Cleary Gottlieb Cleary Gottlieb

  • US Law Firms
  • London

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: 


We do not believe in a one-size-fits-all training solution. By recruiting 12 to 16 trainees each year, we are able to offer bespoke training that is tailored to our trainees’ interests, experience, and aptitudes.

Direct Responsibility

We also do not believe that the transition from trainee solicitor to associate occurs overnight on qualification. We encourage our trainee solicitors to accept increased responsibility as soon as they are ready to do so. We want our trainees to operate as lawyers from the day that they join us.


Our trainees can expect to travel during their training contracts. In addition, there are opportunities for our trainees to spend one of their seats in another of our offices, typically Hong Kong, New York, Paris, Washington, D.C., Abu Dhabi, Brussels, Buenos Aires, or Moscow.


Trainees spend six months in four different seats. In each seat, they share an office with a partner or senior associate who supervises their day-to-day workload. We actively encourage our trainees to also work with other lawyers in the office, allowing trainees to gain experience in a broader range of matters and practice areas than if they only worked with their direct supervisor.

Our lack of rigid departmental boundaries means that, unlike at many firms, trainees can see projects through from initial instruction to completion, as they have the flexibility to carry work between seats. We think this flexibility provides our trainee solicitors with the best possible preparation for practice as an associate of the firm.

Development of Our Trainees

We place great importance on the development of our trainees and on maximising their experience during the training contract. This hands-on training is supplemented by a dedicated trainee programme, which is designed to provide very real, practical support for the work undertaken by trainees across all practice areas.

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

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, it’s 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: £50,000 and £55,000 for the first and second year of the training contract and £133,000 plus 5% pension contribution.

Benefits included in the remuneration package are life insurance; private health cover and disability insurance; dental insurance: childcare vouchers; employee assistance programmes; gym subsidy; critical illness insurance; cycle to work; 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 AAA 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 12-16 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 2018

Runner Up - Best Vacation Scheme - US Firm


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.

Vacation Scheme Applications :

Applications open from 1 October 2019.

Winter placements must be submitted by 3 November 2019

Spring and Summer placements must be submitted by 31 January 2020.

Candidates for the vacation schemes will be selected through a series of assessment days.

Direct Training contract applications :

Open from 1 February 2020 must be submitted by 31 July 2020.

All correspondence pertaining to graduate recruitment can be addressed to Jessica Williams by email at or by telephone at 020 7847 6861. 

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