At The American Lawyer Industry Awards last December, Davis Polk & Wardwell was named Law Firm of the Year, owing in part to an incredible run of success in 2020 that saw revenue and profits skyrocket. In 2021, the firm took another significant step forward, growing the top and bottom lines by double digits.
For Neil Barr, the firm’s chair and managing partner, the financial results are less important than the process that led to them. In this interview, he discusses the strategy that has pushed the firm forward in recent years, the growing concern that “choppy waters” could challenge law firms in 2022, and what he’s learned as a leader over the course of the pandemic. This conversation has been lightly edited.