Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP at a Glance


  • “The people here are awesome”
  • “Lock-stop compensation”
  • “The work is interesting, challenging, and substantive”


  • “The hours can be very long”
  • “Sky-high expectations”
  • “Diversity dwindles with seniority”

About Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP

With offices around the globe, one cannot deny Cleary Gottlieb's international scope. But don't call it a U.S. firm with overseas offices-this is an "integrated global partnership." The firm opened its first international office in 1949 and has awarded partnerships to lawyers in foreign offices from the very beginning. Still, no matter how far the firm roams, Wall Street will always be home.

Première Position

Founded in 1946 by four former partners from the Wall Street firm Root Clark Buckner and Ballantine, Cleary Gottlieb is remarkable for its prescient, early foray into Europe. Expanding beyond its New York and DC offices, the firm set up shop in Paris in 1949, making the strategic choice to hire local lawyers who were partially trained in the United States. The decision to award these foreign lawyers equal partnership gave Cleary a unique advantage in terms of its international presence.

With the formation of the European Community in 1967, the firm was well-situated-having anticipated the eventual economic alignment, it opened a Brussels office in 1960. The firm would then play a leading role in the burgeoning Eurodollar markets. A London outpost followed in 1971, and the firm added English law capabilities in 1997. Offices in Frankfurt, Moscow, Rome, Milan, and Cologne were established between 1991 and 2004. As to Asia, the firm has had an office in Hong Kong since 1980, which was bolstered by the firm's launch of its Hong Kong law practice in 2011. In 2006, the firm opened a second Chinese office in Beijing, and in 2012, the firm's Asia presence expanded further with the opening of an office in Seoul, Korea. A longstanding Latin American practice was supplemented by a physical presence in 2009, when Cleary opened an office in Buenos Aires, followed by the launch of its São Paulo office in 2011. Also in 2012, the firm opened an office in Abu Dhabi, enabling it to better serve clients based in the Middle East as well as those who have interests in the region.

Cleary has continued to be involved in high-profile corporate matters close to home and abroad, such as in Actavis' $70.5 billion white knight acquisition of Allergan, and Medtronic in its $42.9 billion acquisition of global healthcare products company Covidien. The firm also represented SABMiller in its historic $108 billion merger with multinational brewing company AB InBev, and advised The Dow Chemical Company on the antitrust aspects of its $130 billion merger of equals with DuPont. On the litigation and arbitration fronts, clients routinely turn to Cleary to handle high-stakes matters and white-collar enforcement matters. For example, Cleary successfully represented The Arab Republic of Egypt in an ICSID arbitration under the Spain-Egypt bilateral investment treaty arising out of the alleged suspension of gas supplies by the government to a liquefied natural gas plant operated by Unión Fenosa Gas in Egypt. Cleary also successfully secured the dismissal of claims against the Hellenic Republic in an ICSID arbitration initiated by the Slovak bank, Poštová banka, and its former Cypriot shareholder under the bilateral investment treaties between the Hellenic Republic and the Slovak Republic and Cyprus. Cleary's New York and Washington, D.C.-based litigators continue to advise major financial institutions' investigations into potential manipulation of LIBOR and trading practices in the global foreign exchange market. The firm also regularly represents clients in monopolization and conspiracy cases, including recent victories for Keurig, Gilead Sciences, Teladoc, Travelocity, Kawasaki, and publishers Hachette Livre and HarperCollins.

Home and Away

Cleary Gottlieb advises on high-profile matters not only in the U.S. but around the world. Away from home, the firm advised The Mexican Ministry of Communications and Transportation, the agency of the Mexican government in charge of overseeing the management, operations and development of Mexico's airports, in the first stage of financing for the construction and development of Mexico City's international airport. Once completed, the new airport will be the largest in Latin America and serve as a regional hub. In Europe, the firm represents Franco-Belgian financial institution Dexia in its dismantling plan-the largest, most complex wind-down of any European financial institution and one that has major systemic implications for the Eurozone. In Africa, the firm advised the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire in relation to a CFA 150 billion debut sovereign Sukuk offering.

In the U.S., the firm is representing multiple clients affected by the Trump administration's recent immigration order that has garnered significant media attention. On the day the order was issued, more than 100 Cleary lawyers in New York and Washington, D.C. mobilized to airports along with nonprofit legal services organizations and lawyers nationwide to assist those affected by the executive order travel ban. Among other successes, Cleary's pro bono team blocked the removal of a legal U.S. citizen and mother of four from Ecuador.

Worldwide Wonder

The firm has been actively engaged in Latin America work for more than 50 years. With more than 30 partners or counsel and approximately 90 associates engaged in the practice, Cleary Gottlieb dedicates significant resources to its Latin America practice and has a broad and deep talent base in this area. Lawyers in the practice are spread between New York, São Paulo, and Buenos Aires. The firm is a perennial leader in the region, advising on some of the largest financings, restructurings and offerings, including the $16.5 billion bond offering for the Republic of Argentina and the $750 million bond offering for long-time client the Province of Buenos Aires.

