Your Career at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
What sort of training is available to associates?
At Cleary Gottlieb, our goal is to develop lawyers who are extremely knowledgeable and well-rounded professionals. We therefore train our lawyers to be intellectually nimble and to take a “big picture” approach to projects. We provide both practical, comprehensive training programs, as well as on-the-job training under the guidance of senior lawyers.
As a new associate, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in our year-long formal program that presents substantive business, legal and financial concepts in the context of the transactions and litigation matters you will be facing daily. These seminars and workshops cover just about every aspect of the work we do and will also help you master the essential, practical skills of writing, negotiating, drafting contracts, examining witnesses and appearing in court.
We supplement this with our in-house continuing legal education program for lawyers of all levels of seniority, including practice group luncheon presentations and informal get-togethers of specialists from different areas. Associates also regularly attend outside seminars and other programs of their choice.
In addition, our Professional Development Group will help you gain the skills and experience you need to become an excellent senior lawyer and to achieve your career aspirations. The group consists of a team of professionals devoted solely to working with associates to promote their professional development in whatever direction they choose to take. We offer an innovative management training program that commences on your arrival and lasts throughout your years at the firm. Through your participation in this program, you will learn to manage multiple and complex matters and to mentor, motivate and train more junior colleagues. You will also have formal access to our director of professional development to whom you can look for additional career guidance and balanced feedback on professional development issues.
Above all, Cleary Gottlieb is a firm where lawyers at all levels talk to each other frequently and freely, so working and training go hand-in-hand.
What sort of career guidance and development is offered to associates?
Our goal is to offer you open, candid communication about your career path. Through our professional development program you will learn about the range of internal and external opportunities available to you as your career progresses. You will also receive individualized guidance on how best to achieve your goals.
If you plan a long-term career at the firm, the professional development program will help you develop the skills necessary to become a strong candidate for senior attorney, counsel or partner.
We know that for many law school graduates, a law firm job can be a training ground, not a final career choice. That’s even been true for some Cleary Gottlieb partners, in a tradition dating back to Henry Friendly and Pierre Leval (Cleary Gottlieb partners elevated to the federal bench) and including currently the General Counsel and Senior Policy Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission, a successful private equity partner, and a professor or two.
If you decide not to stay with Cleary Gottlieb, our professional development program will also help you develop a resume of deals or cases designed to help you secure the right opportunity.
What sort of opportunities have former Cleary lawyers found outside the firm?
We have a network of stellar alumni and clients all over the world, many of whom regularly call on us to help fill positions in their organizations. Our alumni have gone on to join hedge funds, investment banks and corporations, to work for the government, teach at universities, and even pursue fields completely outside of the law. We count among our alumni:
- An Associate Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court
- General Counsel and Senior Policy Director of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
- Senior Restructuring Officer of the U.S. Treasury Department
- A former UN General Assembly President
- Co-CEO and Co-Chairman of IMAX
- A former U.S. Treasury Secretary
- More than 30 hedge fund and private equity executives
- Two senior partners at private equity firms
- Over 300 investment banking and finance executives
- General Counsels of Burger King, Pfizer, Capital One, Tom Ford Retail LLC, as well as several large hedge funds and international corporations
- Senior officers at Campbell Soup Company, Ann Taylor, MasterCard International, The New York Times, HBO, Google and 3M
- Vice President at the Ford Foundation
- A former Economics Minister of Belgium
- The head of Business and Legal Affairs at Paramount Pictures
- 146 law professors
- Six published fiction authors
- 26 United Nations, World Bank and International Monetary Fund officials
- Founders or current directors of not-for-profits such as Equality Now, Legal Outreach and Sanctuary for Families
We hope you will start your career at Cleary Gottlieb, whether your long-term goal is to be a law firm partner or the Secretary of the Treasury; to spend your career here or at a hedge fund or investment bank; to sit in a corner office or a street corner law clinic.
At Cleary Gottlieb, we are looking for lawyers capable of the highest levels of excellence in law, business, diplomacy and beyond. That’s why for more than 60 years, Cleary Gottlieb has been turning out not just fine lawyers, but fine leaders.
What benefits and perks do attorneys at your firm receive?
Cleary's benefits package is one of the most comprehensive in the industry. It's designed to benefit every member of the firm and target each individual's diverse needs.
To help accommodate each firm member's family, eligible dependents include a spouse or qualified domestic partner (same-sex or opposite-sex), unmarried dependent children, stepchildren and domestic partner's children.
In addition to paid holidays, vacation, 401k, and comprehensive health care coverage, Cleary provides additional benefits which include but are not limited to the following:
•Dental and Vision Care
•Short-and Long-Term Disability Coverage
•Medical and Dependant Care Pre-Tax Benefit Plan
•Pre-Tax Transportation Program
•Voluntary Insurance Plans
•Back-Up Childcare Program
•New Mother’s Room
•Employee Assistance Program
•Payment for Bar Fees and approved CLE courses
•Judicial Clerkship Bonus
•Moving Expense and Broker Fee Reimbursement (within 3 months of joining the firm)
Does the firm offer maternity leave?
Yes. Cleary has a childcare leave policy that provides for up to 18 weeks of paid leave.
What is the main focus of your firm's summer associate program?
