White-shoe Firm
Get White-shoe Firm essential facts below. View Videos or join the White-shoe Firm discussion. Add White-shoe Firm to your PopFlock.com topic list for future reference or share this resource on social media.
White-shoe Firm

A white-shoe firm is a leading professional services firm in the United States, particularly firms that have been in existence for more than a century and represent Fortune 500 companies. It typically--but not always--refers to banking, law, and management consulting firms, especially those based in northeastern U. S states.

John Oller, author of White Shoe, credits Paul Drennan Cravath with creating the distinct model adopted by virtually all white-shoe firms, the Cravath System, about 50 years before the term came into use.[1]

The phrase "white shoe" has a distinctly different meaning and history in Australia.

Etymology of US phrase

The phrase derives from "white bucks", laced suede or buckskin shoes with a red sole, long popular in the Ivy League colleges.[2] A 1953 Esquire article, describing social strata at Yale University, explained that "White Shoe applies primarily to the socially ambitious and the socially smug types who affect a good deal of worldly sophistication, run, ride and drink in rather small cliques, and look in on the second halves of football games when the weather is good."[3] The Oxford English Dictionary cites the phrase "white-shoe college boys" in the J. D. Salinger novel Franny and Zooey (1957) as the first use of the term.[4]

Usage in the United States

The term originated in the Ivy League colleges and originally reflected a stereotype of old-line firms populated by WASPs. The term historically had antisemitic connotations, as many of the New York firms known as "white shoe" were considered off-limits to Jewish lawyers until the 1960s.[4][5] The phrase has since lost some of this connotation, but is still defined by Princeton University's WordNet as "denoting a company or law firm owned and run by members of the WASP elite who are generally conservative," which shows that the original connotation has not changed entirely.[6] A 2010 column in The Economist described the term as synonymous with "big, old, east-coast and fairly traditional."[7] In the 21st century, the term is sometimes used in a general sense to refer to firms that are perceived as prestigious or high-quality; it is also sometimes used in a derogatory manner to denote stodginess, elitism, or a lack of diversity.[4]

Usage in Australia

A similar term in Australia, "white shoe brigade", has been used in the past to describe a group of Queensland property developers who backed, and benefitted from, former Queensland State Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen.[8] The term is a contemptuous allusion to the lower social class antecedents of such men, revealed by their gaudy and tasteless choice of clothing, which included brightly coloured or patterned shirts, slacks with white stripes or in pastel shades, and shoes and belts of white leather, these often having gold or gilt buckles. They became known for shady deals with the government concerning property development, often with dire consequences for heritage buildings.[9]


The following US firms are often referred to as being white-shoe firms:

Banks, investment banks, and merchant banks

Accounting firms

Management Consulting firms

Law firms

The "new" white-shoe banks

While the term "white-shoe" historically applied only to those law firms populated by WASPs, usage of the term has since been expanded to other top-rated prestigious firms. Many of these firms were founded as a direct result of the exclusionary tendencies of the original white-shoe firms, which provided limited opportunities for Jewish and Catholic lawyers, as well as other non-WASPs, and include:

The "new" white-shoe law firms

See also

  • History of the American legal profession#White Shoe firms
  • Big Three law firms, an informal term for leading law firms in New Zealand.
  • Big Four law firms, an informal term for leading law firms in Japan.
  • Big Five law firms, an informal term for leading law firms in South Africa.
  • Big Six law firms, an informal term for leading law firms in Australia. In 2012, three of these firms merged with overseas firms, and one other began operating in association with an overseas firm. As a consequence, it has proposed that the term is no longer applicable to the Australian legal profession, displaced by the concept of Global Elite law firms or International Business law firms.[75]
  • Magic Circle, an informal term for the London headquartered law firms with the largest revenues, the most international work and which consistently outperform the rest of the London market on profitability.
  • Offshore magic circle, an informal term for leading law firms in offshore financial centers.
  • Red Circle law firms, an informal term for leading law firms in the People's Republic of China coined by The Lawyer magazine in 2014.[76] For further information, also see the list of the largest Chinese law firms.
  • Seven Sisters law firms, a collection of seven leading Canadian law firms with offices in Toronto.
  • Silver Circle is an informal term for perceived elite corporate law firms headquartered in the United Kingdom that are the main competitors for the magic circle. These firms have a lower turnover than the members of the Magic Circle, but consistently have an average profits per equity partner (PEP) and average revenue per lawyer (RPL) far above the UK average [77][78][79] (and, in some instances, higher than members of the magic circle). Contrary to what the term Silver Circle may suggest, there is no Golden Circle.[80]


