DEFINITION of 'White-Shoe Firm'

The most prestigious firms in professions such as law, investment banking and management consulting. White-shoe firms typically have a blue-chip clientele, acquired over the several decades that they have been in existence. The term is believed to have been derived from the "white buck" suede oxford shoes that were popular among certain sections of the student population at Yale and other Ivy League colleges during the 1950s. Although the term initially referred to leading U.S. firms such as J.P. Morgan or Goldman Sachs (banking), Cravath, Swaine & Moore (law) and McKinsey (management consulting), its usage has expanded to denote top-tier firms in most countries.

BREAKING DOWN 'White-Shoe Firm'

Although white-shoe U.S. firms in relatively stable businesses such as law and management consulting have managed to thrive over the decades, those in the investment banking business have struggled to retain their independence in the face of sweeping change and challenges in recent years. Over the year, a number of white-shoe investment banking firms in the U.S. have been acquired by bigger rivals - thereby becoming victims of their own success - while a few others have gone out of business.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Firm

    A firm is a business organization, such as a corporation, limited ...
  2. Middle Market Firm

    A firm with sizeable annual revenues, ranging from $50 million ...
  3. Buy, Strip And Flip

    When a private equity firm buys out a target firm (usually with ...
  4. Direct Market Access - DMA

    This refers to electronic facilities, often supplied by independent ...
  5. Investment Management

    A generic term that most commonly refers to the buying and selling ...
  6. Target Firm

    A company which is the subject of a merger or acquisition attempt. ...
Related Articles
  1. Personal Finance

    Career Advice: Management Consulting Vs. Law

    Compare the career opportunities between management and law using such criteria as skills needed, starting salary and work-life balance.
  2. Small Business

    What is a Firm?

    A firm is a business or organization that sells goods or services on a for-profit basis.
  3. Financial Advisor

    The Gatekeepers: Consultants Hold The Key

    Institutional investment consultants help match up asset managers with large institutions.
  4. Personal Finance

    Career Advice: Management Consulting Vs. Hedge Fund

    Compare careers in management consulting and hedge funds using criteria such as skills needed, educational requirements, salaries and work-life balance.
  5. Personal Finance

    Career Advice: Management Consulting Vs. Private Equity

    Compare the career paths of management consulting and private equity, using criteria such as skills needed, starting salary and work-life balance.
  6. Personal Finance

    Career Advice: Management Consulting Vs. Investment Banking

    Compare the career opportunities available in management consulting and investment banking. Learn about salaries, skills needed and work-life balance.
  7. Personal Finance

    Consulting - Everybody's Doing It, Should You?

    Fancy yourself a problem solver? Management consulting might be right for you.
  8. Personal Finance

    Career Advice: Financial Analyst Vs. Financial Consultant

    Read an in-depth comparison between working as a financial analyst or a financial consultant, including how to determine which career to choose.
  9. Personal Finance

    Career Advice: Investment Banking Vs. Law

    Learn some of the most important differences between a career in investment banking and law, and figure out which career suits you better.
  10. Insurance

    A Primer On Private Equity

    Private equity investing is becoming more accessible for individual investors; find out how you can get involved.
RELATED FAQS
  1. What percentage of asset management firms are privately held and not publicly traded?

    Explore asset management firms, a major part of the financial services sector, and learn about the respective markets served ... Read Answer >>
  2. Is a person registered for Financial Instruments Business eligible to conduct both ...

    Explore Japan's 2006 Financial Instruments and Exchange Law, and understand how the law affects investment services regulation. Read Answer >>
  3. How do I get started with a career in asset management?

    Find out how to get stated with a career in asset management whether you are still an undergraduate student or making a career ... Read Answer >>
  4. What is the difference between private equity and venture capital?

    Learn the differences between private equity and venture capital, especially in terms of how these types of firms invest ... Read Answer >>
  5. What does it require for a company to become a blue-chip company?

    Learn how blue-chip companies have established prestige and solid reputations by remaining strong and adapting during difficult ... Read Answer >>
  6. What is the benefit of investing in blue chip stocks?

    Learn what blue-chip stocks are, what attributes blue-chip stocks have and how investors can benefit from an investment in ... Read Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Graduate Record Examination - GRE

    A standardized exam used to measure one's aptitude for abstract thinking in the areas of analytical writing, mathematics ...
  2. Graduate Management Admission Test - GMAT

    A standardized test intended to measure a test taker's aptitude in mathematics and the English language. The GMAT is most ...
  3. Magna Cum Laude

    An academic level of distinction used by educational institutions to signify an academic degree which was received "with ...
  4. Cover Letter

    A written document submitted with a job application explaining the applicant's credentials and interest in the open position. ...
  5. 403(b) Plan

    A retirement plan for certain employees of public schools, tax-exempt organizations and certain ministers. Generally, retirement ...
  6. Master Of Business Administration - MBA

    A graduate degree achieved at a university or college that provides theoretical and practical training to help graduates ...
Trading Center