Carter G. Phillips
When I initially read the title of this article in the NY Times, I thought, “finally, Wall Street is going to stand up to Obama’s wealth redistribution games.” Which was then followed closely by, “WTF? AYFKM? Carter G. Phillips of Sidley Austin? Barry and Mishy’s old law firm? What’s the game now, and I bet Davis Polk & Wardwell are not happy, or maybe they just don’t want to touch this one.”
Wall Street’s main lobbying arm has hired a top Supreme Court litigator to study a possible legal battle against a bank tax proposed by the Obama administration, on the theory that it would be unconstitutional, according to three industry officials briefed on the matter.
In an e-mail message sent last week to the heads of Wall Street legal departments, executives of the lobbying group, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, wrote that a bank tax might be unconstitutional because it would unfairly single out and penalize big banks, according to these officials, who did not want to be identified to preserve relationships with the group’s members.
The message said the association had hired Carter G. Phillips of Sidley Austin, who has argued dozens of cases before the Supreme Court, to study whether a tax on one industry could be considered arbitrary and punitive, providing the basis for a constitutional challenge, they said.
For those that do not know the background of Sidley Austin and the Obama’s connection to this law firm, go here; it’s a long read but well worth it.
Let’s check out who is exempt from the “bank tax”. Wow – all the government owned entities. An ever expanding pie for the federal government.
There may be room for compromise. Administration officials hope to keep the proposed tax limited to major financial institutions with more than $50 billion in assets but consider that a difficult line to draw. For example, the proposed tax would not apply to large hedge funds; the mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; or the carmakers Chrysler and General Motors.
“We believe the lines we have drawn are sound and sensible,” said Gene B. Sperling, a senior Treasury Department official. “We understand these are the type of things we will need to keep an open mind on in negotiations with Congress.”
The financial lobby has insisted that it is unfair for banks to cover the cost of losses tied to nonbank bailout recipients like the automakers and the American International Group, the giant insurer that is now majority-owned by the government. In an appearance on CNBC on Thursday, Representative Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, called the argument over including the automakers legitimate.
At the lobbying group, the selection of Mr. Phillips of Sidley Austin raised eyebrows because it suggests that Wall Street may be spoiling for a fight. Davis Polk & Wardwell, another white-shoe law firm, has been advising the same lobbying group on legal matters tied to new financial regulation.
(4/2/09 Author’s note: Debevoise? Nice Browser! And for Debevoise and Davis – why are you looking at the Bilderberg list when the Pilgrims are running the show?)
(4/1/09 Author’s 2nd note: Davis – you should donate to the Monster!)
(Author’s Note: Please refresh the page from time to time and go to the end to see the who’s who that has come by to see this post.)
On New Year’s Eve of 2008, I published the first article in the series ‘America’s Economic Collapse: An Intricate Web of Money, Power, and Political Agendas’ which I then moved to The Fed page at the top of this blog. In that series, I wrote about how the Federal Reserve System was formed, who was behind it, and how these same people moved onto start the Council on Foreign Relations and quite a few other big name players in the game. I stated somewhere in those four articles that I had not yet found the center of the web. A few weeks ago I stumbled on something that sent up red flags and now I am convinced I have found the center, but the scope of the web and it’s various threads is going to do what the Socialism series and The Fed series did not; your head will explode and many of the nagging questions you are having about everything currently happening in the world are going to be answered. The scope of the web is so great, I have decided to start writing about the different cast of characters so that when I present the web, you will already have some of the background. These particular characters are just the facilitators, not the main spiders. Let me just add that it is my belief that the Bilderberg Group, though powerful, is a red herring to attract and distract.
Debevoise & Plimpton have spent some time on my site and they were the first to let me know that something was afoot, and when Davis, Polk & Wardwell showed up, the confirmation was in hand. The attacks my site has suffered in the past two weeks are probably nothing to which will probably occur as soon as I post this, so be advised that if my site goes down or is running slow, it is because of the web. The areas bolded are my emphasis, and are your guideposts to the players involved.
Let’s meet Debevoise & Plimpton.
Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a prominent international law firm based in New York City. Founded in 1931 by Eli Whitney Debevoise and William Stevenson, Debevoise has been a long established leader in corporate litigation and large financial transactions. In recent years, its practice has taken on an increasingly international component. The firm currently employs about 680 lawyers in eight offices throughout the world.
Debevoise & Plimpton is mentioned several times in the TV show The West Wing. In the show, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman’s father was a partner at Debevoise. Additionally, an assistant attorney general in the show was a Summer Associate at Debevoise and a prospective White House counsel candidate was interviewing for a position as an Associate at Debevoise.
