White & Case
White & Case was founded in New York in 1901 and has grown into one of the world's leading global law firms. The firm has since expanded, and has practice groups in emerging markets including Latin America, Central & Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, as well as in Europe. White & Case has 38 offices in 26 countries around the world.

White & Case clients include many of the world’s most respected and well-established companies, visionary start-ups, governmental organizations and state-owned entities.


On May 1, 1901, two Wall Street
Wall Street
Wall Street refers to the financial district of New York City, named after and centered on the eight-block-long street running from Broadway to South Street on the East River in Lower Manhattan. Over time, the term has become a metonym for the financial markets of the United States as a whole, or...

 lawyers, Justin DuPratt White
Justin DuPratt White
Justin DuPratt White was an attorney best known for co-founding the White & Case law firm. In 1939 he was chairman of the Cornell University Board of Trustees.-Biography:...

, 31, and George B. Case, 28, contributed $250 each to launch White & Case.

White had only apprenticed at a law firm and never attended law school. Case had graduated from Columbia Law School
Columbia Law School
Columbia Law School, founded in 1858, is one of the oldest and most prestigious law schools in the United States. A member of the Ivy League, Columbia Law School is one of the professional graduate schools of Columbia University in New York City. It offers the J.D., LL.M., and J.S.D. degrees in...

 four years earlier. The firm benefited from the founders' relationship with J.P. Morgan & Co.
J.P. Morgan & Co.
J.P. Morgan & Co. was a commercial and investment banking institution based in the United States founded by J. Pierpont Morgan and commonly known as the House of Morgan or simply Morgan. Today, J.P...

 financier, Henry "Harry" Davison
Henry P. Davison
Henry Pomeroy Davison, Sr. was an American banker and philanthropist.-Biography:He was born on June 12, 1867 in Troy, Pennsylvania, the oldest of the four children of Henrietta and George B. Davison. Henry's mother died when he was just eight years old in 1875...


Davison hired White & Case to organize Bankers Trust Company. Davison retained White & Case to represent a series of banking ventures and provide legal services to many of the companies financed by J.P. Morgan, including U.S. Steel
U.S. Steel
The United States Steel Corporation , more commonly known as U.S. Steel, is an integrated steel producer with major production operations in the United States, Canada, and Central Europe. The company is the world's tenth largest steel producer ranked by sales...


During World War I, the British and French governments hired J.P. Morgan & Co.
J.P. Morgan & Co.
J.P. Morgan & Co. was a commercial and investment banking institution based in the United States founded by J. Pierpont Morgan and commonly known as the House of Morgan or simply Morgan. Today, J.P...

 to purchase war materials in the United States on their behalf. White & Case handled the legal work, writing contracts with nearly 1,000 US suppliers. This resulted in a high volume of legal work for the firm. In recognition of the firm's efforts, the French government made DuPratt White a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor.

Between the wars

George Case, at the behest of Harry Davison and President Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

, served on the Red Cross's War Council. The firm opened an office in Paris on the Place Vendôme
Place Vendôme
Place Vendôme is a square in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, France, located to the north of the Tuileries Gardens and east of the Église de la Madeleine. It is the starting point of the Rue de la Paix. Its regular architecture by Jules Hardouin-Mansart and pedimented screens canted across the...

 in 1926 to better serve the growing organization.

In 1900, White became a commissioner of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission
Palisades Interstate Park Commission
Palisades Interstate Park and its creator, the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, was formed in 1900 by governors Theodore Roosevelt of New York and Foster M. Voorhees of New Jersey in response to the destruction of the Palisades by quarry operators in the late 19th century...

, formed to preserve the wooded cliffs along the Hudson River
Hudson River
The Hudson is a river that flows from north to south through eastern New York. The highest official source is at Lake Tear of the Clouds, on the slopes of Mount Marcy in the Adirondack Mountains. The river itself officially begins in Henderson Lake in Newcomb, New York...

. Supporters of the project included Pierpont Morgan, railroad magnate Edward Harriman and John D. Rockefeller Jr.. But according to The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

, it was White who served as "the guiding figure" in the commission's work, handling its legal affairs free of charge for more than 30 years.

Colonel Joseph Hartfield, who joined the firm in 1905, eventually heading it from the early 1950s until 1964, was also noted for his community service. A colorful character, Hartfield was physically diminutive, one of the first Jewish lawyers to reach the pinnacle of a major New York firm, and was renowned for his annual celebratory trips to the Kentucky Derby
Kentucky Derby
The Kentucky Derby is a Grade I stakes race for three-year-old Thoroughbred horses, held annually in Louisville, Kentucky, United States on the first Saturday in May, capping the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival. The race is one and a quarter mile at Churchill Downs. Colts and geldings carry...


