Frequently Asked Questions

Below are our answers to some of our frequently asked questions.

If you have additional questions please reach out to ny-recruiting@cgsh.com or dc-recruiting@cgsh.com.

The Interview Process

1L Program

Summer Program

Your Life as a Cleary Associate

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Well-Being

Alumni Relations

Does Cleary provide support for those transitioning to external opportunities?

THE INTERVIEW PROCESS

“How can I interview with Cleary?”

We participate in on-campus interviews or job fairs as well as resume collection programs at over 40 schools. This year, in accordance with school guidelines, all interviews will be conducted virtually. If you are not able to secure an on campus slot or interview please contact us at ny-recruiting@cgsh.com or dc-recruiting@cgsh.com.

“How do I secure an interview if Cleary is not registered for virtual interviews on campus?”

We welcome applications from candidates who we are unable to meet through our virtual on-campus programs. Please submit an application online or directly at ny-recruiting@cgsh.com or dc-recruiting@cgsh.com.

“Do you accept 3L applications?”

We accept 3L applications and hire 3Ls based on the needs of the firm. We are currently accepting 3L applications for our corporate practice groups in New York.

“Does Cleary have a minimum GPA or other requirements?”

Hiring decisions are based on many factors, including, but not limited to, prior work experience, outstanding judgment and interpersonal skills as well as demonstrated evidence of high academic performance in legal and undergraduate studies. We do not primarily rely on a minimum GPA requirement.

“What materials should I submit as part of my application?”

To complete your application, we require your resume as well as (unofficial) copies of your law school and undergraduate transcripts. In addition, you have the opportunity to submit an optional 500 word personal statement to complement your application. Should you decide to submit a personal statement, you can do so either prior to your virtual on-campus interview or when you join us for a call back interview.

“What is the format of a virtual on-campus interview?”

Virtual on-campus interviews will be conducted one-on-one with a senior lawyer. The length of the interview and the video conferencing platform will be determined by your law school.

“When will I get a decision regarding my on-campus interview?”

You can expect feedback within two to three business days.

“What is the format of a call back interview?”

We have decided that callback interviews will be conducted virtually. All New York candidates will meet with five attorneys over four interviews (two senior attorneys, one mid-level, and paired junior associates) during their callback interview. Candidates will have a 15 minute break between interviews. If candidates are unable to conduct interviews through this format, we will work with the candidate directly to ensure they are able to schedule their interviews.

“Will I meet anyone besides my interviewers during my call back?”

We will be hosting virtual Cleary welcome suites during the call back interview process to give you the opportunity to meet more of the Cleary community, including former summer associates and associates. Prior to your interview, you will have the option to let us know whether you are interested in joining a welcome suite.

In addition to the optional welcome suites, you will meet with a member of the Legal Recruiting team to answer any questions you may have about your interview schedule, logistics, or the firm in general.

“How long will it take for me to get a decision from the firm?”

We aim to provide decisions as quickly as possible, keeping in mind guidelines provided by each school. However, as we operate as a consensus-based firm, we solicit and value feedback from all attorneys with whom you meet before making an offer decision. Due to this careful and thoughtful process, it may take up to two weeks for you to receive a decision.

“I got an offer! Can I schedule a return visit?”

Congratulations! We would be happy to have you meet with additional lawyers for a second look. Please reach out to the Recruiting Team at ny-recruiting@cgsh.com or dc-recruiting@cgsh.com to schedule a virtual or in person return visit. Please let us know if there are any specific people, groups, practice areas, or affinity group members you would like to meet with or learn about during your second look. Whichever format you choose, we will ensure that you will learn more about our people, culture, clients and work.

“What will an in-person return visit look like?”

If you would like to visit the New York or Washington, D.C. office, we are happy to accommodate you for small group events. An in-person visit will include an office tour with a member of the legal recruiting team, as well as an opportunity to join some of our attorneys for lunch, coffee, or dinner. In order to gather safely, we plan to keep groups small and encourage outdoor dining when possible for these second look visits. Please note that if you would like to attend an in-person second look, you must provide proof of vaccination and abide by all office safety protocols, such as wearing masks when required. If you are traveling from out of town, the firm will cover the cost of your travel as well as one night in a hotel.