Controversial Georgian businessman, Badri Patarkatsishvili spent the six hours of his final day at the offices of Debevoise & Plimpton, meeting his lawyer Lord Goldsmith QC, shortly before being driven to Berezovsky’s office in Mayfair and then to his country mansion in Leatherhead, Surrey where he collapsed and died with heart attack at the age of 52.
Some of Debevoise’s clients include: American Airlines, AXA, BNP Paribas, CNN, The Coca-Cola Company, Delta Airlines, Deutsche Bank, Gap, MetLife, JPMorgan Chase, NBC, SONY, The New York Times Company, Goldman Sachs, National Football League, National Hockey League, Prudential Financial, Shell Oil Company, Siemens, Universal Music Group, Verizon, Yahoo!, and Hasbro.
Debevoise & Plimpton is one of the United States’ major law firms. Clients such as American Airlines, the Democratic National Committee, the National Football League, and The New York Times receive advice from the Debevoise firm on intellectual property, tax, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, and other legal specialties. Although the firm has relatively few foreign offices, its far-flung international practice makes Debevoise & Plimpton a major player in the globalization of the world’s economy. It also is a leading provider of pro bono services to those with limited resources.
In 1931 Eli Whitney Debevoise and William Stevenson, two associates at the New York law firm of Davis Polk & Wardwell, decided to form their own partnership. Two years later, Francis Plimpton joined them, and in 1936 Robert G. Page became the fourth name partner.
Initially the new partnership received work from some of New York City’s large law firms, including Davis Polk & Wardwell, Sullivan & Cromwell, and Milbank Tweed. Its early work for Phelps Dodge increased until it became their first corporate client. The firm’s bankruptcy work for Kreuger & Toll in 1932 also helped it get started. The partnership also represented the Southwestern Bell Telephone Company in one of the first public stock offerings issued under the newly enacted Securities Act of 1933.
Starting in the Depression years, lawyers at the young firm did considerable reorganization work for the Florida East Coast, Central of Georgia, Norfolk Southern, New Haven, and Erie railroads, and also public utilities such as American Power & Light and General Gas & Electric. The 1930s also marked the beginning of the firm’s service for the St. Joe Lead Company that had mines in Missouri and New York State and also for the Consolidation Coal Company that eventually became the nation’s major bituminous coal company. In 1937 the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company came to the partnership to request assistance in a private securities placement, a new form of financing that was developed to avoid the strict requirements of public securities. Similar work for other insurance companies became a prominent part of the law firm. By 1940 the partnership gained as clients the investment counsel firm of Scudder, Stevens & Clark and also Tampax Inc., later renamed Tambrands Inc.
During World War II, the law firm lost several lawyers as they left to support the war effort. For example, Stevenson left to head the Red Cross. Although Debevoise remained with the firm, he spent many hours as the chairman of an Alien Enemy Hearing Board in New York City. At the time, because the firm’s attorneys were not specialists, they were able to handle work left by those who had joined the military. After the firm merged in 1943 with Hatch, McLean, Root & Hinch, it had 13 lawyers. At the end of 1944, the number had grown to 19 lawyers, increasing further as veterans returned in 1945.
In 1948 the young law firm gained American Airlines as a major client when it decided to move its headquarters to New York City from Washington, D.C. As the airline’s general counsel, the firm earned at least $150,000 in annual income, and American Airlines remained a client for several decades.
In the early years of the Cold War, firm partner Edward C. McLean defended Alger Hiss in what D. Bret Carlson called ‘undoubtedly the most publicized matter ever handled by the firm.’ Accused in 1948 by Whitaker Chambers of transmitting government documents to the Russians in the 1930s, Hiss demanded a public trial to defend himself. Although he was never convicted of spying, in 1949 he was convicted of perjury in a controversial case during the second Red Scare.
After World War II, the firm’s reputation increased from its partners’ work in government, higher education, and business. Phelps Dodge Corporation chose Page as its president in 1947. Debevoise became counsel to the high commissioner of West Germany in 1951 and served as the acting deputy high commissioner in 1952 and 1953. Stevenson was the American ambassador to the Philippines and later became the president of Oberlin College. In the 1960s Presidents Kennedy and Johnson appointed Plimpton as ambassador to the United Nations. In 1956 the law firm represented The Ford Foundation when it completed its first public offering of stock of the Ford Motor Company. According to George Lindsay, in the firm’s history, ‘That was the largest financing that had ever been held up to that time and was replete with new inventions in the law,’ and thus involved complex negotiations among the company, foundation, and Ford family members.
