Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP's evolution as a leading international law firm parallels the economic development of the US and the world. Milbank’s roots stretch back to 1866, when Anderson, Adams & Young opened its offices on Wall Street. Over the course of the ensuing 145 years, there were many new partners, name changes and a merger -- but innovation and vitality in adapting to changing needs and times remain a hallmark of the firm.
Milbank’s Early Years
In an America bursting with industry and invention, Milbank supplied important legal innovations that fueled the engines of economic change—railroads, banking and oil. Strategies relied on by Rockefellers and Vanderbilts to transform business and commerce propelled Milbank into the forefront of financial services law firms. In the wake of World War I, our expertise helped resolve questions arising from commodities shortages and bank loans. When the Great Depression gripped the country in the 1930s, Milbank helped untangle the fallout from financial collapse, leading bankruptcies, reorganizations and securities disputes. In 1938, Milbank was called upon to assist the New York Stock Exchange, thus beginning a relationship that continues to this day.
Responding to a New Era
Embracing new challenges, we applied our technical skill and imagination to a post World War II landscape, quickly becoming a leader in the expansion of public utilities and corporate activities. Milbank answered the needs of a growing economy by setting up and revising pension plans established by Ford, General Motors, Western Union and other blue chip companies. When David Rockefeller took over as Chairman of The Chase Manhattan Bank in 1967, the firm’s close ties with the Rockefeller family helped Milbank strengthen its historic relationship with the bank, leading to the firm’s preeminence in the financial services sector.
The world continued to change and during the 1979-1981 Iranian hostage crisis, the collision of politics and finance placed Milbank in the center of delicate financial negotiations that aided in the captives’ eventual release. In response to the growing role of the US federal government in business activities, Milbank also opened a Washington, DC, office in 1980—and then later in the decade—a Los Angeles one to reflect the westward march of innovation and finance.
With the growth in energy project finance in the 1990s, we pioneered deal after deal, catering to a booming world economy and the emerging markets in Asia and Latin America. Milbank was--and still is--recognized as the trailblazer in this vital area of finance.
As innovation spread, the economic cycles also sped up and the downturns deepened. Recognizing the importance of countercyclical work, in the 1990s and early 2000s, Milbank rapidly invested in and strengthened its restructuring and litigation practices--representing the creditors on nearly every major US bankruptcy this century including Enron, WorldCom, Pacific Gas & Electric, RefCo and Lehman Brothers.
In the unfolding 21st century, information and communication technology transformed the world. Milbank led the way with involvement in more satellite transactions than any other law firm, the development of cellular telecoms from the Philippines to Brazil and the securing of critical patents that are the foundation stone of today's electronic world.
A Global View
Realizing the importance of expanding beyond geographic borders, Milbank rose to prominence as an international law firm early in its history. As counsel to foreign corporations with US interests and American corporations operating overseas, we forged relationships in the ‘20s that endure today. In 1977, we opened our Tokyo office—ten years before any other US law firm—and one in Hong Kong, cementing Milbank’s status as one of the very top firms in Asia. We have always sought to smartly control the firm’s growth, strategically positioning offices in key financial centers— London, Frankfurt, Munich, Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Beijing and São Paulo as well as New York, Los Angeles and Washington, DC—that can best serve client needs for complex global solutions demanded by an intricately interconnected world.
Over more than 145 years, Milbank has constantly evolved—entering new markets, assisting emerging industries and expanding its global presence. Yet, some things remain unchanged. We continue to build on a tradition of excellence, a spirit of support and collegiality, and a commitment to serving respected corporations and institutions worldwide.
The Name Partners
Albert G. Milbank
Albert G. Milbank served on the board of directors of the Welfare Board of New York City and Greater New York, the New York War Fund and the National Institute of Social Science. He was a trustee emeritus of Princeton University and a trustee of the Pierpont Morgan Library. Among his honors: Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire - Civil Division and the first annual Award Medal of the Welfare Council for Distinguished Service to the Community. He was instrumental in establishing the Milbank Memorial Fund, considered a benchmark for similar funds, like the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Harrison Tweed was one of the most prominent lawyers of his generation in the United States. As founder and president of the American Law Institute, he organized and promoted continuing education for lawyers and chaired the American Law Institute's Committee on Continuing Legal Education. Mr. Tweed served as president of Sarah Lawrence College. He was also president of The Association of the Bar of the City of New York and the Legal Aid Society. He was instrumental in reorganizing the court systems in New York State and President Kennedy named him as the first chair of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. He was awarded medals by the City Bar, the State Bar and the American Bar Associations.
Morris Hadley was a trustee of the Russell Sage Foundation and also sat on the board of trustees of both the Pierpont Morgan Library and the New York Public Library, where he served as its president. He also authored two books: one, a biography of his father who had been president of Yale University, and another entitled “The Citizen and the Law.”
John J. McCloy
John J. McCloy was described by The New York Times as "lawyer, diplomat and adviser to seven Presidents." From 1941-1945, he served as Assistant Secretary of War. Although he joined the firm in 1946 and, along with Mr. Hadley, became a name partner, he was quickly called back into public service later that year to serve as president of the World Bank. The firm was then renamed Milbank, Tweed, Hope & Hadley. He remained at the World Bank until 1949 when President Truman appointed him High Commissioner of Germany. In 1952, he returned to the private sector as chair of the financial institution that would under his leadership become The Chase Manhattan Bank. During this period he also served as chair of the Ford Foundation. He rejoined Milbank in 1961 as "of counsel," but was soon pressed back into public service by President Kennedy to act as Special Assistant on Disarmament, and by President Johnson, who appointed him to the Warren Commission, which investigated Kennedy’s assassination. Upon his return as a general partner in 1962, the firm name became Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy. A remarkable gathering of former Presidents, Secretaries of State, the German Chancellor and other world leaders attended the memorial service of this distinguished lawyer and private citizen in 1989.