1 Liberty Plaza, Suite 38 | New York City | NY | 10006-1470
Year of establishment
Number of offices
New York City
Number of attorneys
Number of associates
Number of partners
Partner: associate ratio
Percent women attorneys
Percent minority attorneys
Percent gay attorneys
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP is a top international law firm, whose worldwide practice has a proven track record for innovation is recognized for providing topmost quality legal work for its American and international clients. The firm has 14 offices located in major financial centers around the world and its innovative and pioneering ways have helped shape the globalization of the legal profession for more than 60 years.
The firm has its headquarters in New York City and offices in Washington DC, Hong Kong, Beijing, London, Rome, Milan, Brussels, Moscow, Frankfurt, Cologne, Paris, Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo. It opened its first European office in 1949 and was among the first international law firms to hire and promote non-U.S. lawyers as equal partners around the world. It was also the first US firm to be eligible to practice law in Japan.
Cleary Gottlieb does not think of itself as a US firm with global affiliations but is operated as a single integrated global partnership employing around 1,200 lawyers, with diverse backgrounds, from more than 50 countries. Cleary Gottlieb was among the first few international law firms to hire and promote non-U.S. lawyers as equal partners around the world.
Cleary Gottlieb serves a formidable range of eminent clients that include multinational corporations, international financial institutions, sovereign governments and their agencies, as well as domestic corporations and financial institutions. Even though all the 14 offices have their own practices, its one firm approach lets the clients' access full resources of all these offices and lawyers worldwide to the extent their matters require them.
The firm was founded in New York and Washington in 1946 by four former partners in the Wall Street firm of Root Clark Buckner and Ballantine. Each of the founding partners-George Cleary, Leo Gottlieb, Henry Friendly, Mel Steen, Fowler Hamilton and George Ball had already achieved considerable professional prominence by the time the firm was formed, but they had very different backgrounds, skills and interests, which added to the composite work culture of the firm.
They named the firm "Cleary, Friendly, Gottlieb & Steen," however, Friendly's name was dropped following his appointment as a judge in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 1959.
In 1949 Cleary Gottlieb became one of the first U.S.-based firms to open an office in Paris, the first step in the growth of its international capability. By 1955 the firm gained a strong footing in Europe, the consequence of strong bond of friendship between Jean Monnet, the chief architect of the European Community and George Ball, founding partner of Cleary Gottlieb.
Areas of practice
Antitrust and Competition
Banking and Financial Institutions
Bankruptcy and Restructuring
Executive Compensation and ERISA
International Trade and Investment
Leveraged and Acquisition Finance
Litigation and Arbitration
Acquisitions and Joint Ventures
Private Clients and Charitable Organizations
Project Finance and Infrastructure
Public International Law
Sovereign Governments and International Institutions
Securities Enforcement and Internal Investigations
Currently Cleary has been advising Greece in its successful debt restructuring, the largest sovereign debt restructuring in history. They have also advised Iraq and Argentina on similar grounds.
The law firm, in New York in Oct, 2011, represented the Coca-Cola Company, as part of the consumer products and retail industries, in its proposed acquisition for Great Plains Coca-Cola Bottling Company and J. Crew by TPG Capital and Leonard Green Partners.
In July 2011-May 2012, lawyers from the firm's New York and DC offices represented Nortel in its landmark auction of more than 6,000 patents to a consortium of major industry players that included, amongst others Apple, Microsoft, RIM and Sony for $4.5 billion-a deal that has been credited with transforming the role of intellectual property in M&A deals.
It was retained as legal counsel by Euronext NV in its
Awards and recognitions
n recognition of the firm's strong global practice, its effectiveness in dealing with the different business cultures of the countries in which it operates, and its success in multiple jurisdictions, Cleary Gottlieb received Chambers & Partners' inaugural "International Law Firm of the Year" award.
The firm is, time after time, rated as one of the top ten most prestigious law firms by Vault.com. Chambers and Partners gives the firm high marks in the following practice areas: Corporate, Litigation, M&A, Private Equity, Antitrust, Capital Markets, Employee Benefits, Real Estate and Income Tax.
This year too Cleary got a host of awards, amongst them, being ranked 3rd in Hong Kong in "Employer of Choice" Survey. It won the "Best International Firm Latin America Practice" award in June, 2012. It was named to the National Law Journal's "Intellectual Property Hot List." It also won the "Deal of the Year" and "Dealmaker of the Year" awards.
In March 2012, it won many awards that included the IFLR "Deals of the Year" Awards, the "Global Competition Review Award for Behavioral Matter of the Year".
The firm's hiring criteria are based on a number of factors, prime amongst them being that the candidate must have performed outstandingly in legal and undergraduate studies and must be committed to high professional standards. The firm seeks candidates from across the world but selects only those who are likely to thrive and flourish in the firm's emphasis on excellence and collegiality. The firm meets with and interviews top students at the best U.S. law schools and recruits leading international lawyers, whose expertise on local jurisdictions adds to the worth and value of their global practice.
Diversity and inclusion were among the founding principles of Cleary Gottlieb. In their more than 60 years of history, the firm has continued its strong commitment to those principles. The firm is home to individuals from varied cultural, educational, religious and ethnic backgrounds, making Cleary Gottlieb a vibrant and engaging community.
The firm promotes an environment where women and men of different races, national origins, religions and sexual orientations can practice law in a collegial and effective manner. The firm remains aware of the need to promote open benefit policies, forge alliances with relevant affinity groups, engage in community building, conduct frequent diversity training and improve retention rates of associates.