In 1959 Debevoise & Plimpton became general counsel for the First National City Trust Company that administered the pension fund of the affiliated First National City Bank, later renamed Citibank. In 1961 the law firm moved its offices to a new building at 320 Park Avenue constructed for the bank and trust company. After the trust company merged with and became a department of the bank, the law firm continued as its general counsel. Meanwhile, Debevoise & Plimpton represented the Rockefeller family in various matters, including the transition of Rockefeller Institute into Rockefeller University and the family’s real estate dealings through the Rockefeller Holding Company.
Growth of the Firm in the 1970s and 1980s
In 1980 the firm accepted a request by Chrysler to serve as its lead counsel in its struggle to survive financially. Following the Arab oil embargo of 1973, many Americans chose small foreign cars that used much less gas than did American cars. Thus, Chrysler lost market share, acquired a large inventory of unsold cars, and received over 400 loans from American, Canadian, Japanese, and European banks and other entities by the end of the decade.
In 1979 Congress had passed a law guaranteeing loans to Chrysler, but the automaker had to adhere to strict requirements for the law to be implemented. Debevoise partners, with the help of more than one-fourth of all its associates, helped Chrysler understand the complex federal law and then restructure its old loans and gain new ones. Although its operations were disrupted by a major fire in Debevoise’s New York office, the firm finally helped Chrysler avoid bankruptcy and eventually recover in what James B. Stewart described in 1983 as ‘the largest corporate rescue mission ever attempted.’ The firm continued to do work for Chrysler on other matters in the years to come.
In 1982 Debevoise & Plimpton joined the growing number of law firms with offices in Washington, D.C. The number of lawyers in the nation’s capital increased from 11,000 in 1972 to 45,000 in 1987.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Debevoise & Plimpton grew rapidly. From its origins with 2 lawyers in 1931, it had grown to employ 102 in 1970. By 1980 it employed 147 lawyers, and then in the 1980s it grew even faster, reaching a total of 368 lawyers at the end of 1990. Important corporate clients at the time included Prudential, Aetna, John Hancock, Equitable Mutual Life, Mass Mutual, American Airlines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, St. John Minerals, Continental Corporation, Cooper Laboratories, Wheelabrator Frye, and Kelso and Company. The firm also represented the Ford, Russell Sage, and Hartford Foundations and Columbia and Princeton Universities.
Debevoise & Plimpton’s growth was part of a general trend that transformed many law firms. In the late 1970s two major developments spurred the changes. First, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that professional restrictions on advertising violated the First Amendment’s free speech provision. That led to more lawyers and other professionals openly soliciting clients. Second, legal journalism changed dramatically with the publication of two new periodicals, The National Journal and The American Lawyer, both of which covered the internal management practices and finances of law firms. With such data available, and attorneys becoming more aware of salaries and opportunities elsewhere, lateral hiring increased significantly in the 1980s as large law firms added literally hundreds of lawyers to their ranks. Intense competition for top talent, more formal management methods, the use of public relations experts, and the use of management consultants were also part of the transformation of America’s large law firms.
Practice in the 1990s and Beyond
In 1992 Debevoise & Plimpton represented Infinity Broadcasting Corporation when it became a public corporation. In 1996 the law firm helped the broadcasting corporation acquire TDI Worldwide, Grannam Holdings, and Alliance Broadcasting, then assisted Infinity when it was in turn acquired by Westinghouse Electric Corporation.
The law firm began to take on more work representative of the Information Age. Starting in 1994, it helped the Internet service provider CompuServe deal with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s rules concerning online intellectual property rights. Around 2000, the firm was involved in other major developments related to digital technology and the Internet. It represented The New York Times, Time Inc., and Newsday in Tasini v. New York Times, an important case that dealt with publishers’ rights to disseminate their work online. Its media and technology practice also served clients such as the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, Dow Jones, Reuters, The Washington Post, Times Mirror, CNN, and USA Today that were concerned about the proper role of the Internet.
Like several other law firms, Debevoise & Plimpton cut the number of attorneys that it employed during the economic downturn of the early 1990s, decreasing from 397 attorneys in 1992 to 376 in 1993, when 307 worked in New York and the rest in branch offices in Washington, D.C., Paris, Los Angeles, London, and Budapest. According to Of Counsel of May 3-17, 1993, Debevoise & Plimpton assisted the Mexican telephone company Telmex and Bancomer, a large Mexican bank, when they were transformed from government to private businesses. The firm also participated in developing the oil and natural gas resources of Russia’s Sakhalin Island and in the privatization of the Prague Ruzyne International Airport. Later the firm closed its offices in Los Angeles and Budapest and opened its Moscow office.
In a 1996 survey by the Volunteers of Legal Service, Debevoise & Plimpton was one of the top New York law firms for pro bono work; it was one of only four New York firms that averaged 91 to 110 hours per lawyer and had increased its pro bono totals from 16,085 hours in 1995 to 30,714 hours in 1996. Debevoise & Plimpton’s pro bono activities ranged from international human rights and poverty law cases to prisoners’ rights, civil rights, and various environmental, educational, arts, and other nonprofit concerns.
The firm’s Washington, D.C., office, with about 30 lawyers in the late 1990s, operated differently from other firms. From that office’s 1982 beginning, ‘We had an odd-duck philosophy,’ said partner Ralph Ferrara in Of Counsel on October 18, 1999, explaining that the firm did not do legislative work for its corporate clients. He also said, ‘Washington lawyers do trade regulatory work. … We do [Securities and Exchange Commission] stuff, but it’s not regulatory, it’s disclosure.’ The Debevoise office represented financial, telecommunications, and other business clients in arranging mergers and dealing with complex litigation. For example, in the 1990s it helped insurance companies like New York Life and John Hancock deal with unprecedented class actions filed by policyholders.
In 1999 Debevoise & Plimpton provided counsel in over 135 mergers and acquisitions worth more than $435 billion. Merger and acquisitions clients included 1) the Jim Henson Company (Jim Henson was the creator of the Muppets) when it was purchased by EM.TV & Merchandising AG, 2) Lawrence Dolan in his purchase of The Cleveland Indians, 3) and Chrysler in its $38 billion merger with Germany’s Daimler-Benz. Fashion house Prada, LG Electronics, GlobeNet Communications, and AXA Financial, Inc. also used the Debevoise firm during 1999.
The firm’s litigators in 1999 won victories for Gap Inc. in a copyright/trademark case, General Electric in both British and American courts, and Showa Aluminum Corporation in a patent trial. It also represented American Home Products Corporation, American Express, Citibank, MetLife, the Council for Tobacco Research, and American Lawyer Media in litigation cases.
According to The American Lawyer, Debevoise & Plimpton was ranked as the nation’s 37th-largest law firm in 1999, based on its annual gross revenues of $269 million. Its revenue per lawyer was $670,000, which placed it at number 13 nationally, and its profits per partner of $1.225 million ranked the firm as number eleven in the United States. With an 80 percent increase in its profits per partner since 1990, the firm was considered one of the ‘Winners of the Nineties.’ Debevoise & Plimpton also was the nation’s 18th most prestigious law firm, according to a survey of 4,800 lawyers published in 2000 in the third edition of the Vault.com Guide to the Top 50 Law Firms. These statistics and surveys indicated that Debevoise & Plimpton was well prepared to confront the numerous legal challenges of the new millennium. However, the firm needed room to expand, so it planned to move its New York headquarters in summer 2001 to newly built offices at 919 Third Avenue.
Now aren’t you glad you know that? Probably not but it needs to be understood that there is no conspiracy theory here, just facts and you decide. Next up, the parent of Debevoise & Plimpton; Davis, Polk & Wardwell who should be paying my server’s fee considering how much time they have spent here.
Davis Polk & Wardwell
Davis Polk & Wardwell is one of the largest U.S. law firms, ranked by its annual gross revenues. It represents some of the world’s largest corporations, including J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, the modern companies founded by J. Pierpont Morgan, who first became a Davis Polk client in the late 1800s. The law firm’s other clients are found all over the world, including EMI Group in the United Kingdom, Telefonica in Spain, and Korea Electric Power. It consistently ranks as one of the top law firms involved in corporate and financial transactions, with expertise in securities, banking, taxation, antitrust, government regulation, and most areas of modern business law. Its litigation practice includes defending RJR Nabisco in much publicized lawsuits filed by smokers. In addition to its New York City headquarters, the firm maintains offices in Menlo Park, California, to serve Silicon Valley clients; offices in Washington, D.C., to help clients deal with government laws and regulations; and five overseas offices (London, Paris, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, and Tokyo) in response to the increasingly globalized economy. The firm’s legacy includes participation in major American court cases, probably the most famous being the 1954 case of Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. That was also the last of 140 U.S. Supreme Court cases argued by John W. Davis, the most of any 20th-century lawyer at that time.
Origins and Expansion in the Early 20th Century
Davis Polk & Wardwell’s roots began in 1849 when Francis N. Bangs started a law practice in the days when relatively few businesses incorporated. Francis L. Stetson graduated from Columbia, fought against the corruption of New York City’s Democratic Party Boss Tweed, and then served New York City as its assistant corporation counsel before he joined Bangs as a partner in 1880.
Stetson brought the young partnership some of its most important early clients, most notably J.P. Morgan & Company, named for J. Pierpont Morgan, the famous banker and big businessman. In 1895, for example, Stetson went with Morgan to the White House to buy $65 million worth of bonds to help the federal government survive the depression that had started in 1893. In 1901 he helped Morgan create the United States Steel Corporation, the nation’s first billion-dollar corporation, which survived in the late 20th century as USX. Stetson in 1901 also served Morgan when he set up the Northern Securities Company, a railroad trust that later was split up because it violated the 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act. Stetson helped J.P. Morgan & Company on various mergers.
In addition, Stetson after 1900 reorganized the United States Rubber Company and helped establish the International Harvester Company. Thus ‘Stetson became one of the most prominent corporation lawyers in the nation,’ reported author William H. Harbaugh. ‘He pioneered in transforming the corporate mortgage from a simple real estate lien into a complex agreement running to as many as 200 pages, and he eventually became the country’s foremost specialist in corporate reorganization.’
Although Stetson had partners and associates at his firm, called Stetson, Jennings & Russell, he was not interested in expanding his partnership. The firm from 1896 to the start of World War I in 1914 had no more than seven partners. Its average annual income between 1911 and 1914 was just $287,197.
Younger attorneys became frustrated since they did the bulk of the routine legal work without receiving adequate compensation. The time was ripe for a major change, which happened in 1919, after Stetson had become senile and Jennings and Russell partially retired. The younger generation created the first ‘true partnership,’ according to Harbaugh, under such leaders as Allen Wardwell, who had joined the firm as a clerk after graduating from Harvard Law School in 1898.
Acting as the de facto head of the law firm, Wardwell recruited two key men in 1920. First he negotiated with Frank Polk, who in turn wrote to his friend John W. Davis about the advantages of joining the New York law firm. Davis was in the process of leaving public service as the U.S. ambassador to Great Britain. Polk told Davis that the Stetson law firm represented Morgan and was general counsel to New York’s Guaranty Trust Company. It also represented the Associated Press, the International Paper Company, the Erie Railroad, and various others in trial and estates work. Admiralty and patent law were the only two areas it ignored.
John W. Davis, the law firm’s most prominent attorney for several decades, was born in 1873 in West Virginia. When he became the head of the firm in 1921, it was renamed Davis Polk Wardwell Gardiner & Reed, the last two name partners being George H. Gardiner and Lansing P. Reed. According to the 1932 Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, the partnership at 15 Broad Street in New York City had 17 partners and one ‘of counsel’ member. It consistently received an ‘av’ rating, the highest available from the directory.
During the Great Depression, John Davis represented name partner Louis Levy of the New York City law firm of Chadbourne, Stanchfield & Levy, later named Chadbourne & Parke. In spite of Davis’s vigorous defense, Levy was disbarred after helping get Judge Martin Manton a $250,000 loan, which was never repaid, from American Tobacco’s ad agency at the same time American Tobacco faced a lawsuit before Judge Manton.
In a 1939 article, Ferdinand Lundberg described Davis Polk as one of the nation’s top ‘law factories,’ meaning it was ‘organized on factory principles and [grinded] out standardized legal advice, documents, and services …’ Lundberg mentioned how the nation’s top corporations tended to rely on the major law firms, thus concentrating wealth in just a few institutions. With 20 partners in 1939, Davis Polk Wardwell Gardiner & Reed for years had represented J.P. Morgan & Company and the Guaranty Trust Company. The law firm’s attorneys also served as 22 corporate directors.
Post-World War II Law Practice
After being delayed by World War II, the federal government finally brought a major antitrust lawsuit against the nation’s major investment banks, including Morgan Stanley and Harriman Ripley, who were represented by Davis Polk. The government accused the banks of price fixing, stifling competition from smaller investment banks, and several related charges. Whereas most banks and their lawyers wanted to settle the case, the New York law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell took the lead in fighting the government. The trial ran from 1950 to 1953, when the judge accepted the defense motion to dismiss United States of America v. Henry S. Morgan, Harold Stanley, et al. doing business as Morgan Stanley & Co., et al., described by authors Nancy Lisagor and Frank Lipsius as ‘the granddaddy of modern antitrust cases.’
