2022 Vault Rankings
At a Glance
“The amazing pro bono work I get to do.”
“The learning opportunities.”
“The lack of transparency about decision-making processes.”
“Very minimal internal promotion prospects.”
About Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
Cleary is a leading global law firm, with offices on four continents and an unparalleled reputation for groundbreaking work. While long known as a dominant player in the international and corporate business world, Cleary has built out both corporate and litigation capabilities that have strengthened and expanded the full suite of resources it offers clients.
Founded in 1946 by four former partners of the Wall Street law firm Root Clark and three attorneys steeped in government service (including Henry Friendly, who is widely known as a preeminent federal judge from his time on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit), Cleary Gottlieb simultaneously opened offices in New York and Washington, DC—still the firm’s only two domestic offices.
The firm almost immediately began to expand its global footprint in 1949 with the opening of its Paris office, hiring local lawyers who were partially trained in the United States and giving the foreign lawyers equal partnership. The firm opened an office in Brussels in 1960, which would help the firm play a leading role in the burgeoning Eurodollar markets when the European Community came to Belgium a few years later. Once Cleary started expanding, it didn’t stop; today, the firm sports offices throughout Europe, Asia, South America, and the Middle East.
Foreign Governments on Speed Dial
Cleary is well known for its representation of national governments, especially in advising on sovereign debt offerings. Over the years, the firm has represented Argentina in its $16.5 billion bond offering, Côte d’Ivoire in a 150 billion West African Franc offering, and Indonesia in its $3 billion bond offering. Other prominent sovereign government clients have included Armenia, Barbados, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Greece, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, Togo, and Uruguay. Cleary has also represented the Puerto Rico Public-Private Partnerships Authority in a landmark agreement intended to transform Puerto Rico’s electric sector; the transaction represents a historic milestone in the Government of Puerto Rico’s objective of providing modern, affordable, resilient, and reliable power to the island and will help serve as a driver of economic recovery and growth.
While recognized as an “integrated global partnership,” back home in the states, Cleary makes headlines with its highly regarded corporate, antitrust, and litigation practices. Cleary has been involved in high-profile corporate matters, including acting as global antitrust counsel to T-Mobile US and Deutsche Telekom in T-Mobile US’s $146 billion merger with Sprint Corporation, and The Dow Chemical Company in its $130 billion merger of equals with DuPont. On the litigation front, Cleary represented National Amusements, Inc., NAI Entertainment Holdings LLC, and Shari and Sumner Redstone in the largest corporate control battle in recent memory, securing a major settlement in a high-profile litigation against CBS and its board in relation to the merger between CBS and Viacom. The firm also regularly represents clients in monopolization and conspiracy cases and is counsel to Robert Bosch GmbH and Robert Bosch LLC in criminal and regulatory investigations.
Alumni of the firm are found in corporate C-suites, U.S. Attorney’s offices, and government agencies, and lawyers regularly choose to return to Cleary following their years of government service. Cleary also boasts among its ranks former federal prosecutors, former Deputy Assistant Attorneys General of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, former FDIC General Counsel, former SEC General Counsel, a former Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, and a former Chief Litigation Counsel of the SEC’s Enforcement Division.
Cleary takes seriously the health and well-being of its lawyers, professional staff, clients, prospective recruits and all who we interact with. Accordingly, we closely monitor and follow the guidance of individual law schools regarding the timing and potential virtual approach to the traditional “on campus” recruiting model.
Our 2021 summer program was a fully virtual 10-week platform that incorporated the hallmarks of a traditional Cleary summer program—substantive, high-caliber work; personal and professional development programming; the opportunity to participate in a two-week virtual rotation with one of our overseas offices; and networking and mentorship opportunities.
Our Flexible Work Policy has been developed in light of our experience with remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the successes we have collectively achieved. The policy allows all eligible personnel to spend some time working remotely for a maximum of two days per week in a secure, private location, and some time working onsite at their office location.
News & Awards
- Cleary Gottlieb represented The Walt Disney Company and 21st Century Fox on antitrust matters related to Disney’s $71.3 billion acquisition of 21CF, one of the largest and most complex media transactions of all time.
- Cleary Gottlieb represented McCormick & Company in its $4.2 billion acquisition of the food business of British conglomerate Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc, comprised of the French’s, Frank’s RedHot, Cattlemen’s, and Tiger’s Milk brands, and in its $800 million acquisition of the parent company of Cholula Hot Sauce.
- Cleary Gottlieb represented Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) in the formation of KKR Global Impact, its first social impact fund, and in the formation of $15 billion KKR Asian Fund IV, KKR’s fourth Asian buyout fund and the world’s largest Asia-focused private equity fund ever raised.
- Cleary Gottlieb represented the Government of Greece in restructuring over €200 billion of Greek Government Bonds—the largest sovereign debt restructuring in history.
- Americas Law Firm of the Year, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2020, and 2021—IFLR Americas Awards
- Antitrust Firm of the Year and White-Collar Crime/Investigations Firm of the Year, 2021—Benchmark Litigation U.S. Awards
- Top 25 Firm for Associate Satisfaction, Career Opportunities, Pro Bono, and DE&I, 2021— Chambers Associate
- Impact Fund of the Year (The Nature Conservancy’s Cumberland Forest Project), 2020—Environmental Finance’s Sustainable Investment Awards
Why Work Here
Cleary Gottlieb was founded by prominent lawyers committed to excellence in the practice of law, while maintaining the highest ethical standards and diversity and collegiality in its lawyers. Our reasoning is not complicated. The best work product results from talented people working in a common enterprise, sharing their knowledge, time, and experience with colleagues. Only a handful of firms around the world are so confident of their core values that they are willing to share the rewards of their work in the way that we do. Generations of Cleary lawyers have proven there is no better way to foster excellence for ourselves and superior service for our clients.
One Liberty Plaza
New York, NY 10006
Phone: (212) 225-2000
Managing Partner: Michael A. Gerstenzang
Hiring Partners: Abena Mainoo (NY), Elaine Ewing (DC)
Total No. Attorneys (2021):
1K - 1.5K
No. of Partners Named 2021:
1st year: $205,000
2nd year: $215,000
3rd year: $240,000
4th year: $275,000
5th year: $305,000
6th year: $330,000
7th year: $350,000
8th year: $365,000
Summer Associate: $3,942.31
Donna M. Harris
Director of Legal Recruiting—U.S.
No. of U.S. Offices: 2
No. of International Offices: 14
New York, NY
Banking and Financial Institutions
Bankruptcy and Restructuring
Executive Compensation and ERISA
International Trade and Investment
Leveraged and Acquisition Finance
Litigation and Arbitration
Mergers, Acquisitions and Joint Ventures
Project Finance and Infrastructure
Public International Law
Sovereign Governments and International Institutions
White Collar Defense and Investigations