2020 Vault Rankings
- Pro Bono#11
At a Glance
“The lack of billable hour requirement and face time requirements make life a lot easier than it might otherwise be.”
“The high-level work and elite clientele.”
“The people are kind, supportive and genuinely take the time to make you a better lawyer and professional."
“The hours are tough."
“Lack of communication and transparency.”
“Unpredictability of the work schedule.”
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 that have strengthened and expanded the full suite of resources it offers clients.
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 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.
Foreign Governments on Speed Dial
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, and Indonesia in its $3 billion bond offering. Other sovereign government clients have included Chile, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Greece, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Uruguay. Cleary has also represented 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
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. On the litigation front, Cleary continues 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.
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’s Antitrust Division, former FDIC General Counsel, former SEC General Counsel, and a former Chief Litigation Counsel of the SEC’s Enforcement Division.
News & Awards
Cleary represented Pinterest in connection with its IPO and dual-class recapitalization. In addition, the firm is the lead outside counsel for the company on all matters relating to its new dual-class capital structure, governance arrangements, equity award plan, and other corporate law and employee benefits matters in connection with the transition to becoming a public company.
Cleary guided both The Disney Company (in Europe) and 21st Century Fox (in the U.S.) in Disney’s $71.3 billion acquisition of Fox assets, one of the largest media transactions of all time, and a highly complex merger control matter, involving competing bids from Disney and Comcast for Fox.
Cleary 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 the first truly public Brazilian company to go through judicial restructuring since Brazil reformed its insolvency laws in 2005. In January 2019, Cleary led the successful completion of the final major stage in Oi S.A.’s judicial reorganization: the issuance of 3.23 million new common shares in a fully backstopped rights offering for R$4 billion ($1.06 billion). (Restructuring Deal of the Year, IFLR Americas Awards and Latin Lawyer, 2019; Global Finance Deal of the Year, The American Lawyer, 2018)
Cleary represented National Amusements, Inc., NAI Entertainment Holdings LLC, and Shari and Sumner Redstone in the largest corporate control battle in recent memory, securing a major settlement in a high-profile litigation in the Delaware Court of Chancery against CBS and the CBS Board of Directors in relation to the potential merger between CBS and Viacom. (Impact Case of the Year, Benchmark Litigation, 2019)
- GiVi Holding (the Versace Family holding company of Gianni Versace S.p.A.), Donatella Versace, and Versace’s CEO Jonathan Akeroyd in the sale of Versace to Michael Kors for approximately $2.13 billion.
- General Mills, the third-largest natural and organic food producer in the U.S., in its approximately $8 billion acquisition of Blue Buffalo Pet Products.
- The Government of Greece in restructuring over €200 billion of Greek Government Bonds—the largest sovereign debt restructuring in history.
- Pro bono client Shawn Williams in securing vacatur of a second-degree murder conviction—Shawn was wrongfully convicted and had served more than 20 years in prison.
- Antitrust Firm of the Year, 2019 (Benchmark Litigation)
- Top 10 in the Diversity Scorecard, 2018 and 2019 (The American Lawyer)
- Asset Management, International Arbitration, Real Estate, and Securities Practice Groups of the Year, 2018 (Law360)
- Top Global Firm, Law360’s “Global 20” List of Preeminent Global Law Firms, 2011–2018 (Every year since the list’s inception)
- Top 20 Firm, The American Lawyer’s Pro Bono Rankings, 2018
Why Work Here
Counsel to Over 50 Sovereigns
Ranked No. 2 for Global Announced M&A by Value (Mergermarket, 2017)
Largest Ever Sovereign Debt Restructuring
Largest Ever Leveraged Buyout
Largest Ever Real Estate Transaction
Largest Ever Patent Portfolio Sale
Most Prominent Antitrust Case of the Decade
Represented Over 50 Financial Institutions in Financial Crisis-Related Litigation
One Liberty Plaza
New York, NY 10006
Phone: (212) 225-2000
Managing Partner: Michael A. Gerstenzang
Hiring Partners: Elizabeth Lenas (New York); Elaine Ewing (DC)
Total No. Attorneys 2019:
1K - 1.5K
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)
No. of Summer Associates:
112 total (108 2Ls; 4 1Ls) (2018)
Banking and Financial Institutions
Bankruptcy and Restructuring
Executive Compensation and ERISA
International Trade and Investment
Leveraged and Acquisition Finance
Litigation and Arbitration
Mergers, Acquisitions and Joint Ventures
Project Finance and Infrastructure
Public International Law
Sovereign Governments and International Institutions
White-Collar Defense and Investigations
*See firm website for additional departments and specific practice areas and industries