“What will a virtual return visit look like? How will I be able to get to know the firm better without visiting in person?”

We know it can be difficult to get a feel for firms through the virtual interviewing process, and our goal is to help you get to know Cleary in the way that works best for you. If you prefer to schedule a virtual second look, we will provide three options for our virtual second looks.

The first option is the traditional model, where you have the option to be scheduled for one-on-one 30 minute consecutive virtual meetings with attorneys in the areas you have requested.

Our second model offers an opportunity to meet additional lawyers in a group setting with colleagues of your or our choice.  This format offers the opportunity to introduce you to other post-offer candidates with similar interests.  Groups can be organized in an array of formats, for example, 30 minute consecutive meetings.

Our final model allows you to meet with additional lawyers in a small group of 3-4 attorneys.

Whichever format you chose, we are will ensure that you will learn more about our people, culture, clients, and work.

“Will there be offer dinners this year? Can I meet more Cleary attorneys in a social setting?”

We plan to host many opportunities that will allow candidates to get to know our attorneys in a more informal setting, including a variety of virtual receptions and small group in-person events. Virtual events will offer opportunities to meet attorneys from our New York and Washington, D.C. offices in breakout rooms. Small group in-person events will take place in the New York or Washington, D.C. offices. Please note that if you would like to attend an in-person second look, you must provide us with a copy of proof of vaccination and abide by all office safety protocols, such as wearing masks when required. If you are traveling from out of town, the firm will cover the cost of your travel as well as one night in a hotel.

“Who do I contact if I have questions about my offer?”

For questions about your offer, including regarding offer reaffirmations and/or extensions, please contact ny-recruiting@cgsh.com or dc-recruiting@cgsh.com.

1L PROGRAM

“Does Cleary hire 1Ls?”

Cleary is dedicated to encouraging and fostering diversity across the firm and the legal profession, and as part of that commitment, we offer a 1L Diversity Summer Associate program. Students who have overcome obstacles in pursuing a legal education, those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and those from populations historically underrepresented in the legal profession are encouraged to apply.

After completion of the summer program, 1L Summer Associates will be eligible to receive an offer to return to the firm as summer associates for the following summer.

SUMMER PROGRAM

“Did Cleary host a summer program in 2020?”

Yes. We successfully hosted a ten-week virtual summer program during which summer associates worked remotely. Our virtual summer program included training, assignments (both billable and pro bono), mentoring opportunities, affinity group activities and small group virtual social and mentoring events.

Our 2021 virtual summer program included all of the hallmarks of a traditional Cleary summer program. Summer associates were assigned multiple levels of mentors to facilitate their integration into the firm, received both formal and informal feedback, and were able to learn about the wide variety of work we do. We continued to host practice area presentations and, despite not being able to physically send summer associates abroad, we implemented a virtual overseas rotation program for a period of 2 weeks where summer associates got to work on assignments in our overseas offices and meet attorneys in those offices.  Additionally the firm hosted Cleary Connection days, which included two days of events for those summer associates who were comfortable traveling to New York and meeting their colleagues in person.

Summer associates were also provided well-being support during their time with us. This included optional weekly workout sessions as well as regular check-ins and other wellness initiatives. In an effort to fully support our summer associates, we provided full pay, salary advances and technology support.

INTERNATIONAL OFFICE ROTATIONS

“I’m interested in working internationally. Can I do that as a Cleary summer associate?”

Travel guidance permitting, summer associates can apply to spend four weeks in one of our 14 global offices. This is a unique opportunity to experience the work of our international offices and allows summer associates to assess the possibility of a short- or long-term assignment in the future.

SPLIT SUMMERS

“Can I split my summer with another Cleary office?”

Yes, we offer summer associates the opportunity to split their summer between the New York and Washington, D.C. offices. Candidates interested in this opportunity will be required to interview with and receive offers from both offices.

