 percent of the new partners hail from litigation, a traditional strength for Cravath. One of the new litigators is Benjamin Gruenstein — a member of the Elect (Souter / OT 2001), former assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, and younger brother of Wachtell partner David Gruenstein.

The new class is a bit short on demographic diversity; we believe that all four new partners are white males (but please correct us if we’re wrong). There is some nice credentials diversity, though, with all of them coming from different law schools — UNC, Columbia / Tel Aviv, Harvard, and Brooklyn — and different undergraduate institutions.

UPDATE (1:30 PM): As noted by a commenter, Cravath announced one partner back in August: “Matthew Morreale (J.D., Columbia Law School; B.A.S., B.A. and M.S., University of Pennsylvania) has been elected a partner in our environmental practice. He will become a member of the Firm on September 6, 2011.”

(The reason for the out-of-cycle announcement about Matt Morreale isn’t clear. Please feel free to share info with us if you have any.)

Now, on to Simpson Thacher. The firm announced its new partners by internal memo on November 21. (The news is not yet on the news section of the firm’s website, but expect it there soon.)

Our Simpson sources were impressed by the number of new partners. Said one STB source, “Twelve new partners — not bad.” Said a second, “I just hope some of this financial optimism trickles down to the rest of us!”

This is indeed a sizable Simpson class. In 2010, the firm named seven new partners, and in 2009, the firm named six new partners. So the partnership class just named, at a dozen partners, is almost as large as the two preceding classes combined.

We’ve reprinted the original announcement memo, from firm chairman Pete Ruegger, at the end of this post. For ease of reference, here is our annotated version of the list, including each new partner’s practice area, office, and law school (with J.D. or LL.B. year of graduation):

Ryan Bekkerus (Capital Markets / Securities / Corporate – New York – Georgetown 2000)

Mark Brod (Capital Markets / Securities / Corporate – London – Harvard 2001)

Andrew Calder (M&A / Corporate – Houston – University of Edinburgh 2000)

Brian Chisling (Energy and Infrastructure / Corporate – New York – Ohio State 1994)

Dan Fertig (Capital Markets / Securities / Corporate – Hong Kong – Columbia 2002)

Nicholas Goldin (Government and Internal Investigations / Litigation – New York – Cornell 1999)

Jason Herman (Investment Management / M&A / Corporate – New York – Harvard 2001)

Alexandra Kaplan (Banking and Credit / Corporate – New York – Columbia 2002)

Juan Mendez (Capital Markets / Securities / Corporate – New York – Columbia 1998)

Antti Pesonen (Restructuring and Bankruptcy – London – College of Law of England and Wales 1999)

Deborah Stein (Litigation – Los Angeles – NYU 1999)

Daniel Webb (Capital Markets / Securities / M&A / Corporate – Palo Alto – Harvard 2001)

(Please let us know if we’ve made any transcription or typographical errors in this list.)

All were promoted from associate, except for Brian Chisling and Deborah Stein, promoted from senior counsel, and Nicholas Goldin and Daniel Webb, promoted from counsel.

There’s a fair amount of diversity in terms of office locations — six come from the New York mothership, six come from elsewhere. There is some diversity in terms of law schools, with only two schools, Columbia and Harvard, minting more than one partner (but each produced three partners apiece, meaning that half of the new partners come from either CLS or HLS).

There’s not that much gender diversity. Only two out of the twelve new partners are women. (In case you’re wondering, “it is 15.417 times more common for Antti to be a boy’s name,” according to the Baby Name Guesser.)

In reviewing last year’s partnership class, we noted that “STB seems to see its future on the transactional side.” That continues to be true this year, with nine out of the 12, or 75 percent of the new partners, coming from corporate. (And that’s not counting bankruptcy and restructuring attorney Antti Pesonen, whose bio suggests that he goes both ways in terms of corporate versus litigation.)

Congratulations to the four new Cravath partners and the twelve new Simpson Thacher partners. Your many years of hard work and commitment, to your clients and to your firms, have paid off.

And now, if you please, Evan and Pete would like you to get back to billing….

P.S. If you’d like us to cover new-partner news at your firm, please feel free to email us (subject line: “[Firm Name] New Partners”), offering as much color commentary and inside info as you can about the selections. Thanks.

Skipping the Partner Track for a Shingle of One’s Own [New York Times]
Cravath Announces New Partners [Cravath, Swaine & Moore]

Earlier: Congratulations to the New Wachtell Lipton Partners
A Look at New Partner Classes at Ten Top Firms
Cravath: Zero Associates Worthy of Partnership


It is my pleasure to announce that the following attorneys have been elected as members of the Firm, effective January 1, 2012:

Ryan Bekkerus
Mark Brod
Andrew Calder
Brian Chisling
Dan Fertig
Nicholas Goldin
Jason Herman
Alexandra Kaplan
Juan Mendez
Antti Pesonen
Deborah Stein
Daniel Webb

Pete Ruegger

(hidden for your protection)

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