Global Conflicts & Alliances

1919 – 1968

Global Conflicts & Alliances

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Martin Luther King, Letter from Birmingham Jail


Promoting Trans-Atlantic Cooperation After World War I

Paul Cravath helps organize the Council on Foreign Relations following World War I and serves as a Director and Vice President.


The Birth of a Media Giant

Cravath organizes NBC for its three original shareholders—RCA, GE and Westinghouse—and helps it buy its first radio stations.


The Evolution of Print Journalism

Cravath represents Time, Inc., publisher of the first weekly news magazine in the United States. The Firm continues to advise Time, Inc. through its dramatic rise to become one of the leading media conglomerates of the 20th century.


Washington, D.C.

In 1924, Cravath establishes an office in the nation’s capital, which is overseen by Richard Wilmer until he leaves to serve in World War II. Upon his return, and with the support of his Cravath partners, Wilmer and former associate E. Fontaine Broun spin off Cravath’s Washington office to form the Washington firm of Wilmer & Broun in 1946. Two Cravath associates, Lloyd Cutler and John Pickering, would later join with Wilmer to form Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, which remained close to Cravath over their tenure.


Strong Bonds

The Firm begins a 50+ year relationship with E.R. Squibb & Sons, which eventually becomes part of the modern pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb.


City of Lights

The Firm opens its first Paris office in 1927, though it is closed in the midst of the Great Depression. Cravath returns to Paris in 1963, maintaining an office until 1981.


Taking Flight

The Firm advises Fairchild Aviation Corporation, a producer of modern aircraft, in numerous matters. During World War II, Cravath enables the company to support military efforts by negotiating complex wartime defense contracts.


Cravath advises IBM on its common stock offering, beginning a relationship that would span decades.


Enduring Relationships

The Firm begins enduring relationships with Unilever and DuPont.


The Era of the New Deal

A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corporation wins a unanimous Supreme Court victory, which renders parts of the National Industrial Recovery Act unconstitutional. Cravath represents Schechter Poultry.


World War II

John J. McCloy, who previously investigated the Black Tom case, leaves the Firm to serve as Assistant Secretary of War during World War II.


Saving the Met

Paul Cravath becomes president and chairman of the board of the Metropolitan Opera. After the Great Depression, Cravath saves the Metropolitan from financial ruin by reorganizing the operating company into a membership corporation and establishing the new organization as an educational institution.

Robert Swaine

Writer and Historian

As the chronicler of Cravath’s history, Robert Swaine continues to play a formative role in preserving the legacy and character of the Firm. His book, The Cravath Firm and Its Predecessors, 1819-1948, contains Swaine’s thoughtful and comprehensive history of the Firm and its partners.


Robert Swaine

Robert Swaine becomes Presiding Partner.


Military Intelligence Service

Alfred McCormack leaves the Firm to serve as Director of the Military Intelligence Service during World War II.



In 1946, Esquire, represented by Cravath, wins a unanimous ruling of the United States Supreme Court in fighting attempted censorship of its magazine by the Postmaster General.


Black Tom

Arguing before the Mixed Claims Commission at The Hague, Cravath wins the Black Tom case on behalf of Bethlehem Steel. This establishes German responsibility for the 1916 explosion of the Black Tom munitions depot in New York Harbor, intended to destroy American-made munitions to be supplied to Allies in World War I.


Is It Coffee?

In 1941, the Federal Trade Commission claims that Nestlé’s campaign for Nescafé was “advertising falsely or misleadingly as to the nature of product.” The question is whether the product is actually coffee. Cravath helps Nestlé argue that Nescafé is, in fact, coffee, as it combines authentic powdered coffee extract with carbohydrates. On August 6, 1943, the Commission orders the complaint be closed without prejudice, a win for Nestlé.



The name of the Firm becomes Cravath, Swaine & Moore.


New York State Court of Appeals Judge

Bruce Bromley is appointed to the New York State Court of Appeals by Governor Thomas E. Dewey.


Hoyt Moore becomes Presiding Partner, serving until 1957.


Global Commerce

Cravath handles U.S. listings for overseas issuers Royal Dutch/Shell and Unilever.


Upholding the Separation of Powers

Cravath represents Bethlehem Steel in the steel strikes against President Harry Truman, protecting the industry from an overreach of presidential power.


Carl Painter becomes Presiding Partner, serving a four-year term.


Fighting for Civil Rights

Cravath lawyers write the Supreme Court brief on behalf of the Congress of Racial Equality’s Freedom Rides protesting segregated buses; help the New York City Police Department rewrite its guidelines on police use of force; and are called upon by President John F. Kennedy to help form the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.


Fritz Beebe leaves the Firm for The  Washington  Post.


A Pioneering Foreign Offering

Cravath represents the European Coal and Steel Community (predecessor to the EU), in the first SEC-registered public offering by a foreign government.


Roswell Gilpatric

Deputy Secretary of Defense

Roswell Gilpatric takes leave to serve as Deputy Secretary of Defense in the Kennedy administration. After returning to the Firm, he becomes Presiding Partner in 1967.

Roswell Gilpatric

Influencer and Steady Hand

Roswell Gilpatric’s calm demeanor and sound judgment would make him a steadying influence amidst some of the most fraught moments of American international security. An official in the Truman and Eisenhower administrations, he was appointed by President John F. Kennedy to serve as Deputy Secretary of Defense, a position he held from 1961 to 1964. As a member of Kennedy’s EXCOMM team, he proved to be a pivotal voice of restraint in forming the administration’s strategic response to the Cuban Missile Crisis.



LIN Broadcasting, a television station owner and future owner of the first cellular franchises, makes its initial public offering. Cravath represents LIN.


Establishing Miranda Rights

Cravath lawyers help launch the fight for landmark litigation that would become Miranda v. Arizona, establishing that the state cannot interrogate suspects without informing them of their right to counsel.


Financing the EU

The European Investment Bank, which was formed in 1958 under the Treaty of Rome, initiates its first public debt offering in the United States. Cravath handles this offering.


Maurice Moore becomes Presiding Partner, serving until 1966.


Time, Inc. faces a privacy and First Amendment case in the Supreme Court. Cravath represents Time, Inc.