Cleary Gottlieb Achieves Outstanding Results in Chambers Global 2009: More than 100 Lawyers and 80 Practices Distinguished as Leaders

March 9, 2009

Cleary Gottlieb boasted a strong showing in Chambers Global 2009 Guide to the World’s Leading Lawyers for Business. Evidencing the strength of the firm’s overall practice and extent of its geographic reach, Chambers distinguished 106 Cleary Gottlieb lawyers for their work in Belgium, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, the Philippines, Russia, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as regionally throughout Africa, Central & Eastern Europe, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and globally.

Chambers also recognized 80 Cleary Gottlieb practices as global leaders. As the publication has evolved, Chambers has redefined its regional and practice area categories, subdividing some into narrower niches while truncating others. Of particular note in the 2009 edition are the new Asia-Pacific and Europe-wide sections, and the expanded Latin America category, all of which celebrate several Cleary Gottlieb practices. Recognizing the firm’s commitment to new markets and uncompromising client service, the firm was also profiled for the first time in the following new or slightly reorganized areas: Corporate/Commercial in Africa; Capital Markets and Corporate/M&A in Central & Eastern Europe; Corporate/Commercial and Investment Funds in the Middle East; Capital Markets: International & Hong Kong Law: Debt, Corporate/M&A: China: Foreign and Corporate/M&A: Hong Kong in China; General Business Law: Overseas Counsel in the Philippines; and Investment Funds: REITs in the United States.

The following Cleary Gottlieb practices are recognized for being among the best in the world, based on Chambers’ interviews of the firm’s clients and competitors:

Global

  • Arbitration (International): “‘An excellent firm that consistently delivers,’ Cleary maintains a strong market profile, eschewing the veneration of individuals for a more team-oriented culture.”
  • Banking & Finance: “This firm is hailed as ‘a major contender in international tax work,’ with a deep bench of partners and associates assisting clients on a range of deals. The firm is headquartered in New York City, where it is known as a leader in complex financial products, private equity, real estate and regulatory work, with long-standing relationships on the banking and borrowing sides of the table. ... Its international reach continues to impress, with clients suggesting that ‘international work is built into the firm’s DNA’ and praising its ‘superb network and coverage.’”
  • Capital Markets: Debt; Capital Markets: Equity; and Capital Markets: Structured Finance & Derivatives: “The firm’s ‘remarkable international alignment’ continues to impress commentators, who note that from its bases at home and abroad, the firm commands a major share of capital markets work in the Latin American, European and Asian emerging markets, while maintaining its hegemony on the US securities scene.”
  • Competition/Antitrust: “Having opened its first European office in 1949, this is one of the few truly global players firmly positioned ‘in the super-league of competition practices.’ In addition to strength on both sides of the Atlantic — in Washington, DC and in Brussels — Cleary Gottlieb offers a full complement of competition teams on the ground in Europe. … Across the board, rivals concede that this group displays ‘tremendous global coverage and strong quality,’ while clients highlight ‘the quality of the problem-solving skills it brings to cases, and its willingness to give tough advice.’”
  • Corporate/M&A: “By moderating its growth and expansion, this firm is able to maintain its hard-earned reputation for quality service as it takes time to select lateral hires that will resemble the standards of its home-grown talent. … The firm’s close links to financial institutions has meant its expertise has been highly sought after in light of recent world events.”
  • Dispute Resolution: “Cleary Gottlieb has terrific global credentials. New York is a key hub of dispute resolution instructions, but the firm is also extremely well regarded in Europe, perhaps nowhere more so than in Paris, where it is at the pinnacle of the international arbitration marketplace. … It is also recognised as a go-to firm for major multi-jurisdictional antitrust matters.”
  • Private Equity: “In addition to its work for major private equity houses, the firm has increasingly been acting for sovereign wealth funds … The firm is lauded for its extensive experience and ability to get transactions completed smoothly. Clients comment: ‘The quality of the lawyers is great — they know exactly what they’re doing and can run a deal blindfolded.’ The team’s knowledge of both the private equity sector in general and the specific needs of individual clients is coupled with ‘an amazing global network.’”
  • Investment Funds: Private Equity: Fund Formation: “Fund managers report that Cleary Gottlieb ‘is on top of its game — it is staffed with smart lawyers who are completely client-oriented.’ Other interviewees commend the lawyers’ ‘excellent commerciality and high level of service,’ while investor-side clients are impressed with the team’s ‘good relationships with significant sponsors in the field.’”
  • Tax: “This US heavyweight is highly regarded for the tax work it handles out of its New York, London, Rome, Paris and Frankfurt offices. … Cleary Gottlieb boasts ‘deep roots and extremely fine lawyers,’ and the close integration of offices allows for ‘clear strategic thinking and appreciation of national and international nuances’ on deals.”

