Top Law Firms
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP & Affiliates – Founded in 1948, the global law firm is based in the Condé Nast Building in New York City and has more than 2,000 attorneys working for one of the largest and highest-grossing law firms in the world. Major practice areas include mergers and acquisitions, litigation and arbitration, corporate finance, corporate restructuring, securities law, energy and infrastructure, antitrust, and tax and intellectual property.
With annual revenue of $2.2 billion, Skadden is the largest law firm in the country and has continued to hold onto the No. 1 spot for more than a decade. The firm has offices throughout the U.S. in Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and in other countries such as Beijing, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, Paris, Vienna, Singapore and Sydney.
Notable clients and cases include:
- Represented Gucci Group and Arcelor during their attempts to repel high-profile hostile takeovers
- Represented Yahoo! in its proposed takeover by Microsoft
- Represented Bear Stearns in its acquisition by JP Morgan Chase
- Participated in the RJR Nabisco buyout in which the team advised the board of directors of the financial soundness of the respective bids
- Represented HealthSouth Corporation after the Securities and Exchange Commission charged former management of committing fraud
- Led the IPO of China Construction Bank
Founders: Marshall Skadden, John Slate, Les Arps
No. of offices: 24
No. of attorneys: 2,000
No. of employees: approximately 4,500
Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP – Founded in 1819, the law firm is the second oldest firm in the country, and was created by two predecessor firms in New York City and Auburn, NY to form Blatchford, Seward & Griswold. Name partner Samuel Blatchford served on the U.S. Supreme Court and William Seward served as governor and senator of New York before becoming Secretary of State under Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson.
Paul Drennan Cravath joined the firm in 1899 and coined the term, the “Cravath System,” as a training program for associates which rotates them among the firm’s partners within a given practice. Cravath has represented historical and high profile cases, such as Samuel Morse’s invention of the telegraph, assistance with the creation of NBC, and Netscape’s antitrust suit against Microsoft. The firm has also assisted with merger and acquisition deals such as the DuPont-Conoco merger, Time-Warner merger, and Ford-Jaguar merger.
Practices of expertise include corporate, litigation, tax, executive compensation and benefits, trusts and estates.
Founder: Richard Blatchford
No. of offices: 2
No. of attorneys: 500+
Jones Day – Founded in 1893 in Cleveland, OH, the firm is among the top grossing firms in the nation with annual revenues of $1.4 billion. The company says it is organized as a true partnership and doesn’t run as an LLP or LLC, but rather as a global legal institution based on a set of principles following social purpose and permanence to which its attorneys can commit.
The firm serves all industries imaginable including financial institutions, health care providers, retail chains, individuals and educational institutions. Past notable clients include Macy’s, American Airlines, Apple Inc., CBS Corporation, Dell Inc., Research in Motion Limited, The Proctor and Gamble Company, PepsiCo, Chevron Corporation, among others.
The firm has offices in Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Pittsburg, along with international offices in Taipei, Sydney, Paris, New Delhi, Madrid, Dubai, Frankfurt, Brussels, and Beijing, among others.
Founders: Edwin Blandin and William Lowe Rice
No. of offices: 34
No. of attorneys: 2,500
Sullivan & Cromwell – Established in 1879, the international law firm is headquartered in New York with about 800 lawyers in 12 offices. The law firm has an expertise in every practice imaginable, including arbitration, congressional investigations, criminal defense, executive compensation and benefits, environmental, hedge funds, labor and employment litigation, clean technology and alternative energy, structured finance, and others.
The firm has an extremely impressive history with its earliest involvement in the formation of Edison General Electric Company, the United States Steel Corporation, representation of the Panama Canal Authority, and preparation of the first major registration statement of the Securities Act of 1933.
Founders: Algernon Sydney Sullivan, William Nelson Cromwell
No. of offices: 12
No. of attorneys: 800
Six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda
New Deloitte research reveals that tax leaders are under increasing pressure to add strategic value as companies accelerate business model transformation, from undergoing digital transformations to rethinking their supply chains or investing in green initiatives.
According to Phil Mills, Deloitte Global Tax & Legal Leader, to “truly deliver value to the business, the tax function needs to rethink its resourcing model and transform its technology infrastructure to create capacity and control costs”.
