As we celebrate our 40th anniversary, chair Philip Inglima writes to Crowell & Moring lawyers and professional about how the spirit that inspired us to launch a different kind of firm is still with us today.

“The Road Less Traveled,” An Essay to Crowell & Moring Lawyers and Professional Staff by Philip Inglima as the Firm Turns 40

June 5, 2019

Our journey began forty years ago. It began with 53 brave attorneys who defected from a secure perch in one of the largest and most prestigious firms in the nation to establish their own enterprise with a loyal and equally brave team of professional staff. Together, this group of individuals pledged loyalty to one another and risked reputations and careers to go their own way. In short, our founders were a band of rebels who took that risk, and believed in themselves.

We celebrate today because they took that risk, and together made good on it—and we all won. 

Looking back at that moment from the privileged vantage point we enjoy today, from our international community of nearly 550 lawyers and 1,100 professionals combined, it can be easy to underestimate the risk they took, and the fortitude it required of each and every one of them. But we need to summon that perspective today, both to appreciate what our founders accomplished, and to emulate their example every day.

Crowell & Moring began as an idea, an inspiration, a yearning to do things differently. By our tenth anniversary, our founding members had reduced that shared mission to a statement that still rings true to our ambitions today:

The overriding vision of the firm is to provide its clients with the best legal services of any firm in the world;

And at the same time, to provide for the steady intellectual and economic growth of the firm and each individual person associated with the firm;

And at the same time, to accomplish this in an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect, as well as maintaining a spirit of cooperation and sharing;

And at the same time, to recognize our obligations as a firm and as individuals to ourselves, our family, our community, and indeed the world;

And at the same time, to dare to experiment, to try out new ideas, and sometimes to take the road less traveled;

And, yes, even risk failure.

What a bold vision! So high-minded, and yet so straightforward: we want to be the best at what we do, and we want to deliver those results to our clients while collaborating, supporting, and advancing those with whom we work. We want to provide for our families, stimulate ourselves intellectually, and give back to our communities. And we want to innovate, differentiate, and go our own way, even if that’s not the most assured path to take. But we know that in doing so, the results will truly be ours. We forge our successes together, with people who share this pledge, this mission, and the gratification it brings.

Our mission is one of both “power and soul,” as our founding partner, Eldon “Took” Crowell often reminded us. Took referred to the power generated by gathering exceptional talents and applying them to the most pressing needs and challenges of major companies and organizations. He identified our soul in our efforts to support each other, and our communities, and those clients who would have no voice if we did not come to their defense. Yet, soul that also keeps us humble, reminding us not to take ourselves too seriously, reminding us of the importance of laughter. Reminding us that sometimes we need to revisit our mission statement—and sometimes all we need is a rubber duck.

Over these past four decades, we have grown and evolved and changed in many ways. We’ve become larger. We’ve expanded our reach and our client base. We’ve enriched and deepened our diversity. We’ve become stronger economically and more profitable. We’ve touched our communities in ways that have made them, and us, better. 

In every way, we still have so much more to achieve. Are we still prepared to take risks? To choose to be different? To go it our own way? To take the road less traveled? Yes, we are. We choose this team. This path. This mission. We choose this journey, together.

Throughout the coming days, we will hear from a few of our colleagues about how they have seen the power and soul of our firm come to life. We hope you will enjoy their stories and take a moment to talk about your own during anniversary events this week.

Here’s to our next forty years. Here’s to Crowell & Moring.


for the Management Board