Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP

One Liberty Plaza
New York, NY 10006
Phone: (212) 225-2000

2000 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20006
Phone: (202) 974-1500

General Info


New York, NY, Washington, DC, Beijing, Brussels, Cologne, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, Milan, Moscow, Paris, Rome


Africa Practice
Antitrust and Competition
Banking & Financial Institutions
Bankruptcy & Restructuring
Capital Markets
Corporate Governance
Environmental Law
Executive Compensation and Employee Benefits
Intellectual Property
International Trade and Investment
Latin America Practice
Leveraged and Acquisition Finance
Litigation & Arbitration
Mergers, Acquisitions & Joint Ventures
Private Clients & Charitable Organizations
Private Equity
Pro Bono
Project Finance and Infrastructure
Real Estate
Sovereign Governments & International Institutions
Structured Finance
White-Collar Defense, Securities Enforcement and Internal Investigations


No. of attorneys: approximately 1100
No. of offices: 12
Summer associate offers (2009): 118 out of 119
Managing Partner: Mark A. Walker
Hiring Partners:

New York: Jorge U. Juantorena
Washington: Jeremy J. Calsyn

Vault's Scoop


·         “Dynamic international practice”
·         “The real deal”
·         “Coasting on past reputation”
·         “Not as quirky as they think they are”


All offices

1st year: $ 160,000
Summer associate: $3,077/week


New York

Donna M. Harris
Director of Legal Recruiting
Phone: (212) 225-3170
Fax: (212) 225-3159


Georgia Emery Gray
Director of Legal Personnel & Recruiting
Phone: (202) 974-1804
Fax: (202) 974-1999

Fun Facts

·          “Cleary has a surprisingly fun hazing ritual for the 1st year associates -- around the Christmas holiday season, the first year class is all inducted into the Elf Committee. The Elf Committee (which consists of only the first year class) is tasked with spreading holiday cheer among the staff, by raising money for gifts, selecting and purchasing gifts, wrapping those gifts, and delivering those gifts to each staff member of the firm. I chaired the Elf Committee in my first year, and it was one of the most rewarding experiences I've had at the firm. It made me extremely proud to work here”


·         “Partners are generally eager to mentor young lawyers”
·         “No face time requirement. Very laid-back--as long as your work product is perfect”
·          “Couldn't ask for a better group of people to work with”


·         “Hours can be unpredictable and demanding”
·         “Very close integration with foreign offices means working on many different time zones”
·         “The unreasonable clients who don't understand what lawyers really do, but that is the nature of being at a top corporate firm, so not unique to the firm”

Notable Perks

·         “Friday wine and cheese. Biweekly free Monday lunch. Lots of CLEs”
·         “Free gym membership to Equinox and other gyms! Lots of opportunity to work overseas is one of the biggest perks”
·         “Free language lessons”
·         “The firm is very supportive of working from home when necessary”

Associate Life Verdict -Interesting, gratifying ventures keep Cleary lawyers happy.  Accordingly, offices abound with good-natured candor, and after-work socialization is common among colleagues.


·         “I am slightly older and at times feel I can handle more responsibility than I'm given and be more integrated in my corporate teams. I don't always feel challenged. But usually I do.” -Junior associate
·         “The money makes it all worth it.” -Real Estate associate
·         “Having been at the firm many years, I feel fortunate to have found a firm that fits my personality and respects me as a person. While many firms do high quality work, rare is the firm that also values the human element and goes far to maintain the long-standing collegial and humane culture.” -New York associate
·         “I love the work and I love the people I work with. The only thing that keeps this from being the perfect job is the number of hours and the unpredictable schedule.” -Junior associate
·         “I find that the work I do at Cleary is very interesting and the partners and senior associates I work with are great mentors and colleagues. My only complaint is that as much as I like the work I do, I'd rather do a little less of it.” -Corporate associate

Firm Culture

·         “I couldn't ask for a more pleasant place to work. The people are, for the most part, genuinely friendly and take the time to make the work environment pleasant for others.” -New York associate
·         “It's a very friendly group of people. Many associates socialize outside of work.” -Corporate associate
·         “Politically, the firm is generally liberal and Democratic, but respectful and welcoming of all stripes. Professionally, the firm is conservative in its representation of clients. Lawyers do socialize together, but rarely on a mandated basis (although there are a few annual firm-wide social events). Lawyers who do socialize together usually do so by choice, forging their own friendships. We are not a fraternity atmosphere, and value diversity in experiences and respect individual hobbies and interests.” -Senior associate
·         “The litigation folks tend to be more liberal politically than the corporate folks, but that usually just leads to lively conversation at Friday ‘Wine & Cheese.’ The firm makes every attempt to foster a collegial attitude and generally succeeds.” -Litigator
·         “Lawyers tend to be very friendly and nice to one another, but it is not a fratty place at all. There is no pressure to socialize, though associates seem to generally have good friends within the firm.” -Junior associate