World War II and post-War growth

With World War II came new challenges for White & Case. In 1940, Paul Pennoyer, then head of the firm's Paris office, faced the daunting task of winding up the firm's business even as German tanks approached the city's outskirts. When he was ordered back to New York, Pennoyer tucked in his pocket the stock certificates of French cosmetics company Lanvin
Lanvin (clothing)
Lanvin is a high fashion house founded by Jeanne Lanvin.-History:Lanvin made such beautiful clothes for her daughter that they began to attract the attention of a number of wealthy people who requested copies for their own children...

. It was a risky move—whoever had physical possession of the bearer certificates could vote the shares—but it allowed Lanvin to operate outside Europe throughout the war.

The postwar years brought many high-profile matters to the Firm. In 1960, Pennoyer reopened the Paris office, beginning the global expansion that continues to the present.

White & Case represented Aramco, which held the concession to develop and produce Saudi Arabia's massive oil reserves, when the company was served with a federal grand jury subpoena
A subpoena is a writ by a government agency, most often a court, that has authority to compel testimony by a witness or production of evidence under a penalty for failure. There are two common types of subpoena:...

 in an investigation of alleged worldwide oil cartels. No action against the company resulted from those grand jury proceedings, and an enduring relationship between Saudi Aramco and White & Case had begun.

In 1954, White & Case represented the sellers in the $51.5 million sale of the Empire State Building
Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is a 102-story landmark skyscraper and American cultural icon in New York City at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street. It has a roof height of 1,250 feet , and with its antenna spire included, it stands a total of 1,454 ft high. Its name is derived...

, then one of the largest real estate
Real estate
In general use, esp. North American, 'real estate' is taken to mean "Property consisting of land and the buildings on it, along with its natural resources such as crops, minerals, or water; immovable property of this nature; an interest vested in this; an item of real property; buildings or...

 transactions in New York City history.

The 1963 "salad oil scandal
Salad oil scandal
The Salad Oil Scandal, also referred to as the "Soybean Scandal", was a major corporate scandal in 1963 that ultimately caused over $150 million in losses to corporations including American Express, Bank of America and Bank Leumi, as well as many international trading companies...

" was dubbed by The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal is an American English-language international daily newspaper. It is published in New York City by Dow Jones & Company, a division of News Corporation, along with the Asian and European editions of the Journal....

 "one of the biggest swindles in history". It involved a vegetable oil dealer who defrauded customers and lenders, including an American Express
American Express
American Express Company or AmEx, is an American multinational financial services corporation headquartered in Three World Financial Center, Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States. Founded in 1850, it is one of the 30 components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The company is best...

 subsidiary that had issued fraudulent warehouse receipts certifying the existence of oil. Among the dealer's techniques were moving oil between tanks so it could be double-counted and installing false-bottom cylinders to create the illusion that the tank was full. White & Case represented Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company
Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company
The Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company was at one time the seventh-largest bank in the United States as measured by deposits with approximately $40 billion in assets. In 1984, Continental Illinois became the largest ever bank failure in U.S. history, when a run on the bank led to...

, the largest creditor in the matter, with $20 million of outstanding loans. The case resulted in one of the largest financial settlements in history at the time, in which American Express paid its creditors $57.9 million in cash and up to $30 million of recoveries from insurance and other sources.

The Hurlock years and global expansion

Few individuals changed the firm more than James Hurlock, who shaped the firm's global presence and structure as its head from 1980 until 2000. Visionary and demanding, Hurlock was a Rhodes Scholar and spent 10 of his first 16 years with White & Case in Europe.

Two early negotiations helped establish the reputation of the firm's sovereign practice, which represents a large number of nations, particularly in the former Communist and other emerging markets. During that time, Hurlock helped Indonesia reschedule more than $10 billion of debt, mostly held by foreign banks, when state oil company Pertamina
Pertamina is an Indonesian government-owned corporation which extracts and refines the country's oil and gas reserves. It was created in August 1968 by the merger of Pertamin and Permina...

 was unable to meet payments. The firm also helped Turkey reschedule debt incurred after the Turkish central bank accepted Turkish lira deposits convertible into hard western currencies.

White & Case began opening offices in business and financial centers worldwide, including Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

 in 1967; London in 1971; Washington, D.C. in 1978; Hong Kong in 1978; Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

 and Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

 in 1983; Ankara
Ankara is the capital of Turkey and the country's second largest city after Istanbul. The city has a mean elevation of , and as of 2010 the metropolitan area in the entire Ankara Province had a population of 4.4 million....

 and Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

 in 1985; Los Angeles in 1986; Miami and Tokyo in 1987.

