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Davis Polk & Wardwell

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Davis Polk & Wardwell
Davis Polk & Wardwell logo.png
Headquarters New York (NY)
Number of Offices 10
Number of attorneys 961
Practice Areas Capital Markets, Corporate/M&A, Financial Services Regulation, Investment Management, Private Equity, Litigation, Insolvency/Restructuring, Antitrust, Credit and Tax
Key People Thomas J. Reid (Managing Partner)
Annual Revenue $1,100 million
Davis Polk & Wardwell Pay Scale
(all numbers in thousands of dollars)
First year salary190
Second year salary
Third year salary
Fourth year salary
Fifth year salary
Sixth year salary
Seventh year salary
Eighth year salary
Ninth year salary
Tenth year salary

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, known as Davis Polk, is an international law firm, employing over 900 attorneys worldwide, with its headquarters in New York City. The firm represents many of the world's largest companies and financial institutions, and is best known for its corporate and litigation practices.[1][2] It is consistently ranked as one of the most prestigious law firms in the world and as one of New York's most powerful law firms.[3][4] The starting salary for first-year associates is $190,000.[5][6]


The firm traces its origins to Gunthrie, Bangs & Van Sinderen, founded in 1849 by Francis S. Bangs, an opponent of Tammany Hall.[7] The firm changed its name several times to account for new partners, using names such as Bangs, Stetson, Tracy, and McVeigh and Stetson, Jennings & Russell. Among other high-profile lawyers, Grover Cleveland served as a member of the firm during the interval between his two non-consecutive presidential terms.[8] Davis Polk was located at 15 Broad Street from around 1889 until 1959.

The firm takes its current name from three 20th century partners: John W. Davis, Frank Polk, and Allen Wardwell. Davis, a former U.S. Solicitor General and the 1924 Democratic presidential nominee, made 139 oral arguments before the United States Supreme Court, most infamously in Brown v. Board of Education, in which he represented South Carolina in defense of racial segregation. With Polk and Wardwell, Davis developed close ties between the firm and the J.P. Morgan companies, as well as the Guaranty Trust Company, the Associated Press, and International Paper.

In 1971, the firm promoted to its partnership at Davis Polk & Wardwell its first woman, Lydia Kess.[9]

The firm has represented numerous clients in the financial crisis of 2007–2008, with roles in the AIG, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, and Citigroup matters.[10] It has also served as lead counsel to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in the U.S. Treasury’s $250 billion bank capital purchase program and the creation of the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility.[11] To bolster its financial regulatory practice, the firm recently hired three former Securities and Exchange Commission officials—Commissioner Annette Nazareth, Director of Enforcement Linda Chatman Thomsen, and Deputy Director of Trading and Markets Robert Colby—as well as former White House Staff Secretary Raul Yanes and former FDIC General Counsel John Douglas.[12] Among its partners are former FTC Commissioner Jonathan Leibowitz.[13]

Chambers Associate called Davis Polk the "Tiffany's of law firms".[2]

Davis Polk alumni in public service

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Elected office

Law enforcement and financial regulation

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Other government service

Other alumni

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Media and entertainment



  • In 2012 and 2013, Davis Polk was named "Americas Law Firm of the Year" by the International Financial Law Review.[22]
  • In 2010, Davis Polk was ranked third in "Revenue per Lawyer" by the American Lawyer's top 100 National Firms.[23]
  • Individual Davis Polk insolvency & restructuring lawyers were named “Dealmaker of the Year” by The American Lawyer.
  • “Outstanding Young Restructuring Lawyer” by Turnarounds & Workouts and “Lawyer of the Year” by Law Business Research’s Who’s Who Legal–International Who’s Who of Insolvency & Restructuring Lawyers.[24]
  • Davis Polk ranked in the first tier among New York law firms in U.S. tax matters by Chambers USA, which commented that “with a ‘terrific team of excellent tax lawyers,’ the group successfully mixes M&A and finance, establishing itself as one of the premier law firms in New York, and indeed across the USA”.[25]
  • In October 2008, a Davis Polk team working with the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund won a $4.6 million judgment[26] on behalf of immigrant workers who were being paid below the statutory minimum wage by their employer, a popular Manhattan restaurant.[27]
  • In March 2007, Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) awarded Davis Polk its Heroes Honors 25th Anniversary Award for the corporate pro bono work the firm has done on the organization’s behalf.[28]

See also


  1. Law Firm Rankings: Vault Law 100,
  2. 2.0 2.1 Firm Feature,
  3. Best companies to work for|Vault Law 100,
  4. Best companies to work for|Best Law Firms in New York,
  5. Guess Which Biglaw Leader Is Raising Salaries Now…,
  6. Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP |Company Profile|,
  7.  Francis S. Bangs, Leading Lawyer, DiesNew York Times  (March 3, 1920)
  8. Allan Nevins, Grover Cleveland: A Study in Courage, p.450.
  9. Lat, David Oy Vey! Milbank Mistakenly Touts ‘Only Orthodox Jewish Woman Partner’ in Biglaw, (2012-01-05)
  10. Davis Polk: Making Bank « Above the Law: A Legal Web Site – News, Commentary, and Opinions on Law Firms, Lawyers, Law School, Law Suits, Judges and Courts,
  11. Archived copy,
  12. Scannell, Kara Davis Polk Recruits Ex-SEC AideThe Wall Street Journal  (April 13, 2009)
  13.  The 'Privacy Coalition' That Wants to Trim Data Regulations for Telecom Giants,  (May 11, 2015)
  14. Peter Lattman, Davis Polk Lawyer Nominated for Federal Bench, New York Times, July 29, 2011
  16. Derek Jensen, Utah's Newest Senator - He's LDS, Liberal, and Rising Rapidly, Salt Lake Tribune, January 23, 2010
  17. Ben Protess, Davis Polk Hires Former Antitrust Regulator, New York Times, August 18, 2011
  18. Lawyers Who Mold the Shape of the CIty, New York TImes, February 25, 1996,
  19. CGI Leadership,
  20. Francis L. Stetson, Lawyer, Dies at 74,' New York Times, December 6, 1920
  21. Crystal McKellar of Davis Polk & Wardwell,
  22. Davis Polk Named "Americas Law Firm of the Year" by IFLR | News | Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, (2012-03-30)
  23. The Am Law 100 2010 - Revenue Per Lawyer (RPL) Falls Again, (2012-09-09)
  24. Who’s Who Legal–International Who’s Who of Insolvency & Restructuring Lawyers (2007).
  25. Chambers USA (2007).
  27. Baxter, Brian Davis Polk Hands Big Tip to Saigon Grill Deliverymen, (October 23, 2008)
  28.  Gay Men's Health Crisis to Commemorate 25 Years of Leadership in the Fight Against AIDS at GMHC Heroes Honors 25th Anniversary Dinner,  (March 7, 2007)

External links