  1. ^ Levinson, Marc (20 March 2019). "'White Shoe' Review: Lawyering Up the 20th Century (book review)". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2019.ISBN 9781524743253
  2. ^ Safire, William (November 9, 1997). "On Language; Gimme the Ol' White Shoe". New York Times.
  3. ^ Chensvold, Christian. "Russell Lynes On The Shoe Hierarchy, Esquire 1953". Ivy Style. Retrieved 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Chambliss, Elizabeth (2005). "THE SHOE STILL FITS". Legal Affairs. Retrieved 2016.
  5. ^ Seltzer, Irwin M. (February 8, 2016). "Remembering the 'White-Shoe Firm'". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2016.
  6. ^ "white-shoe". WordNet. Princeton University.
  7. ^ "Frozen-term watch: "white-shoe"". The Economist. September 3, 2010. Retrieved 2016.
  8. ^ Dempster, Quentin (April 23, 2005). "Sir Johannes Bjelke-Petersen: Corrupt populist". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on July 25, 2008.
  9. ^ Gard, Stephen (1994). Fantastic Australians. Kangaroo Press. ISBN 0-86417-588-4.
  10. ^ Surowiecki, James (1998-06-15). "White-Shoe Shuffle". New York. New York Media LLC. Retrieved .
  11. ^ Timmons, Heather; Christopher Palmieri (2002-01-21). "The Perils of J.P. Morgan". Bloomberg Businessweek. McGraw-Hill Education. Retrieved .
  12. ^ "Morgan Stanley's 'white-shoe' dissidents continue war of attrition". Finfacts Ireland. April 17, 2005.
  13. ^ "White Shoe Firms". White Shoe Firms. Retrieved .
  14. ^ "2017 Power 100 Law Firm Rankings". Above the Law. Retrieved .
  15. ^ Stracher, Cameron (March 24, 2000). "The Law Firm's New Clothes". New York Times.
  16. ^ Lin, Anthony (February 6, 2007). "Does the Future Belong to Cadwalader?". New York Law Journal.
  17. ^ Rost, Peter (September 12, 2007). "Covington & Burling, a Pfizer law firm, caught cleaning up its reputation on Wikipedia". BrandweekNRX.
  18. ^ Martinez, Jose (March 3, 2006). "Shoes are whiter than most in city". NY Daily News. New York.
  19. ^ Moyer, Elizabeth (October 26, 2005). "Dimon Woos Mergers Lawyer Hersch To JPMorgan". Forbes.com.
  20. ^ Labaton, Stephen (September 24, 1989). "Rainmaker: Mario Baeza of Debevoise". The New York Times.
  21. ^ Herman, Eric (July 1, 2002). "Scandal Draws Top Lawyers". New York Daily News.
  22. ^ McMorrow, Paul (March 25, 2014). "Seaport Moving in Direction of Back Bay". Boston Globe.
  23. ^ McMorrow, Paul (December 25, 2012). "Seaport is Rising, but Not From Tech". Boston Globe.
  24. ^ Dougherty, Carter. "The Israeli Connection". VirtualCXO.
  25. ^ Hobbs, Meredith (7 April 2008). "Daily Report Dozen: King & Spalding". Retrieved 2017.
  26. ^ Dolor, Sol. "King & Spalding takes Clifford Chance PE head". Australasian Lawyer. Retrieved .
  27. ^ Scheiber, Noam (21 July 2013). "The Last Days of Big Law". Retrieved 2016.
  28. ^ Standard, Pacific (19 May 2015). "Are You Getting Paid What You're Worth?". Retrieved 2016.
  29. ^ McKay, Peter A.; Mollenkamp, Carrick (10 April 2006). "Refco Suits Spotlight White-Shoe Law Firm's Role". Retrieved 2016 – via Wall Street Journal.
  30. ^ Weiss, Gary (March 4, 2002). "Commentary: Et Tu, Enron Lawyers?". Businessweek.
  31. ^ "The Elite Face-Off: NY vs. London - Adam Smith, Esq". Retrieved 2016.
  32. ^ "Cuomo Picks Maria Vullo as State's Top Financial Watchdog". The New York Times. 22 January 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  33. ^ Qualters, Sheri (August 29, 2007). "Humor Helps the Firm Go Video". The National Law Journal.
  34. ^ "White & Case hires a partner and a counsel from Shearman in Frankfurt | IFLR1000". www.iflr1000.com. Retrieved .
  35. ^ Nelson, Katie (November 2, 2009). "NY Daily News". New York.
  36. ^ "Chicago Tribune". November 11, 2009.
  37. ^ John Oller (2019). White Shoe: How a New Breed of Wall Street Lawyers Changed Big Business and the American Century. p. 565.
  38. ^ Schneider-Mayerson, Anna (February 18, 2007). "Associate Gets Crushed Beneath White Shoe". New York Observer.
  39. ^ "History of White & Case LLP - FundingUniverse". Retrieved 2016.
  40. ^ Morgan, Spencer (April 7, 2009). "Andy Spade Is a Giant in New York". New York Observer.
  41. ^ van der Pool, Lisa (July 1, 2011). "Bill Lee: Still making his case". Boston Business Journal.