When the Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin...

 fell in late 1989, the firm moved quickly to open offices in Budapest
Budapest is the capital of Hungary. As the largest city of Hungary, it is the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre. In 2011, Budapest had 1,733,685 inhabitants, down from its 1989 peak of 2,113,645 due to suburbanization. The Budapest Commuter...

, Warsaw
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

, Moscow and Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

 and was selected by the governments of the Hungary, Poland, Russia and Czech Republic to provide representation in their mass privatization
Privatization is the incidence or process of transferring ownership of a business, enterprise, agency or public service from the public sector to the private sector or to private non-profit organizations...


In 1991, the firm opened an office in Mexico City. Helsinki (Finland) followed in 1992, Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) and Bangkok (Thailand) in 1993, Almaty (Kazakhstan) in 1994, Johannesburg (South Africa) in 1995, São Paulo (Brazil) in 1997 and Bratislava
Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and, with a population of about 431,000, also the country's largest city. Bratislava is in southwestern Slovakia on both banks of the Danube River. Bordering Austria and Hungary, it is the only national capital that borders two independent countries.Bratislava...

 in 1999. In all these markets, White & Case remains one of only a small number of international law firms to have successfully established a presence.

White & Case was also one of the first law firms to spot the growing potential of the Chinese market, adding offices in Shanghai (2000) and Beijing (2004) to its Hong Kong-led Asian network.

From the beginning, foreign offices were regarded as an integral part of the firm. Jean-Luc Boussard, who joined White & Case in 1975, became the first European partner in 1982. Today, the majority of the firm's partners are based outside the United States.

Mergers and lateral recruitment also became part of the firm's strategy. In 1998, White & Case merged with Brussels’ Forrester, Norall & Sutton, focusing on European Union law
European Union law
European Union law is a body of treaties and legislation, such as Regulations and Directives, which have direct effect or indirect effect on the laws of European Union member states. The three sources of European Union law are primary law, secondary law and supplementary law...

. The Brussels office today is a recognized leader in this area of practice.

The 21st century

Partner Duane Wall assumed leadership of White & Case in 2000, and presided over further expansion of the firm, especially in Europe, where the firm opened in Italy (Milan, 2001) and merged with one of Germany's largest firms, Feddersen. There were initially five German offices absorbed into White & Case (Frankfurt, Berlin, Dresden, Düsseldorf, Hamburg) although the network was extended in 2006 with the addition of space in the growing technology centre of Munich at the expense of the disbanding German firm, Haarmann Hemmelrath
Haarmann Hemmelrath
Haarmann Hemmelrath was an independent German professional firm provided legal services, audit counsel and tax advice. It was founded in Munich in 1987 and at its peak Haarmann Hemmelrath employed 650 professionals, including 350 attorneys in 22 offices worldwide...


After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, White & Case was one of five firms that formed a steering group to coordinate the efforts of New York lawyers to provide free emergency legal services to victims.

In 2005, for the first time, White & Case broke through the US$1 billion revenue barrier and also became home to more than 2,000 lawyers.

Since 2000, the London office of White & Case has expanded considerably and now has a legal staff of more than 400. White & Case was one of the first US firms to establish a London office, in 1971, and was one of the first foreign firms to qualify when the Law Society of England and Wales
Law Society of England and Wales
The Law Society is the professional association that represents the solicitors' profession in England and Wales. It provides services and support to practising and training solicitors as well as serving as a sounding board for law reform. Members of the Society are often consulted when important...

 changed its rules in 1993 to allow English and registered foreign lawyers to practice together in partnership. The London office offers both English and US-qualified lawyers and strong practices in the areas of banking and finance, capital markets, M&A, project finance
Project finance
Project finance is the long term financing of infrastructure and industrial projects based upon the projected cash flows of the project rather than the balance sheets of the project sponsors...

 and dispute resolution
Dispute resolution
Dispute resolution is the process of resolving disputes between parties.-Methods:Methods of dispute resolution include:* lawsuits * arbitration* collaborative law* mediation* conciliation* many types of negotiation* facilitation...


New management team

On October 1, 2007, White & Case unveiled a new leadership team, led by Chairman Hugh Verrier. Previously head of the firm's Moscow office, Verrier was elected by the partnership in August 2007. The firm's new Executive Committee, which acts as the executive decision-making body, includes Verrier and three appointed partners: Anthony Kahn, Oliver Brettle and Asli Basgoz.

2008 economic crisis

In 2008, the frozen credit markets, economic shrinkage, and global downturn that began in 2008 has had a significant impact on White & Case as well as other law firms. On November 11, 2008, the firm announced that it was laying off 70 lawyers and 100 staff members at a time when job prospects for lawyers were very weak. With a second round of layoffs on March 10, 2009, an additional 200 lawyers and 200 staff were laid off.
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