Sullivan & Cromwell LLP at a Glance

Uppers

  • “Very talented partners to learn from”
  • “The quality and scope of the work is untouchable”
  • “No billable requirement”

Downers

  • “Need to be constantly available”
  • “The hours can be long”
  • “The opacity of partnership prospects”

About Sullivan & Cromwell LLP

A BigLaw powerhouse, Sullivan & Cromwell has been ranked in the AmLaw 100 since the rankings began in the 1980s and is a regular player on The American Lawyer's elite A-List. The firm is well-thought of among the greenhorns as well as the old-timers-it consistently appears at the top of associate polls for the draw of big-money clients and its generous benefits.

S&C 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.

The Picture of Consistency

Sullivan & Cromwell has consistently steered the development of many of the world's corporate titans over the past 130-plus years. Founding fathers Algernon Sydney Sullivan and William Nelson Cromwell wasted no time in elevating the firm to elite status, advising J.P. Morgan-as in the man himself-during the creation of Edison General Electric in 1882 and later guiding key players in the formation of U.S. Steel and the financing of the Panama Canal.

During the 1950s, S&C's litigation group successfully defended five of the largest investment banking firms in the nation against antitrust charges filed by the federal government. Meanwhile, the general practice group dealt with the complexities of increasingly large public stock offerings, handling Ford Motor Co.'s $643 million IPO in 1956, the largest ever at that time. S&C reopened its Paris office-closed during World War II-in 1962 and opened a London office in 1972. The firm picked up its international pursuits again in the 1980s and hasn't slowed since, opening offices in Asia, Australia, and Europe and becoming one of the preeminent M&A shops on the planet along the way.

More recently, the firm drew on its financial services and restructuring prowess when it played a central role in dealing with the subprime and financial implosions in 2007 and 2008. Throughout the crisis, S&C maintained its compensation levels for associates and did not engage in a program of layoffs, defer incoming associate classes, or shorten its summer program. S&C seized upon the transactional wreckage of 2008 to build its reputation as, in the words of The American Lawyer, "the go-to firm for the financial services industry." After the storm cleared, its global reach served the firm well as it continued to build on its trans-Atlantic finance, restructuring, and M&A work.

The Best at Doing… Everything

S&C is known for its "generalist approach" to both professional development and client service. In contrast to the rotation systems found at many firms, S&C associates are exposed to a broad range of matters across subgroups, industries, and geographic location (a substantial number of S&C's clients are non-U.S. commercial enterprises and government entities). Associate development partners in each group ensure that junior lawyers and summer associates receive a balanced level of work as well as a mix of assignments that is customized to each individual's interests and goals.

This generalist training is a large part of why clients turn to S&C with their most complex problems-the firm's lawyers bring a broader perspective to cutting-edge legal issues than would more narrowly-trained practitioners. At the same time, the generalist approach prepares associates for success in any career objective they pursue, whether that be an S&C partner who can nimbly adapt his or her practice in response to changes in the market, a general counsel who is able to advise on a broad range of transactions and disputes, a government lawyer with experience in all types and stages of litigation, or a leadership position in one of the many industries in which the firm has expertise. Because of its comprehensive and holistic approach to training, the vast majority of the firm's lawyers 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.

And while discussing associates' aspirations outside of partnership might still be taboo at some firms, S&C's innovative Office of Career and Alumni Services and Career Development Plan encourage associates to take charge of their careers and pursue their individual career goals-whether they include becoming an S&C partner or putting S&C's training to use as a foundation for their next move forward. Open communication between junior and senior lawyers is emphasized: each associate is paired with a partner advisor who works with the associate to develop, review, and revise his or her goals, and all associates have access to confidential career counseling from their first day at the firm. (The firm has also had an upward reviews program in place for more than a decade, further demonstrating its commitment to open communication.)

The fundamental qualities of the firm's working environment-commitment to clients, leadership, professional development, broad experience, teamwork, and commitment to community-foster the development of lawyers that go on to succeed as S&C partners, in-house counsel, prosecutors, or in any other field they may choose. In fact, a key component of the firm's business plan is to develop not only the next class of S&C partners, but also future legal, business and government leaders worldwide, who-in a testament to the loyalty of lawyers who spend time at S&C-often go on to become clients of the firm.

IN THE NEWS

Ongoing
Life-long Ties
S&C maintains life-long ties with its lawyers, even if they leave the firm. S&C's global alumni network counts more than 3,000. The firm hosts events that convene lawyers with alumni worldwide. The Career and Alumni Resource Center is available to all S&C lawyers and has proven highly popular. It is available to them at any point in their careers, from their first day at the firm through retirement. The Resource Center's services include customized career counseling; facilitated access to alumni, clients, colleagues and friends; and placements with legal and non-legal employers.

