Biglaw, Fabulosity, Partner Issues

New Partner Watch: Another Big Partner Class At Cravath

Partnership at Cravath: Biglaw’s ultimate brass ring.

Working at Cravath, Swaine & Moore offers many advantages. The work is interesting and cutting-edge. The exit opportunities are unmatched. The pay and prestige are great (even though, as we’ve repeatedly emphasized, Biglaw isn’t all about the benjamins).

One of the distinctive features of Cravath is the “Cravath system,” in which associates work closely with a particular partner (or small group of partners) before rotating into another area to work with a different partner. This system produces well-rounded and well-trained lawyers. According to the results of our associate survey — please take it if you haven’t already done so — Cravath is the #1 firm for training corporate lawyers and the #2 firm for training litigators.

Of course, Cravath has its downsides; the firm is not for everyone. The hours are long, even by Biglaw standards. The atmosphere is intense; it’s not a laid-back sort of place. And historically partnership prospects haven’t been great, due to the sheer selectivity of the CSM partnership.

But are partnership prospects improving? For the third year in a row, Cravath has named a large number of new partners. How many of them are there? Might you know some of them?

In 2011, Cravath named four new partners — a sizable class by CSM standards. Cravath is large in reputation but relatively small in headcount. As firm chairman Evan Chesler recently joked when we spoke together at a recent law school symposium, his entire firm is about the size of Skadden’s real estate department.

In 2012, Cravath named even more new partners — five in total. We wondered if the big partner class, often taken as a sign of law firm health, boded well for bonuses (and we were right).

Will bonuses be even bigger this year? Because Cravath’s new partner class is, as noted in the firm’s announcement:

Six new partners have been elected at Cravath. They are: Donald Scott Bennett, Corporate (J.D., Emory University Law School; B.A., Duke University); John D. Buretta, Litigation (J.D., Georgetown University Law Center; B.A., University of California at Berkeley); Ting S. Chen, Corporate (J.D., Stanford University; A.B., Harvard College); Christopher K. Fargo, Tax (J.D., Columbia University; B.A., Boston College); Kenneth C. Halcom, Trusts and Estates (LL.M., New York University School of Law; J.D., University of Illinois; M.Mus., Indiana University; B.M., Millikin University); and David M. Stuart, Litigation (J.D., New York University School of Law; B.A., Wesleyan University).

Cravath tends to home-grow its talent, and these new partners follow that pattern. John Buretta recently joined the firm after a decade at the Department of Justice, but even he wasn’t a pure lateral; he had been a Cravath associate before he left for government service.

The group skews heavily male: five men, one woman. The practice group distribution is fairly balanced: two transactional lawyers, two litigators, a tax lawyer, and a trusts and estates lawyer. Yes, a T&E lawyer — interesting. While some firms are ditching trusts and estates, Cravath apparently remains committed to such work. (The firm has a long history in the practice area; its first woman partner, the fabulous Christine Beshar, is a trusts and estates lawyer.)

Congratulations to Cravath’s six new partners. The firm has a single-tier partnership and lockstep partner compensation, so these young lawyers will definitely see a pay bump next year (which isn’t always the case for new partners; almost 20 percent of new partners see take-home pay decline).

Has your firm recently announced its new partners? If so, what do the selections — in terms of number, practice areas, diversity, or other considerations — say about the state of your firm? Feel free to email us (subject line “[Firm Name] New Partners”) or text us (646-820-8477). Thanks.

Cravath Announces New Partners [Cravath, Swaine & Moore]
Cravath Snags Ex-Head Of DOJ’s Oil Spill Task Force [Law360]

Earlier: Which Biglaw Firms Have The Most-Satisfied Corporate Attorneys?
Which Biglaw Firms Have The Most Satisfied Litigators?
New Partner Watch: Does Cravath’s Bumper Crop Bode Well for Biglaw Bonuses?
Biglaw: It’s Not All About the Benjamins
New Partner Watch: Cravath and Simpson
A Look at New Partner Classes at Ten Top Firms
Cravath: Zero Associates Worthy of Partnership

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