Known especially for its cross-border work, including representation of national governments, Cleary is among the most prestigious firms around. Intellectual curiosity and an amiable personality will go far in fitting in with the firm’s unique “Cleary Culture.” Cleary 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 both corporate and litigati...

Firm Stats


Total No. Attorneys (2021)

1K - 1.5K


No. of Partners Named (2021)



Featured Rankings

Vault Law 100


No. of 1st Year Associates Hired (2020)



No. of Summer Associates (2021)

102 total (98 2Ls; 4 1Ls)


Base Salary

All Offices

Vault Verdict

Good grades plus curiosity are the secrets to success in landing a position at Cleary. Interview questions often focus on substantive work experience, among other things. Lawyers at the firm are proud of the “Cleary Culture”—the firm has a social atmosphere that extends from the top to the staff. Mentorship is highly valued at the firm, and partners make themselves available to answer questions and check in on associates. This support helps with the high level of work available to associates even as juniors. The firm has grown more transparent in terms of performance and promotion, but associates still feel in the dark on firm decision-making and performance. Hours have piled up during the pandemic, especially in the Corporate group. Some associates feel work is not evenly distrib...

About the Firm


Cleary 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 both corporate and litigation capabilities that have strengthened and expanded the full suite of resources it offers clients.

Globetrotting Trendsetter

Founded in 1946 by four former partners of 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 domesti...

Associate Reviews

  • “In non-COVID times, Cleary is very social, with regular opportunities to engage with colleagues in both professional environments, such as CLEs and practice group office hours, and less formal environments, such as happy hours. During COVID, different practice groups have experimented with different ways of preserving this social and collegial environment.”
  • “Very social firm. Lots of love for the staff from assistants to mailroom. Big component of the culture is Friday night wine & cheese, which most people stop by for a few minutes (or a few hours) to catch up with coworkers. In terms of management culture, they are listening and open to change. Past year has seen more transparency into promotions process and hours.”
  • “A bit hard to say considering how I am remote (and have only ever been remote outside of my summer experience), but Cleary has done a great job integrating new attorneys. I know my team members well and feel comfortable speaking with them. Cleary has also done a good job of creating virtual events, be them virtual murder mystery nights, trivia nights, first-year meet and greet sessions, etc.”
  • “I socialized with associates from my summer class a lot—I'd say they are some of my closest friends in the city. Day to day, when we were summers in the office, we would often make plans for lunch and/or coffee with more senior associates, who I also still interact with. Cleary generally does not have a stuffy vibe (it's pretty laid back for a white shoe firm) but it's also not a huge party culture (apart from weekly Friday wine and cheese, which I can't wait to get back to the office for).”

Why Work Here

Cleary Gottlieb was founded by prominent lawyers committed to excellence in the practice of law, while maintaining the highest ethical standards and diversity and collegiality in its lawyers. Our reasoning is not complicated. The best work product results from talented people working in a common enterprise, sharing their knowledge, time, and experience with colleagues. Only a handful of firms around the world are so confident of their core values that they are willing to share the rewards of their work in the way that we do. Generations of Cleary lawyers have proven there is no better way to foster excellence for ourselves and superior service for our clients.

Diversity at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP

"Cleary Gottlieb is committed to cultivating an inclusive organizational culture, where the values, experiences and perspectives of our diverse professionals are not only celebrated, but reflected in the way we approach legal practice. Cleary talent management and diversity committees strategically identify ways to foster community within the firm among diverse lawyers and to increase communication between Cleary's leadership and the firm's diverse lawyers. This includes attorney development initiatives, curriculum training, speaker series,..."

Getting Hired Here

  • “Hiring process is focused on intellectual ability, leadership, client service orientation, and determination. [The] firm considers not just academic credentials but all types of prior work, educational, and personal experiences, as well as diversity in all its forms (racial, gender identity, socio-economic). Draw heavily from T14 schools. All lawyers are trained on how to assess candidates fairly and without bias for a candidates' similarity to one's own experience”
  • “Grades do matter, as does law school prestige. In a given class I would say 50-75% probably come from T6 schools. That said, Cleary places strong emphasis on finding candidates who are actively engaged in social and extracurricular life, intellectually curious outside of school/work, and often have some degree of interest in international affairs (as a firm with a large global footprint).”
  • “Honestly, the firm wants good grades and inquisitive minds. If you are collegial, curious and have good credentials then you are exactly who Cleary is looking for. Laid back attitudes but strong work ethic will go far here.”
  • “The firm has training for interviewing candidates. Harvard is a particular feeder school.”

Practice Area Q&A’s

Elaine Ewing


Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
Lina Bensman


Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
Elizabeth Lenas


Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
Kimberly Spoerri


Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
Duane McLaughlin


Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP

Perks & Benefits