2021 Vault Rankings
- Firm Culture#12
- Pro Bono#19
- Real Estate#22
At a Glance
“The flexibility for working hours and location.”
“The people and pro bono opportunities.”
“High quality work and great training.”
“Long and unpredictable hours.”
“Expectation of availability.”
“Lack of clarity about promotion prospects.”
About Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
Cleary Gottlieb is a leading 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 and corporate 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 prominent sovereign government clients have included Armenia, Barbados, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Greece, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, Togo, and Uruguay. Cleary has also represented the Puerto Rico Public-Private Partnerships Authority in a landmark agreement intended to transform Puerto Rico’s electric sector; the transaction represents a historic milestone in the Government of Puerto Rico’s objective of providing modern, affordable, resilient, and reliable power to the island, and will help serve as a driver of economic recovery and growth.
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 T-Mobile US and Deutsche Telekom in T-Mobile US’s $146 billion merger with Sprint Corporation, and The Dow Chemical Company in its $130 billion merger of equals with DuPont. On the litigation front, 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 against CBS and its board in relation to the merger between CBS and Viacom. 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 also 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, a former Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, and a former Chief Litigation Counsel of the SEC’s Enforcement Division.
Cleary takes seriously the health and well-being of its lawyers, professional staff, clients, prospective recruits and all who we interact with. Accordingly, we closely monitor and follow the guidance of individual law schools regarding the timing and potential virtual approach to the traditional “on campus” recruiting model. We also are consistently evaluating our internal plans and systems to best support a safe and positive experience for all who we interact with.
Our 2020 summer program was a fully virtual five-week platform that incorporated the hallmarks of a traditional Cleary summer program—substantive, high-caliber work; personal and professional development programming; and networking and mentorship opportunities. Summer associates were provided offers in connection with their completion of the program and compensated based on their original commitment summer program weeks.
Cleary remains committed to its clients. We continue to maintain appropriate staffing in all of our locations in order to provide essential business continuity, taking every measure to safeguard our team members; provide our personnel with tools and resources for effective remote work; apply the safest standards and best practices to our guidance on travel, visitor policies, and virtual events; and foster the collegial and supportive environment we value so highly when physically together.
News & Awards
Cleary represented Schibsted ASA, the majority shareholder of Adevinta ASA, in Adevinta’s $9.2 billion acquisition of eBay Classifieds Holdings Inc. from eBay Inc., creating a worldwide leading online classifieds company, with market presence in 20 countries and a total of 3 billion visits every month. Cleary is also acting as global antitrust counsel to Schibsted and Adevinta in the transaction.
The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Cumberland Forest Project, in which Cleary represented TNC pro bono, won Environmental Finance’s 2020 Sustainable Investment Awards “Impact Fund of the Year” for generating a positive social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. The project is one of TNC’s largest-ever conservation efforts in the eastern U.S., protecting 253,000 acres of forest across Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
Cleary joins the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund in lauding the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that transgender people cannot be fired for who they are. The ruling comes in three cases, one of which involves the late Aimee Stephens, who was fired from her job at a Michigan funeral home for being transgender. Cleary had filed a “friend of the court” brief in July 2019 in support of Aimee in her case before the Supreme Court.
Cleary “dominated” in Latin Lawyer’s league table for debt capital markets activity across Latin America for 2019, with the highest number of transactions and the highest combined value of any international law firm. In 2019, Cleary worked on 37 debt transactions and helped companies raise a combined $55 billion across Latin America.
- T-Mobile US in its $146 billion merger with Sprint, a historic and years-long process that included acting as lead antitrust counsel to T-Mobile and defending litigation brought jointly by multiple state AGs in an effort to block the merger.
- Brazilian state-controlled oil company Petrobras in its historic securities litigation in the U.S. arising out of the widely covered corruption scandal Operation Carwash.
- National Amusements Inc., the owner of approximately 80% of the voting stock of each of CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc., in the $30.5 billion merger of CBS and Viacom.
- The Government of Greece in restructuring over €200 billion of Greek Government Bonds—the largest sovereign debt restructuring in history.
- Americas Law Firm of the Year, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2020—International Financial Law Review
- Impact Cases of the Year (Google v. Android; Fiat Chrysler settlements; Sears Chapter 11), 2020—Benchmark Litigation
- International Arbitration Firm of the Year, 2020¾Benchmark Litigation
- Ranked No. 1 in the Top 25 “Global Elite,” 2020—Global Competition Review
- Bankruptcy, Competition, and Fund Formation Practice Groups of the Year, 2019¾Law360
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 (NY); Elaine Ewing (DC)
Total No. Attorneys 2020:
1K - 1.5K
No. of Partners Named 2020:
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
Donna M. Harris
Director of Legal Recruiting—U.S.
No. of U.S. Offices: 2
No. of International Offices: 14
New York, NY
Washington, DC I Abu Dhabi
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 complete list of practice areas and industries.