I used to work at Debevoise & Plimpton. Before I interviewed with them, I learned that the firm was called Debevoise (rhymes with “noise”) and not Debevoise (rhymes with voire “boudoir”).

Not everybody who showed for interviews had that level of commitment. How embarrassing for them. At Debevoise, they’re a little touchy about the proper pronunciation of the firm’s name — and not just with potential recruits. Do you know how stupid you sound when you are sitting with a bunch of Biglaw New York lawyers and your roll out with “Debevoir” or “Curtis Mallet” (as in hammer)? You sound like an idiot. People will make fun of you when you go to the bathroom. I once heard a person pronounce Cravath like “cravat,” and it was so jarring that I swear that’s the only thing I remember about the person. If I saw him again, our mutual friend would have to pull me aside and say, “That’s the ‘cravat’ guy.”

There are services out there to help you avoid these embarrassing mistakes. You should put in a little bit of time before you head to New York, or D.C., or L.A., or anywhere where top lawyers are likely to be….

We’ve mentioned before that Georgetown Law has a handy pronunciation guide for law firm names. It’s available online, for free.

We’re bringing it to your attention again because one of our tipsters thought it was silly:

How difficult is it to pronounce Sullivan and Cromwell?

Well, sure, that’s an easy one. But even something as simple-looking as Latham & Watkins gets butchered regularly. Or Proskauer. Really, it’s only people who work at Sullivan & Cromwell who think that they only need to learn how to pronounce names like Sullivan or Cromwell.

Oh, I’m just teasing the tipster. I’m glad for the email because it reminded me to highlight this resource. Summer is coming, folks. Make sure you know how to speak about firms at lunch without sounding like an idiot.

Law Firm Pronunciation Guide [Georgetown University Law Center]

Earlier: Law Firm Merger Mania: Edwards Angell Merges With Wildman Harrold


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