Africa

  • Corporate/Commercial: “Long respected for its sovereign debt work, this ‘excellent and responsive’ group’s expertise includes the whole range of commercial concerns … While the group, which draws on partners from the Paris and London offices, is not region-specific, its caseload is dominated by deals in Central and West Africa, providing clients ‘with not only the usual advantages of a large global firm but also an outstanding understanding of the local legal regulatory aspects of various countries across the continent.’ This insight is coupled with some of the ‘brightest and most brilliant up-and-coming lawyers,’ which makes the team ‘the first port of call for anything Africa-related’ for many clients.”

Asia-Pacific

  • Capital Markets: Debt and Capital Markets: Equity: “Although historically best known in the region for its Korean practice, this firm now boasts a strong capital markets practice in China and is renowned for its excellent performance in the Indian market as well. … The group is a favourite among Korean issuers because ‘it understands the demands of the Korean market; it is the best advocate of our interests and backs us all the way,’ they say.”
  • Corporate/M&A and Corporate/M&A: Private Equity: “Cleary Gottlieb has accumulated an excellent range of private equity deal experience in the regional markets and comes highly recommended by observers, who admire a team that ‘takes full ownership of deals and remains fully aware of its clients’ needs.’ … Given the firm’s globally renowned sovereign practice, it is no surprise that it also represents several regional sovereign wealth funds in their strategic investments.”

Central & Eastern Europe

  • Capital Markets: “This firm capitalises on its global muscle for capital markets work and is reputed to have ‘one of the strongest teams in Moscow.’ …‘What distinguishes the firm is its experience working with Russian corporates on international transactions,’ relates one client; ‘the lawyers are a bridge to London.’ … Clients value the lawyers’ ‘personal commitment’ and are impressed by ‘their hands-on approach, excellent due diligence and outstanding level of drafting and documentation.’ … ‘They go beyond what we expect from them and really understand our business well.’”
  • Corporate/M&A: “The ‘responsive and commercial’ boutique outposts of this US firm have impressed market sources with their focus on M&A work. The lawyers’ ability to ‘really listen to their clients and discuss potential solutions rather than dictating what to do’ stood out for interviewees. There are high levels of co-operation between the Moscow and London offices, and clients commended this cross-border teamwork: ‘I was dealing not just with a single person but with a great team of lawyers from different countries.’”

Europe-wide

  • Arbitration (International): “This US giant’s European commercial arbitration practice is led principally out of the Paris office, but is involved in a variety of disputes arising anywhere in Europe.”
  • Capital Markets: Debt; Capital Markets: Equity; and Capital Markets: High Yield Products: “It is widely accepted that Cleary Gottlieb is ‘the only US-headquartered law firm able to cut it with the magic circle for capital markets work across Europe.’ Indeed, the sheer quality of the lawyers is nothing short of legendary, with one source remarking: ‘They are all outstanding, and excellence is their global language.’”
  • Competition/European Law: “According to clients, this firm ‘has the distinguishing factor of a consistently phenomenal team. They not only have great partners, but the associates are outstanding, too — this firm offers pure excellence through and through.’ According to sources, the firm is ‘especially strong if you need something in developing areas of law — they are quite inventive, and not scared of pushing the boundaries.’ Bursting at the seams with talented competition lawyers, the firm is renowned for its excellence in behavioural and merger work on a Europe-wide scale.”
  • Corporate/M&A: “Cleary has had offices on mainland Europe for so long that it justifiably feels at home on the continent and does not, as some newer US-based entrants to the market might, rely on being fed by US clients. … Its expertise in capital markets and finance is a constant boon to the M&A aspect of its work.”
  • Financial Services Regulation: “Advice on the regulatory aspects of financial institutions M&A are a particular forte of the firm. … Clients were particularly impressed by the Brussels office, which has been at the epicentre of many important mandates. … Peers note the manner in which the firm has capitalised on the strength of its banking and finance practice and confirm that the [Frankfurt] office is ‘deservedly popular within the German market for this type of work.’”
  • International Trade/WTO: “This firm’s wide variety of clients demonstrates its capability to tackle the various strands of trade.”
  • Private Equity: “As one of the first US firms to penetrate the European market, it should come as no surprise to hear that Cleary Gottlieb has been able to translate its highly rated US private equity expertise into a highly successful European practice.”
  • Tax: “Pursuing a policy of ‘organic growth, with an insistence on the best,’ this firm is viewed as ‘excellent in its work and its lawyers.’ … The ‘jewel in its crown’ is the Parisian outpost, which is one of the best-established US offices in Europe and is considered ‘one of the very best tax practices in France for a wide variety of transactions.’”
  • Technology & Communications: “With Belgian and EU capability, this impressive US firm advises a variety of high-profile communications and technology clients on competition, regulatory and data protection issues, as well as litigation and M&A matters. Clients say its ‘astute lawyers provide thorough analyses of the issues’ and are ‘excellent for complicated and strategic cases.’”

