Cleary Gottlieb Shines in The Legal 500 U.S. 2011 Guide - 80 Lawyers and 27 Practices Recommended

June 3, 2011

Citing Cleary Gottlieb’s breadth of knowledge across its U.S. practice, The Legal 500 U.S. 2011 guide distinguished 80 of the firm’s lawyers and 27 practice areas as leaders in their field.

The Legal 500 U.S. recognized the firm for the first time in the following new and reorganized categories: Bank Lending (Including Other Sources of Financing), Financial Services – Regulatory and Industry Focus – Energy: Transaction and Regulatory.

The following Cleary Gottlieb practices were recommended as among the best in the United States, based on The Legal 500’s survey of in-house counsel and lawyers across the country.


Bank Lending (Including Other Sources of Financing): “[The firm] has traditional strength on the sponsor side of acquisition financing. Clients appreciate the depth of the team, which consistently ‘allocates good resources’ to clients’ needs.” 

Capital Markets: Debt Offerings - Advice to Issuers and Capital Markets: Debt Offerings - Advice to Managers: “Offering ‘great, high-quality service,’ Cleary Gottlieb fields substantial strength on the debt side and is widely regarded as having a ‘standout’ top-tier practice. Praised for its ‘deep bench of excellent lawyers’ as well as for its responsiveness, the firm advises a host of issuer and manager clients across all levels of debt market transactions, from investment-grade debt work to high-yield notes offerings and restructurings. With experience structuring debt deals sold both to U.S.-based and foreign investors, the firm is well placed to serve a variety of client needs.” 

Capital Markets: Equity Offerings - Advice to Issuers and Capital Markets: Equity Offerings - Advice to Managers: Cleary Gottlieb “fields an ‘incredibly deep pool of lawyers’ and provides ‘excellent service’ in the equity capital markets arena. Clients describe the firm as having ‘no peer in terms of securities law expertise,’ with a team of ‘intelligent, highly trained and highly motivated lawyers’ from associate to partner level. As a ‘go-to firm for thorny securities law questions,’ the group advises managers and an increasing number of issuer clients.” 

Capital Markets: Global Offerings - Advice to Corporate and Capital Markets: Global Offerings - Advice to Financial Institutions: “In addition to its superb national practice, Cleary Gottlieb has an ‘excellent’ global offerings capability, particularly in debt capital markets. The firm is present in transactions across all the major jurisdictions, and has a very active Latin American practice.” 

Capital Markets: High-Yield Debt Offerings - Advice to Issuers and Capital Markets: High-Yield Debt Offerings - Advice to Managers: “Described as ‘a very good debt shop,’ Cleary Gottlieb has extensive high-yield experience, advising both issuer and manager clients in complex transactions.”

Corporate Restructuring: The firm’s “‘facile and flexible’ core team of 11 partners provides expertise in ‘complex matters’ that frequently involve myriad legal issues, ranging from M&A to derivatives and similar complex structures. Imbued with the firm’s overall generalist approach, the team’s lawyers are well-suited to the increasingly sophisticated and often transactional nature of restructuring, and are adept at providing a one-stop-shop at handling restructuring mandates that require corporate, capital markets, litigation and financial products input. Although it is traditionally better known for its creditor work, more recently the firm has handled some big-ticket debtor mandates.”

Financial Services - Regulatory: “Based out of its New York and Washington DC offices and aided by a substantial international footprint, the ‘very strong’ team at Cleary Gottlieb is well positioned to represent clients on many of the most sophisticated domestic and cross-border mandates in the market. The ‘fluid’ practice regularly works alongside its corporate and capital markets teams to deliver work of the ‘highest caliber’ across the full spectrum of advisory, transactional and enforcement mandates. ‘Very good on counseling,’ the group has a keen understanding of developments and trends in the market and has acted for a number of major financial institutions in connection with all aspects of the Dodd-Frank Act.” 

Project Finance: Advice to Lender and Project Finance: Advice to Sponsors: The firm’s “‘very efficient and responsive’ team has a very high profile in emerging markets and particularly Latin America, where the group has a longstanding reputation in mining and other natural resources projects, while its deals in the US market are mainly sponsor driven and often on behalf of private equity clients.”

