Alumni Spotlight: Timothy Murphy (1995-2000; London, New York)

November 17, 2021

To celebrate Cleary Gottlieb’s 75th anniversary, alumni around the globe are taking time to reflect on their experiences at the firm.

Timothy Murphy, Chief Administrative Officer at Mastercard in New York, shares his thoughts below.

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

I’d say I took two lessons from Cleary that have served me particularly well. I remember Cleary partners talking about the firm’s desired standard of work, which was nothing less than perfection. “At Cleary, we do perfect work.” Age and experience have taught me that this standard is quite elusive, and surely it is true that the perfect can be the enemy of the good. But I long ago realized that the Cleary standard is not about the end result, but the mindset and effort that go into the making of the thing. And to this day, I find myself going above and beyond – even in the small things – to ensure that the work I produce is as clear, as well thought through, and crisply stated as I can possibly make it. I’m a better General Counsel for it.

The second lesson is even more important. Cleary’s instinctive internationalism is not just a business model. It is a way of seeing the world – an openness to difference and the possibility of human excellence in every place; a commitment to the idea that we flourish when ideas are interchanged and cultures mix; and a conviction that new possibilities arise when we lend our talents to support the dignity, equality and creative energy of people who are very different from us. A 20th century firm, Cleary has a 21st century spirit that our world needs now more than ever!

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

I have such warm memories of my time at Cleary. I joined the firm because I was deeply impressed by the culture and people, and because I loved the international flavor of the practice. My wife Mandy and I were newly married, so it was a time of great adventure in our lives, a time of new beginnings. I’ll always be grateful to Cleary for giving us the chance to live for three years in London, where our oldest daughter was born. These are such precious lifetime memories! From a career perspective, my time at Cleary London set me up exceptionally well for my work at Mastercard. I’ve spent the last twenty years traveling the world on Mastercard business, building on the global perspectives I first learned at Cleary.

To learn more about Cleary’s global alumni network, click here.