2021 Vault Rankings
At a Glance
“Top-tier work and clients.”
“Ability to experiment with different practice areas.”
“Working with smart, driven people.”
“Lack of partnership prospects.”
“The high demands of being a BigLaw lawyer.”
About Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
A BigLaw powerhouse, Sullivan & Cromwell has followed—if not created—the blueprint for legal success: It has grown internationally and in response to the increasing cross-border M&A, restructuring, and finance transactional demands of the biggest corporate clients in the world.
Kind of a Big Deal
Sullivan & Cromwell has consistently steered the development of many of the world’s corporate titans over the past 130-plus years. The firm founders, Algernon Sydney Sullivan and William Nelson, advised J.P. Morgan—as in the man himself—during the creation of Edison General Electric in 1882 and later guided key players in the formation of U.S. Steel and the financing of the Panama Canal. These lucrative foreign ventures caused the firm to be one of the first to expand internationally.
Today, S&C boasts 13 offices across nine countries and handles some of the biggest deals and litigations in the world. It is consistently among the top 10 firms in Vault’s General Corporate, M&A, Project Finance, Securities/Capital Markets, and Banking and Financial Services rankings. And its litigation work is just as highly regarded, especially with respect to securities litigation and white collar defense—two other ranking areas where the firm sits among the top 10.
In a world of specialization, S&C is known for its unique “generalist approach.” S&C associates work across subgroups, industries, and geographic locations to get a well-rounded experience. The firm feels its generalist approach makes for better partners, and the vast majority of those partners begin their legal careers with S&C—either directly out of law school or after clerkships or government service—with a very limited number of lateral hires. S&C also sends plenty of its “generalist” lawyers to work in-house at clients or other companies, to government service, and to other careers.
Associates are also armed with a career plan through which they focus on their skills, gaps in experience, and goals. If associates need additional guidance, they can turn to the firm’s internal career and alumni services office, which offers confidential career counseling whether they intend to stay at the firm or pursue a different career path.
Hitting the Books
S&C attorneys can be sure of one thing: The firm’s training is robust. It offers extensive internal training programs, and with the recent launch of S&C University—an online, on-demand, in-house viewing platform—lawyers can access recordings of these trainings from their computers. But in-house presentations are only the tip of the training iceberg. In 2019, the firm opened a Moot Courtroom in its New York City office that lawyers can use to prepare for upcoming trials or train. The courtroom can be modified to approximate a trial court, appellate court, or arbitration venue, and boasts technology such as an interactive markup display. Not all training at the firm is practice-based; the firm’s Women’s Leadership Lunch Series offers regular career development programming. Past lunch topics have included crisis management, resilience, strategies on responding to stress management, client development, and self-advocacy.
News & Awards
S&C helped client DraftKings, the leading daily fantasy sports and iGaming company, go public during the COVID-19 pandemic by handling a range of unprecedented issues across practice areas. The deal is at the forefront of the consumer, entertainment, and technology industries.
Dedication to pro bono work is one of S&C’s core values. The firm devoted over 53,000 hours to pro bono in 2019, assisting more than 350 clients. S&C is currently working on compassionate release and conditions of confinement cases, in light of COVID-19, for inmates in Broward County, FL, and elsewhere. S&C also represents a 16-year-old Guatemalan girl who was separated from her father at the U.S.-Mexico border, and after the firm took her case, was eventually reunited with her father and obtained Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.
Lawyers who join S&C pursue a broad range of career paths. This year, associates moved into positions at American Express, McKinsey, Blackstone, the DOJ, and The Department of the Treasury, among others. S&C’s innovative Career and Alumni Resource Center provides customized career counseling and job placements to current and former S&C associates and helps connect S&C lawyers with the firm’s robust alumni network, a global community of more than 3,500 members that includes some of the most influential leaders in law, business, and public service.
As part of the firm’s efforts to advance its diverse lawyers’ professional development, networking, and mentoring opportunities, in 2019, the firm created the Partner-Led Discussion series to further support members of our affinity networks: the Asian Associates Network, the LGBT Network, and the Network of Black & Latinx Lawyers. The discussions are a broad array of substantive practice and professional development topics, providing a casual environment for the firm's diverse lawyers to learn from our partners and share perspectives.
- S&C represents Volkswagen in the trials brought by consumers who opted out of the consumer class action settlements arising from diesel emissions issues, recently winning the first consumer trial.
- S&C represented AT&T in its $108.7 billion acquisition of Time Warner, recently launching streaming platform HBO Max.
- Before the Supreme Court, S&C challenged the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s implementation of certain aspects of the America Invents Act for Cuozzo Speed Technologies, the first company to have its patent invalidated under the review standards.
- S&C advised Joe Tsai, executive vice chairman and co-founder of Alibaba Group, in his acquisition of the Brooklyn Nets and the Barclays Center.
- “Litigator of the Year,” 2019: Sharon Nelles—The American Lawyer
- “Dealmaker of the Year,” 2020: Melissa Sawyer—The American Lawyer
- “Law Firm of the Year” and six “Practice Groups of the Year,” 2020: M&A, Banking, Capital Markets, Energy, Project Finance, and Securities—Law360
- “Best International Mentoring Program,” 2019—Euromoney Legal Media Group
- Sanctuary for Families’ Above & Beyond Pro Bono Achievement Award, 2020
Why Work Here
Listen to our conversation with the managing partner of our Litigation Group, Sharon Nelles. Milana Hogan, Chief Legal Talent Officer, interviews Sharon about why she chose S&C, the Firm's approach to associate development and mentoring, her role as head of the Litigation Group, and her advice for students as they navigate their way through the recruiting process.
125 Broad Street
New York, NY 10004
Phone: (212) 558-4000
Chair: Joseph C. Shenker
Senior Chair: H. Rodgin Cohen
Hiring Partner: Sergio J. Galvis
Total No. Attorneys 2020:
750 - 1K
No. of Partners Named 2020:
1st year: $190,000
2nd year: $200,000
3rd year: $220,000
4th year: $255,000
5th year: $280,000
6th year: $305,000
7th year: $325,000
8th year: $340,000
Summer Associate: $7,916.67/semi-monthly
Milana L. Hogan
Chief Legal Talent Officer
No. of U.S. Offices: 4
No. of International Offices: 9
Los Angeles, CA
New York, NY (HQ)
Palo Alto, CA
Bankruptcy & Restructuring
Capital Markets, Leveraged Finance & Lending
Commercial Real Estate
Commodities, Futures & Derivatives
Criminal Defense & Investigations
Estates & Personal
Executive Compensation & Benefits
FCPA & Anti-Corruption
Intellectual Property & Technology
Labor & Employment
Mergers & Acquisitions
Project Development & Finance
*See firm website for complete list of practice areas and industries.