The Legal Profession Blog

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William Henderson

The "Cravath system” purports to hire the best graduates from the best law schools and provide them with the best training.The New York firm of Cravath Swaine & Moore created and refined this system during the early 20th century. The emphasis on educational credentials was initially an attempt to establish a distinctive brand of legal services that could differentiate the firm from other Wall Street competitors. Now, ironically, it has become a uniform industry practice utilized by every large law firm that claims to provide first-rate services. Virtually all firms mimic the Cravath system without understanding its logic. If a firm neglects a key element--e.g., investing in associates--the model generates no competitive advantage.