2019 Vault Rankings
“Lots of responsibility and client contact early”
“No annual billable requirement”
“Not a lot of transparency about partnership decisions”
“The need to be constantly available”
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, all under the same moniker as it had at its founding by Algernon Sydney Sullivan and William Nelson Cromwell. The firm founders advised J.P. Morgan—as in the man himself—during the creation of Edison General Electric in 1882 and later guided key players in the formation of U.S. Steel and the financing of the Panama Canal. These lucrative foreign ventures caused the firm to be one of the first to expand internationally, opening offices in places like Paris, Berlin, and Buenos Aires in the first half of the 20th century.
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 top global M&A shops 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 the latest financial crisis. S&C advised on the sale of Bear Stearns to JPMorgan Chase and represented no less than seven financial firms as the crisis unfolded. S&C advised Fannie Mae during its government takeover; helped Barclays PLC acquire Lehman Brothers’ North American banking and capital markets assets; represented AIG during its federal bailout; guided both Goldman Sachs and American Express as they morphed from investment banks into bank holding companies; walked JPMorgan through its $1.9 billion purchase of a bankrupt Washington Mutual; represented Wachovia in its merger with Wells Fargo; and took UBS through one of the largest-ever global rights offerings.
In a world of specialization, S&C is known for its “generalist approach” to both professional development and client service. S&C associates work across subgroups, industries, and geographic locations to get a well-rounded experience. The firm feels its generalist approach makes for better partners, and the vast majority of those partners 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. S&C also sends plenty of its “generalist” lawyers to work in-house at clients or other companies, to government service, and other careers. Associates love its career and alumni service office, which offers confidential career counseling whether they intend to stay at the firm or pursue a different career path and brings former associates back to the firm to discuss how and when they decided to make the transition away from the firm.
IN THE NEWS
When you join S&C, you become a lifetime member of its alumni network, a community of more than 3,500 members. The network includes some of the world’s most influential leaders in law, business, and public service, in more than 30 industries and 70 countries. S&C’s innovative Career and Alumni Resource Center is available to all S&C lawyers from their first day at the firm through retirement—whether they pursue partnership or another path. The Resource Center provides customized career counseling; facilitated access to alumni, clients, colleagues, and friends; job placements with a broad range of employers; and networking opportunities.
If you want to do criminal defense work, look no further than S&C’s Criminal Defense and Investigations Group. The group has played a leading role in virtually every major law enforcement initiative in the past 20 years and includes former federal and state prosecutors who have collectively handled more than 100 criminal trials. Currently, through a firestorm of attention, S&C is guiding Wells Fargo in an array of government probes and civil actions related to its Community Bank, coordinating the bank’s response to investigations by the DOJ, SEC, and state Attorneys General and defending the client in civil matters.
S&C elected eight new partners. Like nearly all S&C lawyers, they developed their careers at the firm, receiving the best possible training, mentoring, and support. The new leaders stand at the center of important matters shaping the world, advising clients in a range of practice areas, including financial services, litigation, real estate, capital markets, and intellectual property. “Everyone at the firm has been hugely supportive to let me craft my career,” says Annie Ostrager, a new partner in litigation. The new partners are: Mehdi Ansari, Andrew Finn, Ching-Yang Lin, Annie Ostrager, Stephen Salley, Pavan Surapaneni, Benjamin Weiner, and Isaac Wheeler.
Want to give back? S&C is the ultimate platform to make a difference. The firm’s pro bono practice is led by a dedicated pro bono counsel, Jessica Klein, who started at the firm as a summer associate. Jessica provides pro bono training and support to new lawyers as they take on pro bono matters and make meaningful contributions on important cases. In January, Jessica and a team of lawyers filed a lawsuit on behalf of two gay couples whose children were denied U.S. citizenship, and that is just one of a wide range of matters the firm took on this year.
Front-page deals provide a front-row seat to being the best lawyer you can possibly be. Few recent deals have made a bigger splash than Amazon buying Whole Foods, which could change “the future of shopping,” says The Atlantic. S&C associates worked side by side with partners on the deal, advising Amazon, as the tech giant develops its first physical retail presence. Other big deals S&C handled last year include the transaction that bought George Clooney’s tequila company, Casamigos, and AT&T’s $108.7 billion acquisition of Time Warner.
125 Broad Street
New York, NY 10004
Phone: (212) 558-4000
Employer Type: Private
Chairman: Joseph C. Shenker
Senior Chairman: H. Rodgin Cohen
Hiring Partner: Sergio J. Galvis
Total No. Attorneys 2018: 857
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: $7,916.67 semi-monthly
104 out of 104 (2Ls) (2017)
New York, NY (HQ)
Los Angeles, CA
Palo Alto, CA
General Practice/Corporate Law
Capital Markets, Leveraged Finance & Lending
Commercial Real Estate
Commodities, Futures & Derivatives
Executive Compensation & Benefits
Intellectual Property & Technology Transactions
Mergers & Acquisitions
Project Development & Finance
Criminal Defense & Investigations
FCPA & Anti-Corruption
Financial Services Investigations & Litigation
Intellectual Property & Technology Litigation
International Trade & Investment/CFIUS
Labor & Employment
Whistleblower Litigation and Workplace Investigations
Estates & Personal