Latin America

  • Banking & Finance: “‘This is the clear leader by far — no other firm comes closer.’ This is the market consensus on the reigning supremacy of this New York heavyweight in Latin America-related work. … With its roots in the region and a long-standing reputation for sovereign, debt restructuring, high-end corporate and securities work, it comes at no surprise that the team also dominates in banking and financing mandates.”
  • Capital Markets: “Cleary Gottlieb’s pole position in Latin American high-end capital markets work remains unassailable: universal feedback once again crowns it as ‘a truly spectacular leader.’ … Market observers highlight the firm’s unrivalled expertise in high-end international securities transactions, particularly advising underwriters on IPOs. … Sources say the firm stands out not only for its involvement in blockbuster transactions in the region, but also for its ‘powerful and well-prepared bench.’’”
  • Corporate/M&A: “This New York heavyweight is typically labelled ‘the undisputed leader, and the true benchmark when it comes to corporate work in Latin America.’ … In the words of one seasoned client: ‘I know it’s going to be plain sailing when Cleary lawyers are in the deal.’ Sources give full marks to Cleary Gottlieb for its ‘unrivalled commitment to the region.’ The firm’s practice spans the entire continent and covers all areas, handling a hefty share of the region’s biggest M&A transactions.”
  • International Arbitration: “The firm’s ‘top-notch’ litigation and arbitration team … is lauded as ‘extremely hands-on — you always get access to senior partners, and you never get false promises. Moreover, the lawyers provide a global view that is extremely beneficial.’”
  • Projects: Cleary Gottlieb enjoys a respected presence across the region, receiving unfettered praise for its ‘superb sovereign relationships.’ Clients appreciate the team’s common-sense approach: ‘These quality lawyers are deal-oriented but also care about doing things smoothly.’”

Middle East

  • Capital Markets: “This outfit has achieved more from London and Paris than some rivals with long-standing offices in the Middle East. … [T]his firm’s successes, especially in capital markets, speak for themselves.”
  • Corporate/Commercial: “[This firm’s] strong performance in debt restructuring brings a wealth of major clients, including sovereign entities. Regional M&A, buyouts and other corporate transactions figure highly in the firm’s workload, particularly for transactions in regulated industries such as telecoms.”
  • Investment Funds: “The team assists sovereign wealth funds and advises foreign clients seeking to invest into the Middle East and North Africa from offices in Europe, Asia and the USA.”

Belgium

  • Competition/European Law: “Market observers ‘take their hats off to this splendid competition group,’ which ‘excels in complex transactions – it’s one of the most superior and excellent competition practices around.’ Clients are also full of praise for the high level of partner involvement: ‘It’s a big firm but the responsibility is always taken by a partner. It is not an anonymous group – all its partners are in the front line and they deliver outstanding and first-class service.’”
  • Corporate/M&A: “Standing at the top of the Belgium market, this team is highly praised for ‘the pure excellence of its service – it offers high-quality work, quick reactions and a tremendous knowledge of private and public law.’ It focuses on M&A, private equity and equity capital markets work for an impressive number of high-profile domestic and international clients.”
  • International Trade/WTO: “This firm’s wide variety of clients demonstrates its capability to tackle the various strands of trade.”

Brazil

  • Capital Markets: Overseas Counsel: The “highly consistent and excellent service” provided by this team draws applause from clients and peers who view the department as a powerhouse. With its technical expertise and knowledge of the area, the team has acted on a substantial number of deals. One peer commented: “I’ve never seen a deal where the team hasn’t been extremely impressive.”