And the good news, according to Mills, is that tax and business leaders have more options at their disposal to achieve this.
Reflecting the insights of global tax and finance executives at global companies, Deloitte’s Tax Operations in Focus study reveals the six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda.
Trend 1: Businesses seek more strategic counsel from tax
Companies are being pushed to develop new digital products and distribution channels and accelerate sustainable transformation and this is taking them into uncharted tax territory. Tax leaders say their teams must have the resources and skills to give deeper advisory support on digital business models (65%), supply chain restructuring (49%) and sustainability (48%) over the next two years. This means redrawing the boundaries of what tax professionals focus on, and accelerating adoption of advanced technologies and lower-cost resourcing models to meet compliance requirements and free up time.
According to Joanne Walker, Group Tax Director, BT Group PLC, "There’s still a heavy compliance load today, but the vision for the future would be that much of that falls away, and tax people become subject matter experts who help program the machine, ensure quality control, and redirect their time to advisory activity.”
Trend 2: Tipping point for resourcing models
Business partnering demands in the tax department are on the rise, but 93% of tax leaders say their department’s budget is remaining flat or falling. To ensure that the tax function can redefine itself as a strategic function at the pace that is required, leaders are choosing to move increasing amounts of compliance and reporting to a combination of shared service centers, finance departments, and outsourcing providers that have invested in best-in-class technology.
Trend 3: Digital tax administration is moving faster than expected
in addition to the rising focus of the corporate tax department partnering with their business counterparts, transformative changes to the way companies share tax information with revenue authorities is also creating an imperative to modernize operations at a faster pace. Nine in 10 (92%) respondents say that shifting revenue authority demands on digital tax administration will have a moderate or high impact on tax operations and resources over the next five years—and several heads of tax said the trend is moving faster than expected.
"It’s really stepped up in the last couple of years," says Anna Elphick, VP Tax, Unilever. "Tax authorities don't just want a faster turnaround for compliance but access into a company’s systems. It's not unreasonable to think that in a much shorter time than we expect, compliance will be about companies reviewing a return that's been drafted by the tax authorities."
Trend 4: Data simplification and lower-cost resourcing are top priorities
Tax leaders said that simplifying data management (53%) and moving to lower-cost resourcing models (51%) must be prioritized if tax is to become more proactive at delivering strategic insights to the business. Many tax teams are ensuring that they have a seat at the table as ERP systems are overhauled, which is paying dividends: 56% of those that have introduced NextGen ERP systems are now highly effective at supporting the business with scenario-modeling insights. Only 35% of those with moderate to low use of NextGen ERP systems said the same.
At Stryker, “we automated the source P&L process for transfer pricing which took a huge burden off of the divisions," says David Furgason, Vice President Tax. "Then we created a transfer price database to deposit and retrieve data so we have limited impact on the divisions. We are moving to a single ERP platform which will help us make take the next step with robotics.”
Trend 5: Skillsets are shifting
Embedding a new data infrastructure and redesigning processes are critical for the future tax vision. Tax leaders are aligned — data skills (45%) and technology process experience (43%) are ‘must have’ skills in a tax department of the future, but more traditional tax specialist knowledge also remains key (40%). The trick to success will be in tax leaders facilitating the way these professionals, with their different backgrounds, can work together collectively to unlock lasting value.
Take Infineon Technologies, which formed a VAT technology and governance group "that has the right knowledge about how to change the system to ensure it generates the right reports", according to Matthias Schubert, Global Head of Tax. "Involving them early was key as we took a greenfield approach, so we could think about what the optimal processes would look like and how more intelligent systems could make an impact
Trend 6: 2020 brought productivity improvements
Improved productivity (50%) and accelerating shifts to remote working (48%) were cited as the biggest operational benefits to emerge from COVID-19-driven disruption. But, as 78% of leaders now plan to embed either hybrid or fully remote models in the tax function long term, 34% say maintaining productivity benefits is a top concern. And, as leaders think about building their talent pipeline and strengthening advisory skill sets, 47% say they must prioritize new approaches to talent recognition and career development over the next two years, while 36% say new processes for involving tax in business strategy decisions must be established.