Associate/Partner Relations

·         “Everyone seems to get along quite well, from what I've observed. No trepidation or fear. Partners and associates interact comfortably and in a friendly matter both socially and professionally.” -Tax associate
·         “Partners are very collegial with associates. Each partner I work with has been interested in me as a person and has taken time to get to know me.” -Real Estate associate
·         “Cleary's reputation in this field is well-earned. Blatant associate abuse (other than hours worked, of course) by partners is almost unheard of and looked down upon by all. Lean staffing contributes to an atmosphere of respect.” -Junior associate
·         “I believe the partnership treats associates very well. In general, there is good communication regarding firm practices. Partners individually are pretty respectful to the associates. Of course, there are some exceptions.” -New York associate
·         “Partners are generally pretty nice here. Of course, there are always those that are more difficult to work with. But, on the whole, they are a good group.” -Washington D.C. associate

Office Space

·         “Not only is the firm luxurious, the views amazing and the art impressive, Cleary is undergoing renovations floor-by-floor this year and last year to make it even more modern and efficient.” -Junior associate
·         “Best law offices in NYC. Lush, newly renovated offices and 360-degree virtually unobstructed views of the city. Downtown space has its perks.” -New York associate
·         “Best office space in the city. Unfortunately, new associates are now required to double up (former policy was that all associates got their own offices.)” -Midlevel associate

Hours/Money Verdict -Hours are lengthy and erratic, but the pressures to fulfill them aren’t bureaucratic in origin -Cleary associates simply appreciate their projects and pay as much attention to them as they require.  Salaries and bonuses reward this dedication generously.


·         “Lots of hours, but generally respectful of weekends/holidays/vacations.” -Junior associate
·         “I work a lot. Everyone does, while there is no pressure for billables, we just want to provide the best work.” -Washington D.C. associate
·         “Almost no work on the weekends, not too many very late nights.” -Tax associate
·         “Hours are erratic, but this is the same anywhere.” -New York associate
·         “Really depends on the projects and partners, but generally much better than my friends at other law firms. Several partners have told me ‘it's already late; please feel free to leave, I can take care of the remaining’...or something like that. Very sweet.” -Junior associate


·         “The firm matches the NY market for peer firms like Cravath, S&C, etc.” -Senior associate
·         “Standard NY compensation. Compensation and bonuses are not tied to hours.” -Corporate associate
·         “The bonuses were cut two years in a row, but we got that ridiculous ‘special bonus’ the year before when times were good. If we get a proper bonus in 2010 I think we come out even.” -New York associate
·          “Cleary pays market rates. Sometimes I feel undercompensated for the amount of hours I work and the little control I have over my free time.” -Senior associate
·         “How anyone can complain about big law salaries and bonuses is beyond me. We are generally in the middle of the curve with pay.” -Corporate associate

Professional Development Verdict -Formal training is infrequent and slightly rigid, but not to worry -Cleary’s independent associates prefer the firm’s informal training methods, demeaning formalities as useless “handholding.”


·         “We don't do a ton of formal training, but have a lot of informal training. People more senior to you make abundantly clear that they're available to answer questions and there's a cultural expectation that you too should make time to answer questions to those junior to you (and encourage them to feel free to ask).” -Midlevel associate
·         “PLI membership means unlimited free CLE’s. We also have frequent CLE courses held in the office. There is no reason not to get all your credits.” -Real Estate associate
·         “Full range of well-planned CLEs and informal ‘pizza & beer’ capital market training sessions.” -Corporate associate
·         “Almost all training is informal. Aside from the regular lunch time CLE’s, all of our training comes on the job. I actually prefer it that way.” -New York associate
·         “The lack of formal training is one thing I like about Cleary. There's no handholding here; from day one, you need to think on your feet and learn to handle anything that comes your way.” -Intellectual Property associate

Diversity Verdict -In the often-homogenous world of BigLaw, Cleary stands as an extraordinary example of associate and partner diversity.  An emphasis on diversity permeates the recruiting process, and new hires can expect flexibility and sensitivity regarding their personal needs.


·         “I think Cleary's high regard for diversity has a snowball effect. It draws top candidates from diverse backgrounds and further strengthens that reputation.” -New York associate
·         “Cleary is very committed to promoting diversity both formally and informally.” -Junior associate
·         “Cleary is constantly looking for new and innovative approaches to diversity issues and takes pride in being a leader in this area.” -Real Estate associate
·         “Very diverse work environment.” -Junior associate
·         “Women openly discuss their intent to have children, without fear of losing work opportunities or being taken less seriously. Many of the senior women I work with have taken extensive maternity leaves and leave of absences, and maintained exceptional legal practices. I feel like the firm wants to make it possible to have both children and a rewarding career, and is willing to work with their employees to create workable solutions.” -New York associate

Overall Business Outlook Verdict -Cleary entered 2010 in pole position, with exceptional volumes of work, soaring associate morale, and the confidence to move forward with collected urgency.  Considering the fates of many competitors, prospects could hardly be better for the firm.

Overall Business Outlook

·         “Morale is high, and revenues are likely strong. Unlike most of our competitors, we haven't had any layoffs, stealth or otherwise. “ -Bankruptcy/Creditors' Rights associate
·         “Cleary's strength is in its diversity across practice areas. There is lots of work to go around, especially if you're willing to do some bankruptcy work.” -Junior litigator
·         “Cleary has done very well in this economic climate. The firm is very flexible about practice groups so it is necessary for attorneys to straddle the lines between practice groups. This prevents an attorney from feeling pigeon-holed into a practice group that might be slow at the moment.” -Real Estate associate
·         “I'm too lowly to know, but they say everything is good.” -Corporate associate


Become a Vault Gold Member or Log in on to read the entire Scoop.