Alumni

Our network of stellar alumni is among our proudest achievements—many of our former lawyers remain in close contact with us after they leave, and some even become our best clients.

Alumni2019Asia

Alumni2019Asia

Alumni2019Fall

Alumni2019Fall

Alumni2019LA

Alumni2019LatAm

Alumni2019LatAm

Alumni2019NBA

Alumni2019Office

Alumni2019Corp

Alumni2019European

Alumni2019European

Cleary alumni have gone on to join the legal departments of corporations, financial institutions, non-profits, and international organizations. Our former lawyers have held distinguished roles in government, academia, and the corporate world. Many have started their own businesses and some have pursued fields completely outside of the law. The impressive positions that our alumni hold reflect both the quality of our training and our global reach.

 

NYAlumniStatsWeb011221Animated gif

 

Alumni Spotlights

Our alumni have tremendous pride in their experiences at the firm and often reflect upon their time with fondness and gratitude. Read some of their thoughts below.

75thAnniversaryAlumniSpotlightXu1200x500 png

What lessons did you learn at Cleary that prepared you for your future career?

At Cleary, I learned to be a lawyer. I worked closely with talented partners who were generous with their time and trained me to be analytical, meticulous, agile, and creative. I also learned how to make effective and strategic decisions in the face of legal ambiguity, and then to present solutions to my clients simply and persuasively. I’m grateful to have started my legal career at Cleary, and I have carried all of these learnings to my in-house roles.

 

75thAnniversaryAlumniSpotlightScott1200x500 png

What lessons did you learn at Cleary that prepared you for your future career?

Two things I learned at Cleary were the importance of paying attention to detail and creating a great work product. Cleary always stressed these two elements, and they are two things that are so often lacking in the legal world.

What Cleary person and/or experience had a lasting impact on you personally?

As a Cleary alum, I participated in an initiative to assess why underrepresented groups tend to leave the firm before partnership. The initiative was also undertaken to come up with recommendations to address the problems or issues that some associates faced. I really felt that this initiative went well beyond what most firms do, and it showed a strong commitment to diversity.

Why do you participate in the alumni network, and what would you say to someone who is considering getting involved?

I initially started attending alumni events to expand networking for business development at my firm, but it only took one event to change that. I have consistently attended events over the last several years because they are fun. I have reconnected and met many wonderful people at these events, and I really look forward to them.

 

75thAnniversaryAlumniSpotlightDakin1200x500 png

What lessons did you learn at Cleary that prepared you for your future career?

Working in the intellectual property group at Cleary was great training for working in-house at a charitable organization. For one thing, given the special significance of intellectual property assets at a non-profit—including, at the Child Mind Institute, several patented technologies, and, at the Rainforest Alliance, the little green frog seal—the protection and licensing work I did at Cleary has been directly relevant. But beyond that, I ended up handling a lot of issues as an associate that were not limited to intellectual property, including employment, data protection, and strategic collaboration agreements. And needless to say, the rigorous attention to detail and sink-or-swim approach for which Cleary is renowned has served me well no matter the setting!

 

75thAnniversaryAlumniSpotlightZagaytova1200x500 png

What lessons did you learn at Cleary that prepared you for your future career?

Practicing excellence in all of the legal work I do while also managing multiple projects and delivering on tight deadlines.

What Cleary person and/or experience had a lasting impact on you personally?

Duane McLaughlin. Duane was a great mentor and helped me get up to speed on leveraged finance as a senior associate, giving me the confidence that it’s never too late to learn a new area of law and become an expert. Those skills served me well in my career in-house.

Why do you participate in the alumni network, and what would you say to someone who is considering getting involved?

I enjoy the learning and support that being part of the Cleary Alumni network provides. It has also been a great resource for recruiting new hires for my team.

 

75thAnniversaryAlumniSpotlightSardi1200x500 png

What lessons did you learn at Cleary that prepared you for your future career?

I started my career in what could be characterized as law firms with an “eat what you kill” mentality, where a fierce internal competition was encouraged. Therefore, when I joined Cleary, I was a bit disconcerted with its collegial values. Over time, however, I can say that those values have deeply shaped me and they have undeniably influenced my leadership style. Furthermore, the sense of belonging to a community of colleagues that works cooperatively and that respects and values each of its members was crucial for building the confidence that has allowed me to take on many new professional challenges after Cleary.

What Cleary person and/or experience had a lasting impact on you personally?