During the Korean War, President Harry Truman in April 1952 announced that he had seized control of the nation’s steel industry to prevent a threatened work slowdown or complete shutdown because of an industry-union dispute. John Davis represented Republic Steel in the steel industry’s fight to reverse the seizure. After many calls for President Truman’s impeachment, the U.S. Supreme Court in 1952 heard arguments from Davis and others before ruling in a 6–3 decision that Truman had no constitutional or congressional authority to take control of the steel industry.
Although John Davis won in the steel case, he lost just two years later in one of the nation’s most famous court rulings, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. Davis represented South Carolina in Briggs v. Elliott, which along with others was lumped together with the Brown case. Davis and other attorneys argued that the 1896 Plessey v. Ferguson ruling in favor of separate but equal schools should be upheld. Led by attorneys such as Thurgood Marshall, the NAACP won this court battle that led to school desegregation and was a major development in the postwar civil rights movement.
That was the last time John Davis argued a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Starting in 1913, Davis made oral arguments before the nation’s highest tribunal in 140 cases, the most of any 20th-century lawyer. Only two 19th-century lawyers exceeded that number: Walter Jones with 317 cases and Daniel Webster with at least 185 cases. Davis’s distinguished career brought him many honors before he died in 1955, including the United Kingdom’s highest award for a non-British citizen.
In 1954 the law firm included 26 members or partners, according to the Martindale-Hubbell Directory. It then was called Davis Polk Wardwell Sunderland & Kiendl. The last two name partners were Edwin Sunderland and Theodore Kiendl.
Four years later the firm had 30 partners and 67 associates when Spencer Klaw published his Fortune article on the large Wall Street law firms. Klaw mentioned that Davis Polk, ‘sometimes known as the Tiffany of law firms,’ was one of the so-called ‘white-shoe’ law firms where its lawyers wore ‘buckskin shoes that used to be part of the accepted uniform at certain eastern prep schools and colleges.’ Part of that law firm tradition involved hiring mostly prominent young associates listed in the Social Register.
By 1964 the law firm of 37 partners had added a Paris office and moved to its new headquarters at One Chase Manhattan Plaza in New York City. The firm, renamed Davis Polk & Wardwell, had overseas branches in both Paris and London in 1974 and included 43 partners and nine ‘of counsel’ lawyers.
In the 1970s some of Davis Polk’s major clients included Morgan Stanley & Company, Morgan Guaranty Trust Company, International Telephone & Telegraph, International Paper, Johns-Manville, LTV Corporation, R.J. Reynolds, and McDermott, Inc.
During the Carter Administration, the United States suffered from its seeming inability to resolve the Iranian hostage crisis after Moslem fundamentalists captured Americans in Tehran. Carter froze Iranian assets in American banks, while millions in U.S. money was loaned to various Iranian institutions. The crisis finally was resolved in early 1981 when a group of lawyers from New York law firms representing the nation’s largest banks negotiated with attorneys representing Iranian interests. Davis Polk & Wardwell, on behalf of its historic client Morgan Guaranty, thus helped end one of the nation’s more humiliating episodes during the Cold War. Unfortunately, few history books mentioned such behind-the-scenes roles of law firms.
Practice in the Late 20th Century
Starting in the late 1970s and early 1980s the nation’s largest law firms began a major transformation. Part of the change came from a 1977 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said restrictions on professional advertising violated the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech. At about the same time two new periodicals, the National Law Journal and the American Lawyer, began publishing articles on law firm management and finances. From that point on, law firms began to be more open about their operations, ending much of the secrecy of the past. In addition, lawyers gained competitive data about law firm profits, thus fueling more lateral hiring of experienced lawyers. The bottom line was that most big law firms became much larger in the 1980s, a time of rapid expansion in the American economy. They became more business-oriented as well, adding public relations personnel and hiring consultants for advice on better management practices.
As attorney salaries increased rapidly, law firms competed not only with each other for the top talents but also with corporations, including some of their clients. That happened relatively rarely in the 1980s, but by the mid-1990s more senior partners left for top corporate positions. Ellen Joan Pollock, in the September 11, 1996 Wall Street Journal, wrote, ‘What makes this recent spate of legal defectors noteworthy is the sheer number making the switch, and that they are moving into top corporate posts.’
A good example was Steven Goldstone, a senior partner at Davis Polk & Wardwell. In 1994 he earned about $1 million at the law firm. He had represented RJR Nabisco for several years, including a 1994 tobacco lawsuit. As the company’s outside general counsel, Goldstone said he spent more than half his time on business strategy, not legal issues per se. Then in late 1995 Goldstone accepted an offer to become the CEO of RJR Nabisco Holdings Inc.
