Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP at a Glance


  • “Brilliant and interesting colleagues”
  • “Minimal face-time requirements”
  • “Caliber of work”


  • “Difficult to make partner”
  • “Intense hours”
  • “The unpredictability”

About Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP

Cleary Gottlieb is a preeminent 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 business world, Cleary has built out litigation capabilities to rival their corporate brethren. With a wide breadth of practice areas, Cleary attorneys develop cutting-edge skills, work on novel legal challenges, and launch careers that can go to the top of firm life or out into corporate and government work.

Globetrotting Trendsetter

Founded in 1946 by four former partners in 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's first new client was singer/actor Bing Crosby, who was being sued by Kraft over a contractual dispute related to a Kraft-sponsored TV show.

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.

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, Iraq in its $1 billion debt offering, and the Province of Buenos Aires in its $750 million bond offering. Other sovereign government clients have included Greece, Egypt, Korea, Malaysia, and Puerto Rico. Internationally the firm has acted as M&A and global antitrust counsel to Essilor in its approximately €46 billion combination with Luxottica and counseled SABMiller in its historic $108 billion merger with multinational brewing company AB InBev. Cleary is also advising the Mexican Ministry of Communications and Transportation in the financing for the construction of the new Mexico City International Airport and representing the Brazilian state-controlled oil company Petrobras in its historic securities litigation arising out of Operation Carwash, one of the largest corruption scandals in Brazil's history.

Home Sweet Home

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 The Dow Chemical Company on the antitrust aspects of its $130 billion merger of equals with DuPont, the third-largest transaction of all time. The firm is representing both The Walt Disney Company and 21st Century Fox on antitrust matters related to Disney's $52.4 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox, and is acting as antitrust counsel to T-Mobile US and Deutsche Telekom in T-Mobile US's merger with Sprint Corporation. On the litigation front, Cleary's New York and Washington, DC-based team 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 and is counsel to Robert Bosch GmbH and Robert Bosch LLC in criminal and regulatory investigations. Cleary also helped to secure a major victory on behalf of over two dozen underwriter clients at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Impressive on a Resumé 

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 boasts among its ranks former federal prosecutors, former Deputy Assistant Attorneys General of the DOJ Antitrust Division, former FDIC General Counsel, former SEC General Counsel, and a former Chief Litigation Counsel of the SEC's Enforcement Division.


June 2018

Cleary Gottlieb represents Goldman Sachs in connection with regulatory, documentation, netting, and commercial law matters involving cryptocurrency transactions.

April 2018

Cleary Gottlieb is acting as antitrust counsel to T-Mobile US and Deutsche Telekom in connection with T-Mobile US's merger with Sprint Corporation. The combined company, which will be named T-Mobile and led by T-Mobile US CEO John Legere, will have an enterprise value of approximately $146 billion. The transaction was announced on April 29, 2018, and is expected to close following the fulfillment of regulatory and other closing requirements.

December 2017

Cleary Gottlieb served as international counsel to the bondholders in the $20 billion restructuring of Brazilian Telecommunications company Oi S.A.-the largest corporate restructuring in the history of Latin America (and potentially any emerging market), and the first truly public Brazilian company to go through judicial restructuring since Brazil reformed its insolvency laws in 2005. The size and complexity of Oi's restructuring resulted in a number of interesting and precedent-setting aspects, and has been extensively litigated in Brazil, the Netherlands, and New York.

June 2017

Cleary Gottlieb helped to secure a major victory on behalf of over two dozen underwriter clients at the U.S. Supreme Court in California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) v. ANZ Securities Inc. et al. The Court upheld a Second Circuit decision that the class action tolling rule does not apply to the statute of repose established in the Securities Act of 1933 - a landmark decision that affirms the limits of the liability period for securities issuers and underwriters, and extinguishes actions filed after repose periods expire. The decision was the culmination of a long-running case stemming from Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy.

May 2017

Cleary Gottlieb advised KKR in the formation of its $9.3 billion flagship Asian fund, KKR Asian Fund III, which represents the largest Asia-focused fund ever raised by a private equity firm and was completed in May 2017.

April 2017

Cleary Gottlieb, along with The Bronx Defenders, is representing three New Yorkers who have filed a class action against the City of New York and the New York Police Department for illegally using and sharing information from sealed arrest records in defiance of long-standing privacy laws. The lawsuit has been reported on by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, New York Law Journal, and other outlets.

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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: Elizabeth Lenas (New York); Michael A. Mazzuchi (Washington, DC)
  • Total No. Attorneys 2018: 1,316

  • Base Salary

    All Offices
    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: $3,654/week (M&A)

  • Summer Associate Offers
    108 out of 108 (2Ls) (2018)

  • 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