  42. ^ Hawkins, Asher (June 28, 2010). "SEC's Revolving Door Often Spins More Than Once". Forbes.
  43. ^ Sorkin, Andrew Ross (December 11, 2005). "They're All Paying Customers to Wall Street". The New York Times.
  44. ^ http://lawyer-wiki.blogspot.com/2018/08/white-shoe-firm_8.html. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  45. ^ "Federal Judge Recuses Herself From A Second Fusion GPS Case". The Daily Caller. Retrieved .
  46. ^ Gendar, Alison (September 14, 2009). "Straight-shooter judge could break up Junior Gotti's perfect game". NY Daily News. New York.
  47. ^ Rubinstein, Dana (July 24, 2008). "It's Complicated: Insurance Firm Spills Space Gobbled by Former UBS President, Cleary Gottlieb". New York Observer.
  48. ^ Gray, Geoffrey (December 15, 2003). "Charity Busters". City Limits.
  49. ^ Itkoff, Valerie (June 21, 1991). "Greenberg's New Stripes". Miami Review.
  50. ^ Karni, Annie (August 5, 2012). "Katz in Political Cradle". New York Post.
  51. ^ "Focus: Greenberg Traurig Maher". The Lawyer. June 21, 2009.
  52. ^ "Greenberg Traurig, LLP History".
  53. ^ http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/09/12/50215.htm
  54. ^ . Commercial Observer http://commercialobserver.com/2014/12/silverstein-recaps-1177-avenue-of-the-americas/. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  55. ^ Selvin, Molly (May 19, 2006). "Who Wins This Case? Lawyers". LA Times.
  56. ^ Gertner, Jon (January 15, 2006). "What Is a Living Wage?". New York Times.
  57. ^ Stull, Elizabeth (May 23, 2007). "Gay Couple Sues Landlord for Discrimination". Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
  58. ^ "Business - Minding your MANNERS". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. June 9, 2002.
  59. ^ Lin, Anthony (May 16, 2006). "Can the 'Jewish Law Firm' Success Story Be Duplicated?". New York Law Journal.
  60. ^ Donohue, Pete (December 11, 2005). "MTA Pays Big Shots To Fight A Strike". NY Daily News. New York.
  61. ^ ANN W., ANN W. (September 24, 2000). "He May Have Played a Lawyer on TV, but Nanny Produced the Brief". LA Times.
  62. ^ Simpson, Jake (January 24, 2013). "Reed Smith Adds Goodwin Procter PE, M&A Partner In NY". Law 360.
  63. ^ Rosen-Molina, Mike (August 7, 2008). "Overbilling lawsuit prompts debate over ethical duties to smaller clients". Law 360.
  64. ^ Passerella, Gina (January 24, 2013). "Law Firms". Law 360.
  65. ^ "IRS punts on secret $6 billion bailout for Puerto Rico: 2011". The Daily Caller. April 4, 2011.
  66. ^ Mainland, Alexis; Goodman, J. David; Iaboni, Lisa; Vega, Tanzina; Dance, Gabriel; Han/, Rebecca (March 10, 2008). "Milestones in an Ambitious Career: 1992". New York Times.
  67. ^ "Girl Trouble". New York Magazine. October 16, 2000.
  68. ^ Buford, Talia (May 7, 2006). "Patton Boggs to pay Chevron $15M". Politico.
  69. ^ Leiby, Richard (December 2005). "The Liberal on Karl Rove's Case". Banderas News.
  70. ^ Zaitchik, Alexander (August 28, 2014). "Sludge Match: Inside Chevron's $9 Billion Legal Battle With Ecuadorean Villagers". Rolling Stone.
  71. ^ Weiss, Debra Cassens (August 19, 2009). "Wachtell Nabs Top Spot Again In Prestige Rankings". ABA Journal.
  72. ^ Belkin, Lisa (January 24, 2008). "Who's Cuddly Now? Law Firms". New York Times.
  73. ^ Sargent, Greg (September-October 2005). "The Ricochet". Mother Jones.
  74. ^ Fitzgerald, Patrick (March 13, 2009). "SunCal Lawyer Whacks Weil". Wall Street Journal.
  75. ^ Beaton Research & Consulting (2012). An obituary for the term "Big 6" law firms in Australia Archived 2012-11-07 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
  76. ^ "Elite 'red circle' firms Zhong Lun and Jun He plot merger as consolidation grips China legal market | The Lawyer | Legal News and Jobs | Advancing the business of law". www.thelawyer.com. Retrieved .
  77. ^ "Ashurst, Herbies ride out tough year; BLP, Macfarlanes, SJ Berwin succumb". The Lawyer. 14 July 2008. Retrieved 2010.
  78. ^ "Silver Circle". The Lawyer. 3 September 2007. Retrieved 2010.
  79. ^ Fletcher, Martin (28 August 2005). "'Silver circle' firms upset the legal order". London: The Times. Retrieved 2010.
  80. ^ Chambers and Partners

Further reading

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



Music Scenes