2017
Firmed Up
The bulk of S&C's lawyers are home-grown, and rarely does the firm bring in associates or partners laterally. In 2017, though, the firm deepened its global antitrust and competition resources in view of the central role S&C plays in complex cross-border M&A and other deal-making. Renata Hesse, formerly head of the antitrust division at the Department of Justice, joined the firm's D.C. office, and Dr. Michael Rosenthal became a partner in Europe, opening the firm's Brussel's office. These moves garnered the attention of the financial press, including the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times.

October 2016
The New Pro Bono
The firm has partnered with Barclays to teach low-income micro-entrepreneurs how to run a small business. As for the broader pro bono program, the firm logged a total of 58,849 hours in 2016. In October, the firm received two Legal Aid Society Pro Bono Publico Awards, one for conducting an employment workshop to assist clients of the Legal Aid Society, the other for assisting Nepalese nationals applying for protected status following that country's earthquake. The firm was also honored by the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund for representing low-income transgender individuals seeking to legally change their names.

September - October 2016
Such a Deal
S&C steered last year's two biggest mergers. In October, client AT&T announced that it would acquire Time Warner, Inc., in a transaction valued at nearly $109 billion. In September, client Bayer agreed to acquire Monsanto Company, at an enterprise value of $66 billion. Finalized in February, S&C advised Borealis Infrastructure Management, CPPIB, and OTPP on their acquisition of the Chicago Skyway toll road. In January, client State Grid International Development Limited, a subsidiary of State Grid Corporation of China, completed its purchase of an almost 55 percent interest in CPFL Energia S.A. It was the largest Brazilian M&A deal announced in 2016 and one of the largest energy M&A matters in Latin American history.

June 2016
Courting Success
S&C handles bet-the-company litigation for some of the world's biggest companies. In June 2016, the firm led Volkswagen to a landmark settlement that removed franchise-threatening exposure relating to defeat devices involving diesel emissions. On a dizzyingly fast timetable, S&C guided the company to a $15.3 billion settlement with multiple federal agencies, 40-plus states, and lawyers representing 500,000 consumers. Separately, S&C obtained an $814.9 million arbitration award for Canadian-based BlackBerry Limited in a binding arbitration against Qualcomm Incorporated.  Blackberry's stock has risen 60 percent since the award.

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Sullivan & Cromwell LLP

125 Broad Street
New York, NY 10004
Phone: (212) 558-4000

Stats

  • Employer Type: Private
  • Chairman: Joseph C. Shenker
  • Senior Chairman: H. Rodgin Cohen
  • Hiring Partner: Sergio J. Galvis
  • Total No. Attorneys 2017: 831

  • Base Salary
    All U.S. 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: $305,000
    8th year: $325,000
    Summer associate: paid at the annual rate of $180,000 prorated according to the time spent at the firm and the days worked during the month, on a semi-monthly basis.

  • Summer Associate Offers
    120 out of 120 (2Ls) (2016)

  • Major Departments & Practices
    General Practice/Corporate Law
    Capital Markets, Leveraged Finance & Lending • Commercial Real Estate • Commodities, Futures & Derivatives • Executive Compensation & Benefits • Financial Services • Intellectual Property & Technology Transactions • Mergers & Acquisitions • Project Development & Finance • Restructuring
    Litigation
    Antitrust • Appellate • Arbitration • Bankruptcy • Congressional Investigations • Criminal Defense & Investigations • EU Competition • FCPA & Anti-Corruption • Financial Services Investigations & Litigation • Intellectual Property & Technology Litigation • International Trade & Investment/CFIUS • Labor & Employment • M&A Litigation • Securities Litigation • Whistleblower Litigation and Workplace Investigations
    Tax
    Estates & Personal
    Industry Sectors, Areas of Focus
    Commercial Real Estate • Consumer Financial Services • Consumer & Retail • Corporate Governance • Cybersecurity • Environmental • Financial Services • Healthcare and Life Sciences • Infrastructure • Natural Resources • Sports & Entertainment
    International
    Africa • Asia • Australia/New Zealand • Canada • Europe • Latin America • Middle East • United States

Major Office Locations

  • New York, NY (HQ) • Los Angeles, CA • Palo Alto, CA • Washington, DC Beijing • Brussels • Frankfurt • Hong Kong • London • Melbourne • Paris • Sydney • Tokyo