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Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr

published July 19, 2004

Adam Silver
( 18 votes, average: 4.8 out of 5)
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1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is one of those rare addresses that can conjure meaning and reverence. Though the White House is what drives up the property values in the neighborhood, further down the street are the offices of one of the country's top corporate firms: Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr. Unlike its chief District of Columbia rival, Williams & Connolly, Wilmer is a national and international powerhouse. Only a few weeks ago, the law firm of Wilmer Cutler Pickering merged with Boston mainstay Hale and Dorr. The resulting entity, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, is now one of the world's largest firms with over 1000 attorneys spread throughout the globe.

The merger of equals joined together what were two of the country's strongest firms. Founded in 1962 with only 19 attorneys in tow, Wilmer has witnessed a meteoric rise to the top tier of the legal profession. It has a commitment to a wide-array of practices. However, the most visible groups fall under the corporate umbrella.


Wilmer has a major corporate practice. Recent M&A transactions include representation of Price Waterhouse in the merger with Coopers & Lybrand, Bestfoods, Inc. in its $60 billion merger with Unilever, and AOL in regards to its famed $125 billion merger with Time Warner. Wilmer's litigation group was recognized as one of the tops in the county by American Lawyer. Wilmer has gone to bat in the courtroom for companies such as PepsiCo, the Dallas Cowboys and the Tribune Company. Business Week singled out the firm's bankruptcy practice, which has handled numerous chapter 11 cases. Global Competition Review recently recognized partner Thomas Mueller for his excellent antitrust work. All of the groups related to corporate law are excellent, which is why juggernauts such as Disney have relied on the firm's services.

Though a huge corporate player, Wilmer is famous for pro bono work that goes above and beyond expectations. The American Bar Association gave the firm the 1998 Award for outstanding pro bono service, and the District of Columbia Bar selected Wilmer for the 2003 Law Firm Pro Bono Award. Recently, American Lawyer rated Wilmer's pro bono program the tops in the nation.

Since Wilmer is headquartered in D.C., it would make sense that it has strong political ties. Name partner Lloyd Cutler was Counsel to Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Wilmer is also one of the busiest firms in the Supreme Court. Recent victories include one of the most important cases of recent times: Gratz v. Bollinger. In representing the University of Michigan, Wilmer attorneys secured a crucial win for affirmative action.

Hale and Dorr is one of the premier firms headquartered in Boston. The firm is older than Wilmer (it was founded in 1918) and features a wide-range of practice areas, in particular, strong intellectual property and litigation departments. The firm has a number of notable cases under its belt, including representing the US Army during the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s. Together, the two firms contain every conceivable opportunity a large firm can provide. Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr has a corporate practice on par with Wall Street legends, but one that features an exciting political environment as well.

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