Structured Finance: “Cleary Gottlieb’s structured finance group offers ‘excellent attention to detail and knowledge of the market.’ Clients comment that the firm ‘operates on a completely different level than any other,’ and another that the firm’s contribution is ‘tremendously valuable – knowing the right thing to do in complex situations is very cost effective and a big time saver’ … The support service provided by other departments impresses: ‘the tax, regulatory and other advice, as needed, were without exception on the highest level.’ The firm’s expertise in market-leading expertise in structured finance is in demand not only for restructurings, mergers, acquisitions and investments, but also to advise on the securitization-related aspects of financial regulatory reform.”

Industry Focus

Energy: Transaction and Regulatory: “Cleary Gottlieb is ‘excellent’ and is ‘great in all aspects of its service,’ according to clients. The firm is well known for its transactional advice to large mining and metals corporations and to oil and gas clients, however it is increasing its reputation in the electric power and renewable energy space as well.”

Investment Fund Formation and Management

Private Equity Funds: The firm’s “investment management practice is developing into a highly coveted practice among GP clients, thanks in no small part to its ability to ‘stay on top of the latest developments in the area and always give a practical view of legal issues.’”


International Arbitration: “Peers say the international arbitration team at Cleary Gottlieb contains ‘great lawyers’ and is a ‘tough opponent.’ The firm has a strong mix of sovereign and commercial clients.”

Securities: Shareholder Litigation: “Praised for its ‘very in-depth knowledge of the securities litigation area,’ Cleary Gottlieb comes highly recommended by clients, who consider the firm to be ‘good value for money.’ ‘It understands both the technical litigation aspects as well as the internal political or business aspects, such as dealing with internal clients or the board, and can provide advice and guidance for all sides.’”

White-Collar Criminal Defense: “‘Thorough, thoughtful, proactive and commercial,’ [the firm’s] team is ‘in the top echelon for work in this space.’ Able to tap into the substantive expertise of lawyers in its formidable capital markets and banking groups, the practice is particularly accomplished at handling work within the financial services sector and has been at the heart of some cutting-edge issues.”

Mergers, Acquisitions and Buyouts

Antitrust: “With solid roots in Washington DC, as well as a strong presence in London and Brussels, the ‘best in class’ antitrust and competition team at Cleary Gottlieb guides clients through some of the largest and most complex merger transactions. The practice has developed ‘meaningful contacts and professional relationships with the government agencies,’ as well as a sound understanding of antitrust economics. The team is particularly strong in the hi-tech arena, often acting on behalf of private equity clients involved in hi-tech deals.”

M&A: Mega-Deals ($5bn+): “Clients rate Cleary Gottlieb’s ‘notable depth of experience and practical know-how in M&A. It works exceptionally hard and responds fast, providing strong advice even when it knows it will be difficult to receive.’ Clients also speak very highly of the firm’s associated antitrust practice. As the deal landscape transitioned from distressed to strategic, the firm has worked on a number of the most significant M&A transactions announced during the past year.”

Private Equity Buyouts: “There are few firms with an equally distinctive mega-deal record as Cleary Gottlieb.”

Real Estate and Construction

Real Estate: Cleary Gottlieb’s “team provides a ‘fantastic level of service’ and has both a national and international footprint. Its recent work includes distressed real estate investment, innovative loan restructuring transactions and new lending and development projects. It also has a deep private equity practice.”


Domestic Tax: East Coast: “Cleary Gottlieb’s nine ‘particularly well-rounded’ New York-based tax partners are essential members of the multi-disciplinary teams formed to handle the firm’s regular diet of major transactions, restructuring and complex one-off assignments. The core expertise of the group, which is ‘stocked full of excellent lawyers,’ is in corporate and capital markets advice and planning, although ancillary areas connected to deals, such as employee benefits issues, are accommodated competently.”

Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation: “Cleary Gottlieb’s highly rated New York EBEC group covers the practice area comprehensively, offering advice and support in regulation, ERISA fiduciary matters, and the compensation aspects of mergers and acquisitions. The 25-strong group, whose members ‘work as extended members of the in-house team,’ provides a ‘combination of technical skills, a practical, problem-solving mindset, and effective communication.’”

Financial Products: “Cleary Gottlieb’s New York tax department has the expertise to match the firm’s market leading structured finance and derivatives practice.”

International: “Cleary Gottlieb’s clients confirm very high standards of cross-border tax advice from the New York office, which works closely with the London-based US tax practice and other offices in Europe, Asia and the affiliated office in Argentina.”