“Can I split my summer with another firm or organization?”

Yes, we allow summer associates to split their summer with another firm or organization. Summer associates must begin their summer with Cleary and spend at least seven consecutive weeks at the firm.

STAFFING/WORK ASSIGNMENTS

“How do I get work as a summer associate?”

In your first week at Cleary, our summer staffing team of senior lawyers will provide assignments based on your indicated areas of interest balanced with the needs of our clients. Throughout the summer, summer associates are able to continually update their practice area interests. Our summer staffing team speaks one-on-one with summer associates who have staffing questions and/or related requests as they try out one or more related practice areas.

“Can I try out different practice areas?”

Yes. As a summer associate, you will have the opportunity to work in multiple practice areas as you choose. Our staffing team will work with you to secure assignments that balance the needs of our clients with your unique skills and interests. The summer program is your first opportunity to begin to develop generalist skills that will serve you well as an associate in any practice area, so we encourage our summer associates to explore a number of different practices.

“Will I be able to work on pro bono assignments in addition to billable work?”

Yes. Summer associates are able to work on pro bono matters. Summer associates may indicate their interest in pro bono work, either in specific areas, such as racial or social justice issues, immigration rights, first amendment and constitutional rights, and community development work, to name a few, or in particular organizations that the firm regularly partners with, such as The Legal Aid Society, The Bronx Defenders, Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and many others. As with billable work, pro bono assignments are staffed based on summer associate interest and availability, as well as the needs of our pro bono clients.

In addition to the valuable experience you will gain working on pro bono matters, summer associates are able to count their pro bono hours towards their bar requirements.

TRAINING/DEVELOPMENT

“How can I learn more about the different practice groups at Cleary?”

During the summer program, we aim to expose summer associates to a wide variety of practice areas and career paths. As part of these efforts, we host frequent practice area presentations where each group presents an overview of their practice area and associate life in their group, including notable clients and matters. Summer associates will also experience different practice areas through on-the-job training and by attending practice group meetings and lunches.

TRAININGS

“What kind of training will I receive over the summer?”

We believe our associates should have a strong foundation in a variety of legal skills, regardless of practice area interest. All summer associates participate in both Corporate and Litigation training, and we provide additional training opportunities, such as Cleary Core Skills, Who’s Who on Wall Street and writing and communications workshops to support professional growth and career development. These trainings provide key skills that define a successful Cleary lawyer in any practice area. In addition, summer associates are welcome to join other training opportunities offered by individual practice groups throughout their time at the firm.

REVIEW PROCESS/FEEDBACK

“Will my work and performance be reviewed over the summer?”

Yes. In addition to the ongoing informal feedback all Cleary summer associates receive while working on assignments, summer associates will receive formal feedback in the middle and end of their summer. These reviews are delivered by one of our Summer Program Co-Chairs and are comprised of feedback from the attorneys working with each summer associate on their assigned matters. Summer associates also have the opportunity to discuss their experience and share information regarding the Summer Program at this time.

“How can I solicit informal feedback?”

While summer associates receive formal feedback twice during the program – once at the midpoint of their time at Cleary and again at the conclusion – we encourage our lawyers to provide, and summer associates to solicit, informal feedback on an ongoing basis.

MENTORS

“What kind of mentorship will I receive as a summer associate?”

Summer associates are provided with multiple levels of mentorship during the Summer Program, including junior associate ‘siblings,’ mid-level associates who are members of the Summer Program Committee and senior lawyer mentors. In addition, each summer associate is mentored by one of our Summer Program Co-Chairs who monitors the summer associate’s experience and progress over the course of the summer.

EVENTS

“What activities and events can I expect during the summer program?”

In addition to your work at the firm, we provide an exciting lineup of events, including partner-hosted dinners, lunches, and firm-wide events that allow you to make connections with lawyers of all seniorities and get a true feel for life at Cleary. Notable past summer events include live concerts by popular artists, boat cruises, cooking classes, baseball games, Shakespeare in the Park and Broadway theater nights to name a few.

During the summer of 2021, our summer program was virtual but for those summer associates who were comfortable, we invited them to travel to New York for Cleary Connection days. Cleary Connection days included 2 days of scheduled events for summer associates to interact with their colleagues in person. We were also able to provide a great roster of virtual events, including small-group partner meet & greets, trivia, a cooking class, wine and cheese tasting events, and book club sessions.

YOUR LIFE AS A CLEARY ASSOCIATE

“What training and developmental opportunities can I expect at Cleary?”

At Cleary, we value and cultivate a developmental culture. Our associates are mentored and trained by a wide range of senior lawyers who are invested in associates’ growth and development. Since we have been working remotely, the firm has created structured networks to allow our associates to stay connected and continue to get great assignments, build working relationships and explore new opportunities.

Our Associate Development Manager (ADM) model as well as our new piloted Associate Development Teams provide increased opportunity for mentoring, feedback and engagement with senior lawyers, with the goal of ensuring that our associates continue to receive appropriate training and developmental opportunities.

In addition to mentorship and training support, Cleary provides extensive holistic wellness benefits to all associates, including a fitness benefit of $1800/year that may be spent on classes, gym memberships, or home equipment, and a variety of ongoing mental health programs and resources. Cleary offers a variety of well-being resources, programming, and benefits.  While working remotely, the firm has adapted all well-being programming to a virtual model and extended it to colleagues globally.  Recent examples include sessions on nutrition, cooking, breathwork, combating burnout, using mediation techniques to reduce digital distractions, and imposter syndrome & confidence.  Cleary offers live virtual mediation sessions weekly, emotional well-being & support apps, virtual support networks, an extensive online Well-Being resource library, and a monthly Well-Being newsletter – all focused on living skillfully and working well.

“What mentorship opportunities will I receive as an associate at Cleary?”

Cleary recognizes the importance and value of mentoring to the professional development of our lawyers. Mentoring serves as an effective tool in the development and retention of lawyers, including women and those from diverse backgrounds, and we are constantly striving to expand both formal and informal mentoring opportunities at the firm.

Cleary’s recently redesigned mentoring structure creates an effective experience for both senior lawyers and associates. Mentor pairs are practice area-focused to create stronger senior lawyer relationships to enhance the guidance and support for associates. The new structure also reinforces our formal and informal mentoring culture and complement attorney development managers and teams.

All new associates are paired with a mid-level-associate mentor, usually in the same practice group as the new associate. Mentors, selected from all practice areas, provide both professional and personal support to the new associates. These formal mentoring relationships supplement the informal ones that develop between junior and more senior lawyers in the course of working together and participating in other aspects of firm life. First-year associates have the ability to informally continue their relationship with their senior lawyer mentor from their tenure as summer associates.

The firm also offers lawyers the option to participate in Cleary’s Mentoring Circles, which include lawyers at all levels, from junior associates to partners, and are intended to help guide lawyers through their professional life at the firm. Circles meet regularly and provide participants with an opportunity to find mentors among senior, junior and peer lawyers. Circles expand individuals’ networks and resources across practice areas, and serve as a confidential forum for the continuous exchange of information among members.

“How are practice area assignments decided and staffing decisions made for first year associates?”

Assignments are given based on a combination of your preferences and the business needs of the various practice areas and of our clients. Generally, our associate preferences align with the needs of our practices and clients. As a result, most first-year associates are placed in one of their preferred practices areas. While we strive to place associates in practices that fit one of their preferences, at times the needs of clients or practices may necessitate that first year associates initially work in areas that do not align with their main preferences. We will, however, endeavor to provide associates with opportunities in their preferred practices when possible. Regardless of practice area assignment, we work with each associate to create a developmental plan to serve their career growth and to ensure they are fully trained with a broad range of skills. As a result, you will be gaining valuable experience that will carry you throughout your entire career, at Cleary or beyond.

“What kind of training will I get as an associate at Cleary? Does this change based on my practice group?”

