Cleary Gottlieb Cleary Gottlieb

  • US Law Firms

Training Contract

  • Places: 15- 20 per year

Vacation Scheme

  • Places: 48 per year

Firm stats

  • Total employees: 3000 Globally




Usually referred to as Cleary Gottlieb, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP is an international law firm, positioned as one inclusive partnership. The firm operates out of 16 offices across the US, Latin America, Europe, the Far East and the Middle East; employing around 1,200 lawyers in Washington, New York, London, Paris, Brussels, Moscow, Beijing, Hong Kong, Rome, Cologne, Milan, Frankfurt, Buenos Aires, Sao Paolo, Abu Dhabi and Seoul.

Cleary Gottlieb was established in 1946 with offices in New York and Washington, with the first overseas office being opened in Paris in 1949. The London branch opened for business in 1971 and in recent times has represented clients such as ArcelorMittal, HSBC Holdings Plc, Ferrari and Bank of America.

Training Contract

The top five reasons you should consider a training contract at Cleary Gottlieb:

- Exceptionally high percentage of trainee solicitors offered a position on qualification every year since 1997, when the UK graduate recruitment scheme was introduced.

- No departmental segregation, allowing lawyers to work across the practice on deals and cases they find interesting.

- Focused on organic expansion, i.e. promoting in-house talent to partnership roles, rather than lateral hiring.

- Opportunity to work with lawyers from other offices in teams handling clients with deals which are not limited by geography or jurisdiction.

- A relaxed and informal work atmosphere which encourages collaboration and knowledge-sharing; a variety of interesting work and rewards matching performance.

With a worldwide practice operating as a single and integrated service, A list of practice areas, industries and geographical locations is given below.

Areas of Practice: 

Competition and Antitrust, Banking & Financial Institutions, Capital Markets, Insolvency and Restructuring, Litigation and Dispute Resolution, Employment, Benefits and Compensation, Finance: Structured, Acquisition and Leveraged, Project and Infrastructure, M and A and Joint Ventures, Corporate Governance, Private Clients and Charities, Private Equity, Energy and Environment, Intellectual Property, Derivatives, Trade and Investment, Privatisation, Pro Bono, Regulatory and Compliance, Tax and Corporate Defence, Investigations and Enforcements.


Aviation, Aerospace and Airlines, Banking and Financial Institutions, Automotive, Infrastructure and Construction, Retail and Consumer Goods and Services, I.T. and Systems, Industrial/Manufacturing, Advertising and Media, Mining and Metals, Life Sciences and Pharmaceuticals, Private Equity, Property and Real Estate, Governments/International Bodies, Energy and Telecommunications.


Africa, Asia, Belgium, China, European Union, France, Germany, India, Italy, Korea, Latin America, Middle East, Russia, United Kingdom and USA. 

The role hierarchy in Cleary Gottlieb is based on the number of years in practice post qualification and performance. The order of progress through the period of employment, from trainee solicitor to partner is as follows: (a) Trainee; (b) Associate; (c) Senior Attorney; (d) Counsel; and (e) Partner.

The roles of Senior Attorney and Counsel are established as alternatives to the partnership track, for employees the firm wants to retain, though it is quite possible that individuals in these roles can still be voted in as partners.

Vacation Scheme

Four vacation placement schemes are offered through the year with a total intake of 48 trainees: (a) winter placement scheme for 12 students; (b) spring vacation scheme for 12 students; and (c) two summer vacation programmes with 12 students in each batch.

The firm recommends that students interested in a career at Cleary Gottlieb attend one of these programmes to familiarise themselves with the firm, its work, people and processes.

The programmes consist of practical work experience on actual deals and cases, presentations on each area of practice within the London office and interaction with the present batch of trainees, other associates and partners in official social events.

Salary & Benefits

The firm provides full sponsorship for the LPC and GDL courses, for candidates who’ve accepted a training contract as well as an annual stipend of £8,000 for each course. Salaries are extremely generous: £48,000 and £52,000 for the first and second year of the training contract and £105,000 plus 5% pension contribution.

Benefits included in the remuneration package are life insurance cover for a value of twice annual salary; private health cover and disability insurance; childcare vouchers; employee assistance helpline; gym subsidy; and a subsidized staff restaurant.. In addition, trainees receive 25 days holidays each year. Trainee solicitors are also eligible for the year-end discretionary bonus scheme, which operates solely on the firm-wide policy of compensation according to levels of seniority.

Students attending vacation placement schemes receive a weekly payment of £500. 


Cleary Gottlieb only takes on trainees of the highest calibre in terms of abilities and skills; this means a minimum achievement of AAB grades at A-levels and a high 2:1 degree in any discipline.

Apart from these, prospective trainees should be all-rounders, with demonstrated evidence of non-academic activities and interests; knowledge of a foreign language is an added advantage, given the global nature of the firm’s practice.

The requirements for acceptance into any of the four vacation placement programmes are also the same as above. The programmes are open to penultimate law, and final year non-law undergraduates as well as freshly-qualified graduates across disciplines.

The firm requires all trainees who’ve accepted offers from the firm, to study the GDL, LPC and PSC at the University Of Law.

Each year, the firm inducts 12-15 trainee solicitors for the two year training contract. Trainees can choose any four seats from the list of practice options and are assigned to sit with a partner or senior lawyer for day-to-day assignments and casework. However, trainees can also work with colleagues and/or teams working in other practice areas, in addition to the current seat, in order to facilitate a wider range of experience and learning.

Trainees also have the flexibility to continue working on a particular deal or assignment, even if the six month period is completed for a particular seat, to be able to experience a case from start to finish, irrespective of the time taken.

The formal training programme is designed to meet trainee aspirations while fulfilling mandatory requirements stipulated by the SRA. A major portion of the PSC is completed within the first year of the training contract and in-house practice-based training sessions are organised for all trainees, covering each and every practice, not just on the basis of seats taken.

Other learning opportunities are provided via weekly meetings of the whole firm and frequent meetings of all lawyers across all the European branches.


AllAboutLaw Awards 2017

Vacation Scheme Score: 89.5%

Finalist - Best Vacation Scheme – US Firm

Finalist- Best Opportunities for Career Progression - Training Contract

Finalist- Top Law Firm for Training Contracts & Vacation Schemes


Applications for training contracts and vacation placements should be made by completing the online form here, and attaching your latest, updated CV; a covering letter and a detailed listing of all completed academic qualifications (A-levels or equivalent and degree studies), along with contact details of academic referees.

Training contract applications must be submitted by 31st July, for winter placements by 4th November, spring and summer placements by 28th January. Candidates for the vacation schemes will be selected through a series of open days.

All correspondence pertaining to graduate recruitment can be addressed to Claire Astbury by email at or by telephone at 020 7847 6860. 

Applications open from 1 October 2017.