It is impossible to reduce the impact that Cleary has had on me to just one person or one experience. I believe that Cleary’s formula for success lies in creating a unique environment that makes it easy to build deep and long lasting professional and personal ties. Personally, I have made some of my best friends during my time at Cleary and I have also found mentors that have provided me with advice and help in every step of my after-Cleary career.

Why do you participate in the alumni network, and what would you say to someone who is considering getting involved?

I participate in the alumni network because it offers a lot of interesting opportunities and because it is a way to still be part of and give back to a structure that has done a lot for me, both personally and professionally. And to those that are considering joining Cleary’s alumni network I would say: go for, it is definitely worth it!

 

75thAnniversaryAlumniSpotlightLee1200x500 png

What lessons did you learn at Cleary that prepared you for your future career?

Everything I learned during my four-plus years at Cleary has truly been the foundation for everything else I’ve been able to achieve since departing Cleary, but ironically, the most valuable lessons were not about substantive legal practice. There are two major lessons I learned at Cleary that I’ll forever be grateful for: (1) how to learn quickly and efficiently, and (2) always strive to understand the big picture and try to predict the future.

The most important technical skill I learned is the ability to learn quickly and efficiently—specifically, when confronted with a brand new issue or problem that I may know very little about at first, I’ve learned to be able to aggressively dive into the weeds, critically analyze the issues to develop appropriate courses of action, and then clearly communicate my ideas to others. For example, I was rarely instructed by my seniors to “find the correct legal answer” or “complete this legal task” (although of course I did my share of busy work as a junior). My seniors often asked and waited for me to present my views on how I would address a particular issue or solve a problem, which forced me to dig deep in order to truly appreciate the underlying issues and the client’s ultimate goals, so that I could develop a thoughtful solution, rather than just trying to come up with a quick response to the immediate question that may not ultimately mean much in the big picture.

Likewise, when I observed certain attorneys and clients in action, it was incredible to actually see them trying to “predict” the future (or potential future) and propose solutions that might be very different than if one was only considering the present conditions. In hindsight, it was a blessing in disguise to be a junior attorney at Cleary during the Great Recession when so many complex new laws (i.e. Dodd-Frank) and unpredictable transactions (i.e. Lehman) were taking place, and nobody actually knew what was going to happen in the future. One had to be supremely confident in his/her experiences and judgment to navigate this period with so much at stake, and to do so while keeping emotions in check and managing complex relationships was inspiring, and I learned so much during this period just by carefully observing others, specifically Michael Gerstanzang, Liza Lenas, Bob Raymond and other senior associates at the time in the private equity funds group. The internal team dynamics the senior leaders tried to infuse was incredible during those difficult times, and something I’ve tried to emulate in my own teams ever since.

These types of big and small interactions over four years really shaped how I approached any problem and communicated with others. I discovered just how much these skills were valuable when I moved to Asia as a fifth-year associate to specialize in the then-growing Asia private equity industry. At the time the PE industry in Asia was starting to grow tremendously, especially in Korea when it had then passed new laws that enabled more inbound PE activities. It was an incredibly difficult decision back then because of my amazing experiences at Cleary, but I also had 100% confidence that I could be successful in a new emerging, uncertain market precisely because of my Cleary training, and because I had formed a view on the incredible opportunity of Asia PE that I was willing to bet my career on. Indeed, I was able to build a very strong and profitable practice in Asia in quick order because of how I approached every project and client relationship, which then directly contributed to my decision to leave legal practice in 2014 to start a FinTech company.

When the JOBS Act was passed in 2012 that would allow non-accredited investors to invest in private companies, at the time almost no one in the industry took it seriously and a lot of people thought I was crazy for leaving my “established” path in BigLaw. However, again leaning on my original Cleary experiences and training, I did my research, critically analyzed the problems and issues with the current private markets (including the PE industry that I had built my own career in), and tried to predict the future. After doing so I felt that this was something that could quite possibly change everything about the private capital markets, and I decided to start NextSeed with the vision to enable private markets to open to everyone, not just for the super-wealthy or well-connected. In reality, I of course have no idea what the future actually holds—but six years into my startup journey, as we continue to make progress on our mission and the rest of the world seems to be catching up, I remain as confident as ever that I’ll be able to navigate the future just fine, whatever it becomes. For this, I feel truly grateful and blessed to have built my foundations at Cleary that will help me for the rest of my life, and I strive to be helpful to others, just as so many at Cleary have helped me over all these years.