China

France

  • Capital Markets and Capital Markets: Equity: “Well established at the top of its field, this esteemed outfit received much praise. Firmly rooted in the French market, Cleary is described as ‘the most French of the US firms.’ … Clients and peers point out that the firm’s solid track record and its exceptional lawyers make it ‘the best for equity capital markets.’ … Behind the immense success of the firm lies ‘a very consistent, highly reactive, first-class team,’ assert clients.”
  • Corporate/M&A: “One of the leading players in the sector, this firm plays a key role in high-end transactions and its expertise is both local and international in scope. … Interviewees were unanimous in their praise for the team’s ‘unwavering excellence, long-established practice and solid track record,’ adding that the service and advice on offer here are ‘always flawless.’”
  • Dispute Resolution: International Arbitration and Dispute Resolution: Litigation: “Renowned for its activity in litigation and arbitration, ‘the excellent team’ at Cleary Gottlieb demonstrates expertise in commercial, tax, bankruptcy, securities and competition matters. It particularly shines in corporate work through its smooth collaboration with the firm’s widely acclaimed M&A department, and is involved in major transactions in that field.”

Germany

  • Banking & Finance and Banking & Finance: Acquisition Finance & Syndicated Lending: “Working in tandem with the firm’s capital markets experts, this large group has established a considerable presence in acquisition finance and syndicated loans, where its generalist approach enables it to work in the lending and borrowing areas of the market. [The team is] highlighted by clients for its ‘personalised approach, which replaces uniform products with tailored and unique solutions to complex problems.’”
  • Capital Markets: Debt and Capital Markets: Equity: “Clients rank this US-based firm among the market leaders for equity work and one went so far as to say: ‘It’s in a league of its own.’ … Clients praise the firm’s ‘outstanding quality of work’ and appreciate its substantial international presence.”
  • Corporate/M&A: “Delivering ‘a truly remarkable service,’ this team has developed an enviable reputation in the field … While the group’s widely acknowledged expertise in capital markets is the foundation of its presence in the M&A scene, the practice has developed its service and claims a place among the top advisers in the German market.”

India

  • Overseas Counsel: Corporate & Finance: “The twin drivers of this ‘high-quality and dynamic practice’ are Hong Kong and London, with a ‘very well-integrated team’ split between the two.”

Italy

  • Capital Markets: Equity: “This firm is considered ‘at the top for international deals’ … [C]lients agree that on both international and domestic transactions, the lawyers are ‘co-operative, proactive and experienced,’ possess ‘finely honed technical skills’ and ‘never need prompting.’”
  • Corporate/M&A: “Relying on a strong international network, this team of ‘knowledgeable and influential lawyers’ works on some of the largest M&A cross-border deals.”
  • Dispute Resolution: “This firm’s expertise in antitrust matters has attracted some of Italy’s largest clients, who turn to the firm for advice on all legal matters, including litigation. … While the dispute resolution lawyers often work hand in hand with their colleagues in the competition department, they remain an independent group working in other areas of the law, such as breach of contract. … The group also handles international arbitration.”

Philippines

  • General Business Law: Overseas Counsel: “The firm’s Philippines-related work emanates chiefly from the Hong Kong office, and has a strong capital markets flavour. Clients speak of ‘a solid team that staffs transactions well.’”

Russia

  • Banking & Finance: “Increasingly recognised for its banking work, this firm is unanimously acknowledged for its work on the borrowers’ side. … Clients report the team is ‘dedicated to our deals and really works to find solutions in complicated negotiations.’”
  • Capital Markets: “According to interviewees, this is a ‘dedicated cross-border team with no weak link at all; it gives real peace of mind to clients.’ … The workload is ‘impressively balanced’ between debt and equity matters, with a good share of work on both fronts. In addition, the team gets particular praise for its IPO expertise, where it represents a client roster of major international and Russian clients and acts on both the issuer and manager sides.”
  • Corporate/M&A: “‘Cleary’s multi-jurisdictional teams work in perfect co-operation; the lawyers are always available and always attentive,’ contented clients report.”

South Korea

  • Overseas Counsel: “With one of the oldest and largest Korea practices among overseas firms, this group has virtually unrivalled name recognition. ‘Clearly a front runner’ in capital markets, the team is widely known for its close relationships with issuers … the ‘tireless team, available at all hours,’ also advise[s] on M&A deals.”

