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The US Method: The Origins of Shearman & Sterling LLP

The catalogue of different US legal dramas provides a contentious outlook to what it really means to be working in a US firm. Are the stakes always as high as Elle Woods says? Is the environment as cut-throat as Pearson Hardman? Are US-trained lawyers better lawyers than you? These are all questions that ponder aspiring lawyers’ minds, and can even dissuade them from applying to these firms. But, using Shearman & Sterling LLP as an example, the reality is very different, indeed. While you will always be required to work at your best and strive for excellence, there is much more to uncover from these firms. And we can only really understand this by understanding the firm’s core history.

Found in 1873 by Thomas Shearman, the firm primary focuses on finance related litigation and transactional matters. