Rotations are the linchpin of the Cravath System.
We hire associates at the beginning of their legal careers, directly after law school or clerkships. Upon arrival, each associate chooses one of our five departments: Corporate, Litigation, Tax, Executive Compensation and Benefits or Trusts and Estates. Associates in the Corporate, Litigation and Tax Departments are assigned work with a partner or small group of partners for a period of time. At the end of that period, each associate switches—or “rotates”—to work with a different partner or group of partners within their department of choice. Associates continue to rotate throughout their tenure with the Firm. The rotation system enables our lawyers to develop the skills necessary to master new areas of our practice quickly and provides our associates with a broad but intense training experience they are not likely to find anywhere else. After a few years, our associates are generally capable of handling almost any matter that arises within their area of practice.
BENEFITS OF THE SYSTEM
We believe the development of our lawyers is our most important long-term objective. Regardless of the department you select, the benefits of the rotation system are the same—a partner will always directly oversee your training and development, and each assignment will add to your ability to master an entire matter.
Every aspect of the rotation system promotes collaboration. Unlike a general assignment system, the rotation system removes the need for associates to compete for work, visibility or bonuses, producing an environment that, while demanding, is also uniquely cooperative. Ask a current Cravath associate what he or she likes best about the rotation system and you will learn that being assigned to an individual partner requires you to work hard when necessary, but never for the sake of appearing busy. You will also learn that the system promotes a sense of camaraderie among the associates, with each willing to be of help to the others.
Associates participate in the rotation system throughout their entire tenure with the Firm. When the time arrives to be considered for election to the partnership, associates have experienced the full spectrum of their department’s practice and are prepared to serve almost any of our clients’ needs. Because of this, partnership decisions are not based on the Firm’s immediate needs in a particular practice area but on each associate’s own proven record of accomplishment.
The partnership itself is organized on democratic and egalitarian principles, with all partners actively participating in the affairs of the Firm. The partners meet weekly to review the Firm’s business, and all major decisions, including the election of new partners, are reached by consensus, with each partner having an equal vote. Cravath does not have a tiered partnership system; all our partners are full equity partners. With very few exceptions, the Firm’s partners were associates at the Firm who were developed into well-rounded lawyers through our rotation system.