"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."
-- Proverbs 29:18, King James Bible (KJV)

Monday, December 07, 2020

Paul, Weiss Wins Law360 "Practice Group of the Year" Awards in Capital Markets, Fund Formation, Private Equity and Securities

My former law firm, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, ("Paul, Weiss" viz. "Paul|Weiss" viz. "Paul, Weiss, et al.") headquartered in New York City, with law offices inter alia in Beijing, Hong Kong, London, Tokyo, & Toronto, just won four Law360 Practice Group of the Year awards for the firm’s achievements in Capital Markets, Fund Formation, Private Equity and Securities.

How does the firm -- even after nearly 150 years of existence -- continue to maintain its top standards of performance in so many varied areas of law practice, not just those mentioned above?

It is enlightening here to read the Paul, Weiss "Statement of Firm Principles", authored in 1963 by the 1995 deceased firm patriarch Judge Simon H. Rifkind, who in his day was regarded by many to be the finest trial lawyer in the country, including such celebrity clients as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. As written by Eric Pace in the New York Times obituary for Simon H. Rifkind, November 15, 1995:

"[Former Justice] William O. Douglas wrote after his retirement from the United States Supreme Court that Mr. Rifkind became "the most outstanding advocate of all" the lawyers who appeared before the Court between 1939 and 1975." [emphasis added]

Before I left the firm in the mid-1970's to do essential Baltic pre-USSR-dissolution research in Europe, Judge Rifkind called me in to his office for a man-to-man talk.

Rifkind was born in 1901 in Merkinė, Lithuania (then Meretz, Russian Empire) and his family emigrated to America and New York City in 1910. Similarly, my family emigrated to the USA from Latvia and Germany when I was a young lad, in 1950. Rifkind and I thus shared some elements of a common background and destiny.

Rifkind was sympathetic to my motivation to do legal work on the Baltics, but he tried to get me to stay with the law firm. Rifkind was a powerful advocate, and his arguments were excellent, so my decision fell hard. I recall particularly Rifkind's manifest ability to focus his sharp concentration on the subject at hand.

One could sense how Paul, Weiss had risen to the status of a legal powerhouse under his forceful leadership, and why it attracted so many gifted minds. As an example, as we have written elsewhere, before the passage of the iconic "RBG" i.e. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, all three of the lady Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court had been Paul, Weiss, et al. summer associates, as this writer was as well, in 1970. The law firm would seem to have an attraction for the best of the best, and part of that "draw" is surely Rifkind's professional "principled" legacy.

The law firm's pursuit and achievement of legal excellence has of course involved many talented men and women at all levels of the law firm's attorney partnership and working staff, both before, during, and after Rifkind. That is a given.

See the impressive HISTORY of the FIRM for an instructive read.