Cleary Gottlieb Grows in New York, Washington, D.C., and London With Addition of Three Senior Lawyers

February 22, 2022

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP announced today that Elizabeth Dyer has joined as a New York-based partner in the executive compensation, employee benefits and ERISA practice, Thomas Bednar has joined as a Washington, D.C.-based counsel in the litigation and enforcement practice, and Sophie Smith has joined as a London-based counsel in the private funds practice.

“We are delighted to welcome Liz, Tom and Sophie to our firm,” said Cleary Managing Partner Michael Gerstenzang. “Cleary’s exceptional executive compensation, employee benefits and ERISA, litigation and enforcement, and private funds practices help clients successfully navigate the increasing complexity of corporate and private equity transactions and the constantly evolving regulatory regimes around the world. Liz, Tom and Sophie build on our existing strengths in these signature practices and reflect our focus on strategic growth. Each brings deep and complementary experience in their respective disciplines that will help us continue to deliver the highest level of client service.”

Elizabeth (Liz) Dyer

Elizabeth (Liz) comes to Cleary with more than 15 years of experience advising clients on ERISA matters relating to the structuring and offering of a wide variety of investment vehicles. Liz also counsels plan sponsors, trustees, investment managers, and other service providers with respect to ERISA compliance matters, including reporting obligations and the fiduciary and prohibited transaction rules. In addition, Liz advises clients with respect to ERISA matters in structured finance transactions. Before joining Cleary, she was a partner in the Investment Funds and ERISA practice of a major global law firm.

Cleary executive compensation, employee benefits and ERISA partner Michael Albano said, “Liz’s impressive resume of advising clients on a broad range of cutting-edge ERISA issues will help us to grow and strengthen our offering to clients, particularly in the private funds area where ERISA issues are omnipresent. Her addition comes just a year after we welcomed Audry Casusol as co-leader of our practice. We know Liz will be an invaluable asset as we continue to grow and stay at the forefront of critical issues impacting our clients.”

“Our clients come to us to assist on their largest and most complex transactions and to advise on their most challenging executive compensation, employee benefits and ERISA matters,” said executive compensation, employee benefits and ERISA partner Audry Casusol. “Liz’s diverse experience dovetails nicely with our multidisciplinary approach to finding creative solutions for our clients. She will be a wonderful addition to our already formidable team.”

“Cleary has an excellent reputation for advising clients on high-profile transactions and complex and sophisticated fund formation,” said Liz. “The firm’s extremely talented lawyers, impressive group of global clients, and collaborative approach provide an incredible platform. I am thrilled to be part of this world-class team.”

Tom Bednar

Tom joins Cleary after more than a decade of government service as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and as a senior litigator for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Most recently, Tom served as Assistant Chief Litigation Counsel and Supervisory Trial Counsel in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement Trial Unit, where he provided principal strategy on litigation risk, settlement, and charging decisions. He supervised securities enforcement litigation in federal court and administrative actions, in connection with accounting and issuer disclosure fraud, crypto and cyber matters, and structured products. Prior to joining the SEC, Tom worked in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington, D.C. where he tried over 40 cases to verdict and investigated numerous complex white-collar and national security cases. Before his time in government, Tom worked as a litigation associate at another prominent Washington, D.C. firm.

“With his extensive trial experience and work on cutting-edge issues in emerging areas of the law and regulation, Tom will be a wonderful complement to our already formidable group and an excellent resource for our clients,” said Cleary litigation and enforcement partner Robin Bergen.

“I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the dedicated attorneys and staff at the SEC and, before that, at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington,” said Tom. “I’m looking forward to being part of the incredible community at Cleary and bringing my experience to bear in assisting our clients.”

Sophie Smith

Sophie joins Cleary’s global private funds team to lead the practice in London. She has nearly a decade of experience advising clients on all aspects of the structuring and operation of private investment funds across a broad range of asset classes and joins Cleary from a major international law firm, where she was a partner in the European investment funds practice.

“We believe the London funds market has a need for credible, international alternatives to the small handful of law firms that presently handle the complex needs of GP, LP and sovereign wealth fund clients,” said Tihir Sarkar, an M&A and private equity partner in Cleary’s London office. “Sophie joins at an exciting time for our London office, as we look to consolidate and expand our client offerings through the acquisition of leading talent and continued investment in our home-grown lawyers.”

“I’m really happy to have joined the team and the firm,” said Sophie. “Cleary provides an exciting platform where I can continue to service existing clients, and contribute to the sustainable growth of the practice. I’m looking forward to adding my experience to the firm’s outstanding reputation and working with colleagues and clients on this distinguished team.