United Kingdom

  • Banking & Finance and Banking & Finance: Acquisition Finance (Borrowers): “This team’s greatest strength is considered its representation of US private equity sponsors in major leveraged and acquisition financings.”
  • Capital Markets: Debt; Capital Markets: Equity; and Capital Markets: High Yield Products: “This is ‘a really classy outfit,’ according to sources, who note that the firm has fully integrated its US and UK capabilities, embedding itself in the UK and European markets to an arguably greater extent than many of its US competitors. Sources praise the firm’s recruitment policies, stating: ‘Cleary is the type of law firm that only takes on the best lawyers, which gives the client peace of mind as there is no weak link.’”
  • Corporate/M&A: High-end cross-border: “Established in London for more than three decades, this US firm has recently undergone significant expansion in the UK and Europe. The corporate team typically works on headline-grabbing deals.”

United States

  • Banking & Finance and Banking & Finance: Mainly Regulatory: “One of the first practices to fully embrace the international markets, this firm has a well-established network of offices overseas that continues to be a key attraction for clients. The group is a successful player in the leveraged finance market, where it is valued for its uniformly high-quality advice and efficient staffing of transactions.”
  • Capital Markets: Debt & Equity: “Domestically, the firm has long enjoyed close working ties with the SEC and accordingly it possesses ‘the best insight into US securities regulations – they drew the roadmap to Sarbanes-Oxley.’ One client declares: ‘I have never been associated with lawyers who are more talented at guiding me through the most impenetrable securities concepts.’”
  • Capital Markets: Derivatives and Capital Markets: Structured Products: “For many commentators, Cleary is ‘the best derivatives shop, period — from equity to credit products, and from securitised to OTC derivatives into futures and commodities, it just has the best continuum of people.’ … ‘They know what goes on behind the scenes, and as products evolve so rapidly they have been great at giving us benchmarking.’ … For clients, Cleary’s structured finance team is ‘the cream of the crop – with the added value of a very impressive tax group, we’re on to a winning ticket.’”
  • Capital Markets: Securitisation: “Market onlookers agree that ‘Cleary Gottlieb carries a national reputation for doing terrific structured finance work,’ although they also note that the firm has deliberately limited its participation to the securitisation market: ‘This group doesn’t churn out a huge volume of conventional transactions — it advises on the fewer innovative deals the market has to offer.’”
  • Competition/Antitrust: “Rivals emphasise the competition group’s international pre-eminence and the resultant cross-border work this attracts. … The firm is well connected at the US government agency level, which elicits bountiful praise from clients: according to one, its experienced attorneys ‘have great communication skills and really know how to get a message across’ to such entities such as the FTC and Department of Justice (DOJ).”
  • Corporate/M&A: ‘The thing about Cleary is that it is so very consistent — just fantastic,’ commentators agree. … It is regarded as one of the premier stops for cross-border transactions, and … it has seen a vast array of private equity investment activity. It wins a great deal of work due [to] its crossover specialisms with derivatives and financial products.”
  • Investment Funds: Private Equity: Fund Formation: Commentators say the firm is ‘at the top of its game – its approach is really client-oriented and intelligent.’ Others remarked that they felt able to ask the team ‘thorny questions – anything from acquisition to tax issues and ERISA.’ Clients’ faith in the team stems from the lawyers’ ability to ‘take not overly formalistic legal positions and to make sense from a commercial perspective.’”
  • Investment Funds: REITs: “Cleary Gottlieb operates a global REIT practice, and representing lenders in REIT-related financings accounts for a substantial portion of its workload.”
  • Private Equity: Buyouts: “This New York firm is described by one client as ‘our primary go-to law firm for anything that’s difficult and requires quality lawyers.’ Clients also highlight the firm’s ability to ‘muster resources quickly on matters where time sensitivity is of the essence,’ including across international offices. The team’s lawyers are singled out for their ‘commercial viewpoint, and seeing the counterpart in deals as their client’s client.’”
  • Tax: Corporate & Finance: “[T]his prestigious firm has developed a truly national reputation. ‘It’s an understatement to say that Cleary is first-rate,’ admit peers, who also highlight the group’s international profile: ‘It is at the summit of tax departments in New York and the USA, and is among the best in the world.’ The firm is best known for its formidable banking and finance practice, which includes ‘huge strength in financial products.’”

For the full text of these rankings, please visit Chambers’ website.