If things are tough at the law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore, things are tough all over. Founded in 1819, Cravath is not really white shoe—too much rough-and-tumble—so much as it is black ink. Only the lean and mean machine that is Wachtell Lipton has higher per-partner profits than Cravath, which counts IBM and CBS among its loyal clientele.
When I witnessed the job-search drama as a student at Yale Law School, just about the most desirable placement was a spot at Cravath. It didn’t seem to matter that even summer associates at Cravath were expected to close Time Warner deals way past midnight. Nor did anyone seem to care that a new hire could regularly expect to have his viewing of Saturday Night Live disrupted by an emergency call from the office. Prestige whores will give it up for their choice currency, and Cravath carries that elite cachet.
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