With no formal departments or rotations for any of its lawyers, Cleary Gottlieb offers summer associates the opportunity to enjoy assignments in a variety of practice areas, or focus on a particular discipline, in a flexible and diverse environment.
Summer Associates get exposure to “real world” practice where summer associates take active and meaningful roles in ongoing matters.
Our summer program provides ample opportunity to expose participants to life in New York. A wide array of events are planned each year, ranging from partner-hosted dinners, to firmwide events.
What does diversity look like at Cleary Gottlieb?
As a firm, we place a premium on the unique perspectives of individuals from a range of backgrounds, beliefs and life experiences. We believe this tradition helps to keep the firm an open and exciting place to work. By prioritizing diversity and inclusion, we promote an environment where women and men of different races, national origins, religions and sexual orientations can practice law in a collegial and effective manner.
Our active Committee on Diversity Issues includes partners, counsel, associates and administrative professionals. The Committee focuses on three core areas: recruitment of law students and lawyers of diverse backgrounds, professional development of diverse lawyers, and promotion of an open and ongoing dialogue related to diversity topics. In its programming capacity, the Committee sponsors periodic lunches and firmwide panel discussions about diversity in the workplace, and invites outside speakers to address topics of interest.
Two additional standing committees further promote inclusion at the firm with particular emphasis on women’s issues. The Committee on Women’s Issues, comprised of women partners worldwide, ensures firm policies support the career development of women attorneys at the firm. The Committee engages in leadership discussions, comparative analysis, and collaboration in furtherance of its goals. These efforts are complimented by the New York Committee on Retention and Promotion of Women. Female lawyers of varying practice areas and levels of seniority, including associates, senior attorneys, counsel and partners are represented within the Committee. Programs hosted by the Committee center on topics and activities of interest to women at the firm, including periodic training sessions on career networking and professional development skills, networking receptions with female clients, and lunch discussions with a variety of speakers, such as Clearly Gottlieb alumnae. Both Committees ultimately aim to foster a sense of community and maintain a support network for female lawyers at the firm.
Clearly Gottlieb is also an active participant in the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD), including the appointment of a firm LCLD Fellow. The LCLD Fellows Program is designed to connect high-potential attorneys from LCLD member law firms and law departments with an experience that will influence the Fellow’s career for years to come. Mark Leddy, the firm’s managing partner, is a council member with the LCLD.
In addition to spreading awareness within the firm, we also strive to promote diversity within our community. Since 1991, Cleary Gottlieb has participated in a business “partnership” with Washington Irving High School (WHIS), a New York City public school, to assist in revitalizing the NYC public system. The partnership allows the firm, as a whole, to participate in community service in an area where there is a dramatic need. Our lawyers and non-legal staff help prepare these students for college and for adult life by mentoring, tutoring and advising them. The firm also sponsors annual events to promote the various academic and cultural talents of these students.
Cleary Gottlieb consistently receives recognition for its commitment to diversity:
- The firm was recognized as a “Top Ten Law Firm” and a “Top Five Firm in Overall Diversity and Diversity for Minorities” in the 2011 Vault Guide to the Top 100 Law Firms
- Cleary Gottlieb was ranked #6 in The American Lawyer’s 2010 “Diversity Scorecard.”
- The firm was named a “Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality” in the Human Rights Campaign’s 2011 “Corporate Equality Index.”
At which schools does the firm participate in on-campus recruiting?
At Cleary Gottlieb, we actively interview at law school campuses throughout the United States and engage in a dynamic selection process that allows us to attract future lawyers who may have a successful and rewarding experience at the firm.
Cleary's current OCI targets include the following:
Boston College & Boston University NY Job Fair
Cornell NY Job Fair
Midwest California Interview Program
New York Law
Tulane / Vanderbilt / Washington University NY Job Fair
How would you describe Cleary Gottlieb’s culture?
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP was founded by prominent lawyers committed to excellence in the practice of law, while maintaining the highest ethical standards and diversity and individuality in its lawyers.
Consistent with the vision of our founders, Cleary Gottlieb is committed to openness, diversity, individuality and collegiality. The outstanding talent and individual interests of our lawyers are the essence of the firm. In recruiting new lawyers, we target women and men of all races and nationalities who possess superior intellectual capability, share the firm’s vision and values, and have the initiative and potential to become our future partners.
We rely on all of our lawyers to collectively create the best client work product. From the beginning, our associates are part of a collaborative endeavor and are expected to solve problems—not just take directions. New associates work in teams with our more experienced lawyers and are given substantive assignments and significant responsibility right away.
When you have questions, you’ll find lawyers at all levels of seniority who are ready to guide you, whether or not they are assigned to your matter. This collegiality is a cornerstone of our culture at Cleary Gottlieb. It guides everything from whom we hire to our “lock-step” compensation system.
Cleary Gottlieb lawyers, not only at the associate level, but also at the partner level, are compensated based solely on seniority. Hours billed and the amount of business generated have no effect on any Cleary Gottlieb lawyer’s compensation; lawyers are rewarded just as much for helping their colleagues as they are for helping themselves.
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 Gottlieb lawyers have proven there is no better way to foster excellence.
It is a core conviction of the firm that the practice of law is a privilege, one that carries with it the responsibility to apply our talents for the benefit of less privileged individuals and communities. As such, the firm dedicates a substantial amount of time and resources to pro bono legal work and other community activities.