The firm believes in fostering a work environment that is free from all forms of discrimination and harassment, where all observe the highest professional standards and treat each other with civility, respect and dignity.
Consistent with these goals, the firm has a policy prohibiting any form of discrimination or harassment based on sex, race, color, religion, sexual orientation or preference, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, disability, marital status, citizenship, military status, genetic predisposition or carrier status, or any other category protected by law. This policy applies to all employment-related matters, including recruitment, hiring, placement, assignments, training, compensation, promotion and termination.
In addition to these policies, each office may have other specific rules designed to comply with local law requirements relating to discrimination, including sexual harassment.
Summer associate program
Cleary holds a 12-week summer program in its New York and Washington D.C. offices and also allows summer associates to rotate in one of its 10 overseas offices. Summer associates are expected to complete between 11 and 15 assignments over the course of the summer.
Associates praise the cordial atmosphere and the opportunity to work with the best in the business. Respondents say that they enjoy the long hours of work, since the work is incredibly interesting and varied.
Internship is not confined to New York. International assignments are plentiful: in past years, more than one third of our summer associates have spent time working in Cleary Gottlieb's overseas offices.
The firm also had one of the highest offer rates in 2009, with 99% of its 119 summer associates receiving offers. In 2010, the firm made 100% offers to its 84-member summer class and in 2011, Cleary increased its summer class size to 110 summer associates. Cleary is one of the few law firms that have not deferred start dates for any incoming associate classes.
Second year law students are paid $3,077 per week.
Salary & benefits
The firm employs a set lockstep system for U.S. associate salaries and bonuses. A majority of the Lateral Link Members say that this is the most preferred option as it eliminates "associate vs. associate competition" and makes the workplace environment more conducive.
Cleary Gottlieb's starting salary is $160,000. The firm pays this starting salary in each of its U.S. offices. In 2009 and 2010, the firm matched the lower "Cravath-level" bonuses but in 2011 they matched Sullivan & Cromwell's additional spring bonus. Notably, during the worst of the financial crisis, the firm did not engage in any salary freezes or cuts.
The firm offers a standard four weeks of vacation time and eighteen months maternity leave. The firm provides a subsidized cafeteria, free gym membership and free dinners.
In addition to bar expenses, new associates in New York can expect Cleary to pay for a broker fee required to find housing, as well as travel and lodging in Albany or New York City for the bar exam.
There is no official minimum billable-hour requirement to receive bonuses. Though the expectation is that associates will bill at least 2000 hours, like most top corporate firms, associates regularly bill far more than that.
Bar Association Fees
Business Casual Dress Code
401(k)/IRA/Other Ret. Plan w/Employer Contribution
Domestic Partner Benefits
Employee Assistance Program
Family/Dependent Care Leave
Flexible Spending Account/Pre-Tax Option
Health Club Membership
Long-term Care Insurance
Long-term Disability Insurance
Medical Spending Account
Short-term Disability Insurance
Technology (Laptop, PDA, etc.)
Benefits Package: Health, dental, life & disability insurance; 401(k) Plan; Flex.Spending Accts.; Pretax Transit Prog.; gym membership; 4 wks.vacation (5 wks. after 4th yr anniv.);18 wks. primary caregiver leave; 5 wks. secondary caregiver leave; New Mother's Room; off-site & emergency child care; Flex-Time program and Telecommuting program; Employee Assistance Program; moving expenses; broker fee; bar review tuition; NYS bar exam fee; one bar membership dues annually; travel & lodge for Bar Exam/Albany; law school matching gift program.
Working for the Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
Working experience at Cleary Gottlieb is in keeping with its reputation of being one of the world's top law firms. A place where the new associate can expect to tap services and benefits that is on par with the best elsewhere. At Cleary Gottlieb you will be exposed to the newest technologies and get to work in flexible work arrangements and compensation packages that equal any of other leading firms.
Although, like all law firms Cleary Gottlieb to has its share of the intellectual academic types socializing between attorneys is commonplace.
In a nutshell working life at of Cleary Gottlieb is a worthwhile experience. Be prepared to put in long hours of work but you will be well compensated for it. Moreover, if you are keen to broaden your horizons in cross border transactions, financing in emerging markets or anything remotely similar, Cleary Gottlieb will be an ideal choice, but to land a job, ensure that you are more than just a well-written resume and set of credentials.
Cleary Gottlieb considers Pro Bono activities as one of its most important values. It feels obligated and privileged to practice law and a duty to give back to the community from which it has received so much respect and recognition. Indeed, approximately two-thirds of all Cleary Gottlieb lawyers worldwide participate in pro bono and public service programs.
Cleary strongly encourages associates to do pro bono work. The firm is a charter signatory to the Pro Bono Institute's Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge, which pledges 3% of billables as pro bono work. Their lawyers have provided counsel to all kinds of people - from veterans to domestic violence survivors to micro-entrepreneurs starting small businesses in their communities. All of which has earned their pro bono practice a number of awards.
Cleary Gottlieb's longstanding commitment to public service dates back to three of its founders: Henry J. Friendly became Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, George W. Ball served as Undersecretary of State and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Fowler Hamilton served as Director of the Agency for International Development. This founding spirit and conviction lives on today with the firm dedicating more than 70,000 hours to pro bono and public service efforts annually.
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