2020 Vault Rankings
“Brilliant and interesting colleagues”
“Minimal face-time requirements”
“Caliber of work”
“Difficult to make partner”
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.
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.
IN THE NEWS
Cleary Gottlieb represents Goldman Sachs in connection with regulatory, documentation, netting, and commercial law matters involving cryptocurrency transactions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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); Michael A. Mazzuchi (Washington, DC)
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)
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