With almost 40 years of experience in Asia, Cleary has a longer history in the region than almost any other international law firm and has had a vibrant Korea practice for more than two decades. With over 30 lawyers worldwide fluent in Korean, the firm offers clients a talented and deep team of native Korean-speaking U.S. lawyers. Lawyers in the firm's larger Asia practice are based in Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul, London, and New York. The firm represented China Modern Dairy Holdings Ltd., the largest dairy farming company in China, on its approximately HK$6.4 billion offering, and has served as counsel in securities offerings of Korean issuers, including The Republic of Korea and the Korea Development Bank, since the early 1990s.

Moreover, Cleary has been active in the Middle East for several decades and has an unparalleled presence there, advising both corporate and sovereign clients in many of the most important transactions in the region. The Abu Dhabi office is fully integrated with the firm's Middle East practice, which comprises approximately 20 partners and counsel located in London, Paris, New York, and Milan, in addition to Abu Dhabi. In January of 2017, the firm represented the Republic of Iraq in its $1 billion debt offering-the sovereign's first financing in international capital markets.

Feeling Perk-y

Cleary Gottlieb is all about benefits. The firm not only meets the market when it comes to parental leave, but it also offers flexible work arrangements and formally permits associates to telecommute two days a month (those working at the firm less than one year may choose to work from home one day per month). Tangible non-hours related perks include an office of professional development career counseling program; Cleary Core Curriculum: a formal soft skills training series, which consists of management, negotiation, business development, communication, feedback, and a hands-on mini MBA program designed to give associates basic fluency on a range of business and financial topics; regular practice group training sessions; mentoring courses; and regularly scheduled "free" informational lunches that allow associates to be updated on a range of firm affairs.


Rates Rep

Cleary Gottlieb is representing several major financial institutions in investigations by authorities in the U.S., Europe, and Asia concerning Foreign Exchange (FX) trading, and LIBOR, ISDAFIX and other benchmark rates.

May 2017
By the e-Book

Cleary Gottlieb represented Hachette Livre and HarperCollins in the European Commission's investigation into Amazon's alleged anti-competitive "most-favored-nation" (MFN) pricing in the distribution of electronic books. The EC investigated the so-called MFN clauses included in Amazon's contracts with publishers, which required publishers to offer Amazon terms and conditions similar to or better than those offered to its competitors.

Big Pro Bono Win

Cleary Gottlieb represented pro bono clients Jane Does 1 and 2 in a $1.2 million settlement with the City of New York and a favorable settlement with Correction Officer Benny Santiago. Each client was arrested, could not afford bail, and was accordingly detained at different times over the course of a multi-year period at the Rose M. Singer Center, the all-women jail on Rikers Island. Each contended that, while confined, they were repeatedly raped by Santiago.

January 2017
Oh, I See

Cleary Gottlieb represented Essilor in its proposed €50 billion merger with Luxottica, creating an integrated player dedicated to visual health, operating across all segments of the eyewear industry. The combined entity would have more than 140,000 employees and sales in more than 150 countries, operating global brands such as Ray-Ban, Oakley, Pearle Vision, Sunglass Hut, and LensCrafters.

Big Debt

Cleary Gottlieb represented Citigroup in a series of total loss-absorbing capacity (TLAC) debt offerings worth $11.25 billion. The first three concurrent offerings in this series represented the first offering of senior debt by a U.S. global systemically important bank holding company to meet these new requirements, which are designed to halt rapid losses in the event of a financial crisis.

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Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP

One Liberty Plaza
New York, NY 10006
Phone: (212) 225-2000


  • Employer Type: Private
  • Managing Partner: Michael A.Gerstenzang
  • Hiring Partners: Lisa M. Schweitzer (New York); Michael A. Mazzuchi (Washington, DC)
  • Total No. Attorneys 2017: 1,297

  • Base Salary

    All Offices
    1st year: $180,000
    2nd year: $190,000
    3rd year: $210,000
    4th year: $235,000
    5th year: $260,000
    6th year: $280,000
    7th year: $300,000
    8th year: $315,000
    Summer associate: $3,462/week

  • Summer Associate Offers
    118 out of 118 (2Ls) (2016)

  • Major Departments & Practices
    Antitrust • Banking and Financial Institutions • Bankruptcy and Restructuring • Capital Markets • Corporate Governance • Derivatives • Energy • Environmental Law • Executive Compensation and ERISA • Intellectual Property • International Trade and Investment • Leveraged and Acquisition Finance • Litigation and Arbitration • Mergers, Acquisitions and Joint Ventures • Private Clients • Private Equity • Privatizations • Project Finance and Infrastructure • Public International Law • Real Estate • Sovereign Governments and International Institutions • Structured Finance • Tax • White-Collar Defense and Investigations

Major Office Locations

  • New York • Washington, DC Abu Dhabi • Beijing • Brussels • Buenos Aires • Cologne • Frankfurt • Hong Kong • London • Milan • Moscow • Paris • Rome • São Paulo • Seoul