In order to provide the best possible service to our clients, our attorney development program focuses on helping associates gain strong, transferable skills that will serve them well in any practice group at Cleary as well as in any future positions beyond Cleary. These training opportunities include our miniMBA program, Cleary Core Curriculum for Leadership Development (professional skills trainings), and a wide array of practice group trainings throughout the year.

“What is miniMBA?”

Every Cleary lawyer in the New York and Washington, D.C. offices participates in a ‘miniMBA’ course that covers the basics of Wall Street, finance, accounting and other topics usually found in an MBA course, but designed to teach these topics from the firm’s and client’s perspective. Courses are taught by senior Cleary lawyers and include: Financial Statement Analysis, Valuation, Corporate Governance, Derivatives, and Tax. The miniMBA also covers professional skill topics such as Tips from More Senior Associates, Personal Finance and the Cleary Core Skills.

The program is designed to facilitate relationship-building between associates through various networking activities. In the past, these have included small group dinners with senior lawyers, a tour of the Wall Street area, art tour led by internal lawyers and wine & cheese events.

Collectively, the programs help associates build relationships and foster collegiality from the start of their time at the firm.

“Will I have pro bono opportunities at Cleary?”

Absolutely! Pro bono is an integral part of our firm and nearly all Cleary attorneys at all levels of seniority do pro bono work. Cleary has a dedicated staff of pro bono and public service professionals who work together to strengthen and manage our award-winning pro bono practice.

Cleary does not focus exclusively in one area of pro bono which allows us to be flexible in matching the needs of the communities we serve with our lawyers’ skills and interests. Notable practice areas include assisting individuals and small businesses with legal issues related to COVID-19, representing labor and sex trafficking survivors in a diverse range of legal needs, representing veterans, international human rights work, civil rights work (including prisoners’ rights, LGBTQ rights, voting rights and racial justice), criminal defense (including state and federal criminal appeals, resentencing cases, and post-conviction relief), not-for-profit law, representing artists, small businesses, and social enterprises, and immigration cases (including affirmative and defensive asylum cases, habeas and bond cases, T-Visas, U-Visas, SIJS, refugee resettlement, cancellation of removal cases, and naturalization and green card adjustments).

CLERKSHIPS

“Does Cleary value judicial clerkships?”

Yes. Many current and former Cleary attorneys have completed clerkships and have found it to be a valuable and rewarding experience. The firm provides support and information to associates and summer associates who wish to explore clerkship opportunities.

“I’m interested in clerking. Can I return to Cleary afterward my clerkship?”

Generally, yes. We have a policy regarding clerkship returns. Those interested in returning to Cleary after their clerkship should contact us either before or during their clerkship to discuss.

DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION

“How does Cleary show its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion?”

Diversity, equity and inclusion are fundamental firm values, key components of Cleary’s approach to recruiting and developing talent, and integral to the exceptional legal services we provide our clients. The firm is committed to developing and reimagining strategies, initiatives and partnerships that advance underrepresented populations and women internally within our own professional community and externally in the broader global community.

In 2020, we launched our Path to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion project, a global, cross-disciplinary effort focused on advancing equity within our firm. The Pillar Projects build on our existing DE&I initiatives and focus on six key pillars, including articulating our values to help ensure they are embedded into our processes and improving our data collection and reporting methods to increase transparency and accountability. The pillar projects are led by partners across the firm, as we understand the need to demonstrate leadership and support at the highest levels to achieve our DE&I goals.

To that end, Cleary has Diversity Committees in both its New York and Washington, D.C. offices that consist of lawyers of all levels of seniority, including partners, counsel, senior attorneys and associates, across practice areas. The firm’s gender-equity efforts are led by the Women Lawyers Advisory Committee, which focuses on the advancement of women at the firm. The committees, alongside the firm’s six affinity groups (Black, East Asian, Latino, LGBTQ, and Southeast Asian South Asian Middle Eastern, Diverse Associates Group (Washington)), develop and sponsor numerous initiatives to support diversity, equity and inclusion at the firm, including curriculum, training, speaker series, affinity group activities, mentoring programs and special events.

