Wall Street law firm Cravath arrives in DC with federal regulator hires


Cravath, Swaine & Moore offices in Manhattan, New York, USA REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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  • Former FDIC Chair Jelena McWilliams to Lead New Office
  • This is Cravath’s third office in its 200 year history

June 6 (Reuters) – Major law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore said on Monday it was opening an office in Washington, DC, the 200-year-old firm’s second location in the United States.

Three former government regulators will open the office of Wall Street firm Cravath, which has only two other offices worldwide, in New York and London.

Former Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation President Jelena McWilliams will be the managing partner of the new DC office. Former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Elad Roisman and former SEC Chief Enforcement Officer Jennifer Leete also joined Cravath.

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A company spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and McWilliams and Cravath Presidential Partner Faiza Saeed was not immediately available for interviews.

Saeed said in a statement that the opening of the new office will help the firm’s clients navigate “an increasingly complex and active regulatory environment.”

It is unusual for Cravath to expand its partnership by hiring from outside the company, rather than promoting from within.

In February 2021, Cravath engaged its first partner at a rival law firm in at least a decade and engaged two more partners later that year. The firm had only hired a handful of former government officials as associates over the past decade.

Cravath was one of the last major companies to adhere to a “strict” compensation policy that rewarded partners based on seniority. Late last year, Cravath said it would join other companies in adopting a so-called modified lock-in system that determines compensation based on partners’ contributions and seniority.

Other big companies have also relaxed their strict lockdown systems, a move that provides more leeway for recruitment and retention amid an industry-wide talent war.

Lawyers rarely leave Cravath for other firms. But since 2021 the company has seen at least five partners leave for rival Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Sidley Austin, Kirkland & Ellis and Davis Polk & Wardwell.

According to data from American Lawyer, Cravath exceeded $1 billion in gross revenue last year, and its partners generated average profits of $5.8 million.

Read more:

Cravath ditches strict compensation model and joins most law firm peers

Freshfields lures trader Cravath in Wall St company’s latest loss

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Reporting by Jacqueline Thomsen

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Jacqueline Thomson

Thomson Reuters

Washington, DC-based Jacqueline Thomsen covers legal news related to politics, the courts, and the legal profession. Follow her on Twitter at @jacq_thomsen and email her at [email protected]


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