In the so-called New Economy, high-technology firms required all kinds of legal support, so the nation’s largest law firms opened new offices to meet the demands of their clients. For example, in 1999 Davis Polk & Wardwell, along with two other New York firms, Shearman & Sterling and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, started branch offices in Silicon Valley. Davis Polk’s high-tech clients included ComCast, Compaq Computer, and Texas Instruments.
In March 2000 Davis Polk & Wardwell represented its long-term client Morgan Stanley & Company Incorporated and other underwriters of Crayfish Company, Ltd. in its initial public offering (IPO). Crayfish was a ‘Japanese e-mail hosting services provider,’ according to the Davis Polk web site.
Although Davis Polk & Wardwell continued to serve both Morgan Stanley and J.P. Morgan, the two firms formerly united as the House of Morgan, their relationships had changed. For decades Wall Street law firms had very close institutional ties to investment banks. ‘When I started 30 years ago, [these relationships] were virtually monogamous,’ said Francis J. Morison, Davis Polk’s managing partner in the Investment Dealers’ Digest of November 3, 1997. But as laws became more complex and law firms specialized, such long-term ties dwindled as clients turned to the firms that possessed the expertise they needed for specific situations.
In the 1990s Davis Polk & Wardwell advised clients in more than 700 mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures valued at more than $1 trillion. Some of its corporate clients in 2000 were Banco Santander Central Hispano; Comcast Corporation; Network Solutions, Inc.; ImClone Systems Incorporated; Quintus Corporation; Bass PLC; Mission Critical Software Inc.; Emerson Electric Company; Salomon Smith Barney; Merrill Lynch International; Warburg Dillon Read; Credit Suisse First Boston; Canadian National Railway; and Pharmacia & Upjohn.
Davis Polk & Wardwell continued to be one of the major law firms in the late 1990s. The American Lawyer in July/August 1998 ranked Davis Polk as the United States’ sixth largest law firm, based on its 1997 gross revenue of $390 million. At that point it had 447 lawyers.
In November 1998 the same magazine, in cooperation with London’s Legal Business, published its first ranking of the world’s largest law firms. Davis Polk ranked number eight based on its 1997 gross revenue, but it did not rank in the top 50 based on the number of lawyers. Its revenue per lawyer of $870,000 was the third highest in the world.
Based on its 1998 gross revenues of $435 million, Davis Polk & Wardwell ranked number five in the United States, according to the American Lawyer in July 1999. In 1999 the firm slipped to number eight based on its gross revenues of $460 million. Its profits per partner in 1999 were $1.61 million, a 63 percent increase since 1990 that made Davis Polk one of the ten most successful American law firms in the 1990s.
At the dawn of the new millennium, Davis Polk & Wardwell faced numerous challenges. Law firms were getting larger and larger, whether from mergers or internal recruiting, thus making management issues more crucial. Law firms faced competition from accounting firms that hired many lawyers, raising the possibility of the American bar allowing multidisciplinary practices involving lawyers, accountants, and other professionals. Rapid technological change, involving such issues as intellectual property conflicts and computer security for Internet transactions, also gave Davis Polk & Wardwell and other large law firms plenty to deal with in the Information Age.
Principal Operating Units: Corporate; Tax; Litigation; Trusts Real Estate.
Principal Competitors: Baker & McKenzie; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; Debevoise & Plimpton.
That is not all of the lawyers, and for those of you interested, AIG is in the mix also.
(Author’s update: 3/31/09: Everyone please welcome back to the Monster; Debevoise & Plimpton and Shearman & Sterling…) (Also welcome Simpson Thacher & Bartlett who JUST joined us…think they are texting each other or calling?) (15 minutes have gone by and now it is time to welcome Baker & McKenzie; everybody wave.) (5 minutes have gone by; everybody wave to Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Now I understand why these people started landing on my site 3 months ago.) (10 minutes later; please welcome the London Office of Debevoise & Plimpton.) (5 minutes later…please welcome Columbia University.) (The second Columbia U ip has shown up, and would any of my readers like to start digging on Stetson University College in Clearwater, Florida to find the link. They came in directly.) (Everyone please welcome The Monitor Group.) (Wow – it took Davis Polk & Wardwell almost two hours to show up – we know who the granddaddy is…)(Please welcome the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.)
(Author’s Update Below)
Well, well, well. When Davis, Polk & Wardwell are sitting on your site day in and day out; you just gotta wonder why? I am a patient monster; really, I am, and I think that maybe this proves the point about bloggers being followed because we actually do have our fingers on the pulse of America.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The person Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner wanted as his chief deputy has withdrawn from consideration, dealing a setback to the understaffed agency as it struggles to address the worst financial crisis in decades.