In addition, we have a robust, dedicated DE&I team that works closely with practice groups and other Talent Team members to advocate for underrepresented associates and support the equitable distribution of opportunities to develop at the firm.

“In light of recent events, what commitments has Cleary made to diversity, equity and inclusion going forward?”

In 2020, Cleary reaffirmed its commitment to maintaining and preserving its values of equity, diversity and inclusion. We condemn the systemic racism and oppression that has plagued American society and in particular, the perpetual injustice the Black community faces. (Please see Cleary’s public statement issued by our Managing Partner). Cleary has redoubled its efforts to address racism, interrupt bias and enhance the professional development of Black and other diverse associates. The firm has made donations to the Equal Justice Initiative, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and Ali Forney Center and matched employee donations to those organizations. We joined the new Law Firm Antiracism Alliance, a coalition of law firms formed to bring together and use collective resources to amplify the voices of those oppressed by racism and to find ways to better use the law in support of communities of color.

In consultation with external experts in organizational behavior and psychology, Cleary has hosted various forums and programs to facilitate discussion and education around anti-racism, anti-Blackness, and effective allyship. We have also created safe spaces and expanded mental health resources to provide additional support to communities personally impacted by these events of racial violence.

In 2020, we launched our Path to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion project, a global, cross-disciplinary effort focused on advancing equity within our firm. The Pillar Projects build on our existing DE&I initiatives and focus on six key pillars, including articulating our values to help ensure they are embedded into our processes and improving our data collection and reporting methods to increase transparency and accountability. The pillar projects are led by partners across the firm, as we understand the need to demonstrate leadership and support at the highest levels to achieve our DE&I goals.

WELL-BEING

“How does Cleary foster well-being at the firm?”

Cleary has always prioritized well-being and in 2020, Cleary  established two key resources to action and advance this commitment:

  • Global Well-Being department: firm resource to support the personal and professional growth of all members of the Cleary community.  We approach well-being from a holistic perspective and across a framework of four specific areas of content: Connection, Guidance, Support, and Health.  Our mission is to empower and enable members of the Cleary Gottlieb community to live skillfully and work well, and we organize this work into three key objectives:
    • Educate lawyers and professional staff on a variety of well-being topics
    • Enable our colleagues to invest in their well-being through tools, tips and awareness
    • Enhance the overall Cleary experience, with a particular focus on issues of stress & anxiety; work-life balance & availability expectations; and healthy working relationships

Overall, our goal is to successfully contribute to a work culture where mental and physical well-being are open topics, well-being resources are accessible and stigma-free, and the behavior of all lawyers and staff is expected to promote and support general well-being. Our team continues to strive, meet and exceed Cleary’s commitment to all tenets of the ABA Well-Being Pledge which is a key component of our well-being initiatives.

Well-Being Advisory Committee (WBAC) in New York: consultative board comprised of senior lawyers and associates, focused on well-being and the overall work experience.  Through recommendations, guidance, feedback, insight, and discussion on issues affecting associate mental and physical wellness, the WBAC contributes to a Cleary culture where well-being is an open, important, and dynamic part of the workplace conversation.

ALUMNI RELATIONS

“Does Cleary provide support for those transitioning to external opportunities?”

From the start of their career, Cleary works with associates to craft a career development plan. Career counseling is provided to all lawyers to either continue their career at the firm or, if one chooses, to explore external opportunities. The Alumni Relations and Career Services team serves as a unique confidential resource for associates to speak about their concerns, challenges, personal and professional development, and thoughts about the future. Cleary’s Alumni Relations team provides confidential counseling for associates looking to transition from the firm and this resource remains available to alumni for the duration their careers. In addition, senior lawyers at the firm serve as resources for associates who are considering external opportunities and assist associates in pursuit of their professional goals. Our prestigious alumni network spans the globe, and current and former Cleary attorneys are an excellent resource for networking and advice.