Evan Davis, who has landed in the retirement tier after 30 years at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, is striking out on his own by starting a mediation and arbitration practice.
“If you want to keep working until 75 or 80, you have to find a new niche that will…build on your strengths,” said Davis.
As of July 1, Davis, 68, will take on the roles of mediator, arbitrator, expert witness or moot court judge at Evan A. Davis LLC. He officially retired on June 30, but continues to work from his Cleary office.
Davis said he wants to keep practicing law until he’s well over 75, but “firms generally in New York don’t let you practice that long.”
Under Cleary’s system, partners typically retire between 65 and 70, Davis said.
Davis said he has three children—ages 10, 13 and 16—to support, and “I have to make a new chapter in my practice” with work that taps his talent and experience.
At Cleary, Davis focused on alternate dispute resolution and complex litigation related to mergers and acquisitions. He has arbitration and mediation experience as a party-appointed arbitrator, an arbitration tribunal chair, a mediator and an advocate in arbitration and mediation.
Davis said he is especially looking forward to serving as a moot court or mock court judge for attorneys who want to hone their presentations.
“If you do a practice argument or a practice trial before an experienced lawyer who is going to ask the tough questions and probe, not only will you be able to improve your arguments,” he said, “but you’re going to have an additional sense of the strengths and weaknesses of your case.”
He added, “It’s a very economical way to get a significant improvement in your chances of success.”
Davis admits he has always wanted to be a judge, noting he was a candidate for the chief judge of the Court of Appeals the year Jonathan Lippman was chosen.
“If it can’t be a public job, it’s exciting to be a private judge,” he said.
Davis said he will continue to contribute to Cleary by working on pro bono cases, mentoring and CLE training, but his new practice will be independent of the firm.
“We are grateful for Evan’s many contributions to our practice during his more than 30 years at the firm and wish him success,” Cleary said in a statement.
Davis served as president of the New York City Bar from May 2000 through May 2002. He is a former counsel to Governor Mario Cuomo, has served as vice chair of the trustees of Columbia University, where he earned a law degree in 1969, and ran for the Democratic nomination for New York Attorney General in 1998, losing to Eliot Spitzer.
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