Annette Nazareth, a former senior staffer and commissioner with the Securities and Exchange Commission, made “a personal decision” to withdraw from the process, according to a person familiar with her decision.
Nazareth, 53, a partner at the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell, could not be reached for comment.
So as of this morning, Annette Nazareth and Dr. Gupta have declined the invitation to serve at the pleasure of the president and Timmie is flying solo at Treasury, and we all know that having the Treasury run by one Turbo Tax dodging corruptocrat is probably counter-productive.
Geithner has been criticized for staffing his department too slowly as it grapples with a banking crisis that has crippled the economy. Uncertainty about Treasury staff also has unnerved financial markets.
Five weeks into his tenure, he has yet to name a single top deputy or assistant secretary. This has left Treasury with too few people authorized to make decisions or represent the department in meetings with stakeholders.
After initially declining to comment, Treasury spokesman Isaac Baker emailed a statement saying 50 political appointees at the department already are hard at work.
“Any rumors of vetting problems or delays in the process are simply not true,” Baker’s statement read.
The department has been meeting with members of the financial services industry as it oversees the government’s $700 billion financial bailout and other parts of President Barack Obama’s financial stabilization plan.
But at a Senate hearing Thursday about failed insurance giant American International Group Inc. — which has received four separate bailouts totaling more than $170 billion — Sen. Chris Dodd said he had asked Treasury for someone to appear, but that no one was available.
“I am not pleased that we don’t have someone here from Treasury to explain what their role in this is,” Dodd said.
Geithner’s choice for undersecretary of international affairs, Caroline Atkinson, also withdrew from consideration, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
Nazareth’s withdrawal may signal what we all knew from the beginning; that the center (Bambi) IS actually smoke and mirrors, and of course, cannot hold. It is like watching rats jumping off a burning ship. I personally love the idea that this “money person” is not going to be anywhere near our government financial system considering she is part of the problem.
Nazareth joined the SEC in 1998 as senior counsel to then-Chairman Arthur Levitt, later directing the Division of Market Regulation. She is credited with creating numerous key policy changes.
She created the voluntary program intended to supervise large investment banks including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and the now-defunct Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch. The program was canceled in September as the financial crisis erupted and the remaining investment banks converted themselves into bank holding companies.
Some on Capitol Hill had expressed concern that Nazareth was too closely associated with the weak federal oversight that contributed to the banking collapse. Among her responsibilities at Treasury would have been overseeing the creation of a new regulatory system for large financial institutions.
Geithner told a Senate panel Wednesday that he hoped “to come up for the committee soon with a full slate of very strong people.”
“We’re doing this carefully, as you would expect, and … trying to make sure we have the best talent in the country,” he said.
Geithner’s lack of a senior staff has raised concerns on Wall Street.
“This doesn’t help confidence,” said David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor’s in New York. “Geithner is stuck there all by himself trying to do everything. They don’t have anybody confirmed, and Treasury is a big shop to try to run with one person, especially right now.”
And it appears the rest of the country is catching up to us when we knew that these corruptocrats were not qualified to run the biggest economy in the world. I’m still for drafting Steve Wynn for president until the economy turns around. I am sure that a company that has the foresight to have $1.1 BILLION in cash on hand at a time like this, and is cutting spending and reducing salaries instead of laying people off might actually know how to turn this economy around; Timothy? Not So Much. (Back to Bambi’s Buddy)
David Jones, head of Denver-based economic consulting firm DMJ Advisors, said that Geithner’s missteps in putting together a financial rescue program and his inability to assemble a team at Treasury were raising concerns about whether the new administration’s economic team is up to the challenges confronting them.
“There is no question that Wall Street is losing patience,” said Jones, who for more than three decades served as a top economist at a major bond trading firm. “If there was ever a time when we need an effective and strong Treasury secretary, it is now.”
Jones said that investors had initially viewed the economic team that Obama was assembling favorably because it included experienced hands such as Summers and Volcker.
“There were high expectations for this team, but at this time of crisis, it doesn’t seem to be functioning effectively,” Jones said.
BBWWWWAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ya Think?
I personally am calling for the President and Treasury Secretary to step down and let the grown-ups who have actually done the homework, read their history, and are not trying to turn this country socialist, work their magic on the economy.
A message for Rahm, Hillary and the rest of the Alinsky “never waste a good crisis” crew; we know what you are doing and we are not going to let it happen. Keep pushing, and we will push back.
Davis, Polk & Wardwell:
As much time as you are spending here, you might want to join in the conversation and enlighten the unwashed masses, yes?