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CRAVATH MODEL IN THE INDIAN LEGAL PROFESSION

Author: Sharvari Yadnesh Sambhus, LL.M from Jindal University


The legal System in India and particularly the Indian legal profession has changed, even though not drastically, but has somewhat changed in the past few decades. Be it from mergers to international law, the profession has become more prominent due to globalization. Also,in my opinion, the base of success achieved by any law firm is the associates they hire, what those associates acquire in the future.A good metaphor for the same would be, the young generation is the future of any nation, likewise, the basic hiring or the associates decide the future of a specific firm. But does that mean that only the ones in the big law schools isthe only chance of getting partnership at a big law firm? According to the Cravath Model, in my opinion, there were majorly nine features of hiring. But before that, let us see some history behind the Cravath Model, ages ago, the law-firm in New York, Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP had a partner named Paul Cravath who invented the Cravath System.


This system was basically a set of principles or features which was a foundation used for hiring. It was a system which, on the right path, evolves to success.

The essential features of the old Cravath Model were:

  • Hiring the best legal graduates from the best law schools at the best salaries.

  • Rigorous training alongside of the partners, so they could work on cases as well as be observed.

  • Permanent employment was given only to the partners. Where associates were observed to be of a greater value, they would keep them otherwise rest others were let loose.

  • The equity ownership of the firm was under a tight control.

  • The very old Cravath model used to offer the associates nothing, it was dependent on what the associates could bring into the firm, later Cravath was supposed to be the first one to hire the associates by giving them salaries.

  • The partners would be promoted only on the basis of the office.

  • The firm did not take any political favours so as to stay outside the loophole and avoid the curve ball.

  • The firm believed in an executive decision. Like a senior partner or so.

  • The clients were charged according to an hourly rate.


This model worked very well, as there was nothing pertaining to any harm of the firm, it worked well for the best firms, who supported the theory. According to Cravath model, hiring the best associates, was the first step, like graduates from the best colleges, editors, people who were keen to the knowledge and who could quickly grasp the system. Many factors contributed to the success of the Cravath System, but one key factor was how well the firms internalized the system's core elements.[1]


In around 2000’s, the legal industry started to experience significant changes. The changes included these included the rise of competition and the increasing number of clients and professionals wanting more. The modern legal industry is now more focused on providing a variety of options and a better work environment.


The end of the Cravath Model may bring a halt to the legal industries traditions of mutual respect and accountability. However, these changes do not break the industries of today's elite professionals.


One of the Cravath Model’s core principles is the belief that lawyers should have a deep working knowledge of multiple practice areas. During the early twentieth century, most firms were only focused on one or two lawyers. As the industrial revolution began to take hold, Paul Cravath recognized the need for law firms to evolve their approach.


He focused on hiring the best graduates from the best law schools and developing them as generalists so they can create a team with shared values. He also sought out candidates with passion skilled associates would eventually become partners, but only after having been well-versed in the firm’s various facets.


The new Cravath model encouraged partners to not compete with one another for business credit or hold their own book of business. All clients would get the best advice regardless of who their key partner was. Paul Cravath established the value system that we still use today. It helped define a new model for American firms for the profession and a desire to work hard.


Upon joining a Firm, according to the Cravath Model, the associates were rotated to another group to learn various disciplines. Until very recently, most deep-pocketed companies of Big Law were only able to access top-quality legal talent and resources through their corporate clients. This has caused many of them to turn to do-it-yourself solutions or rely on unlicensed legal advice. The rapid emergence and evolution of new business models in the legal industry has greatly expanded the variety of low-cost legal services on the market. Disruptive innovation is a phenomenon that occurs when a small company can compete with established businesses by offering lower prices and better products or services. As the entry continues to improve its offerings, its customer base continues to expand. This is when the entry becomes the dominant player in the market.


On a broad level, with globalization coming into existence, in my opinion, the Cravath model has pushed the Indian legal profession into a brighter future. All in all, the development in the Cravath Model has been an inclination along with globalization, it has been a real boost for the Indian Legal Profession as well as the legal system in India.


[1] John Mawdsley& Deepak Somaya, Strategy and Strategic Alignment in Professional Service Firms, The Oxford Handbook of Professional Service Firms 213 (Laura Empson et al. eds., 2015) https://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199682393.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199682393-e-12 visited on September 5, 2021

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