Collaborative Work in an Open Structure

Our firm is arranged around an informal structure that is democratic and participatory. Associates can pursue their own interests and explore different areas of the law—we don’t require rotations or dictate your practice focus. As your practice evolves and your interests expand, your career path will grow in tandem.

An Ideal Environment to Practice Law

Supported by an international network of know-how, precedents and best practices, we believe Cleary’s informal environment provides the optimal setting in which to train and practice law.

  • From the beginning, you will be expected to solve problems—not just take directions. New associates work in teams with more experienced lawyers and are given substantive assignments and significant responsibilities right away.
  • We actively encourage associates to spend time in different offices and practice areas, gaining a deep understanding of how all aspects of a transaction fit together. Often you will be part of client teams that combine the skills and resources of lawyers from across our offices and practice areas.
  • Associates are encouraged to take an active role in nurturing existing client relationships and developing new ones.
  • When you have questions, you’ll find lawyers at all levels of seniority ready to guide you, whether or not they are assigned to your matter. This collegiality is a cornerstone of our culture at Cleary.

Settling Into Your Practice

While we are not rigidly departmentalized by practice area, each office has established informal practice groups in its main areas of activity. Lawyers select practice groups based on both their preferences and our clients’ needs. We’ll work to balance your interests and requests with the skills you’ll need to sharpen in order to move your career ahead. 

We believe that this approach allows us to provide our clients with the highest level of legal services—while making the practice of law enjoyable and rewarding for our associates.

Lockstep Compensation

At one time, most premier law firms divided profits among partners on the basis of seniority, through a system known as “lockstep” compensation. As business economics began to dominate important decisions in the legal profession, many firms moved away from the historical model; today only a handful of law firms adhere to lockstep compensation. 

At Cleary, we still believe this model brings out the best in our lawyers and our firm—and helps deliver the best results to our clients. Every associate and partner is compensated on the basis of seniority, not hours billed or business generated.

Rewarding Work and Putting Clients First

At Cleary compensation is about more than how we split the pie. We believe the lockstep system appropriately rewards partners for their contributions throughout their career, while recognizing that each partner’s contributions will be unique. The rewards of this model include:

  • The interests of our clients are best met in a culture where teamwork and excellence are nurtured.
  • Partners don’t waste time arguing about money or assigning credit for matters.
  • There is no incentive for our lawyers to compete with each other or to hoard client relationships.
  • Our lawyers are enthusiastic about assisting and training more junior associates.
  • We can concentrate on the values and objectives that will continue to benefit Cleary and our clients over time.