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).


“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.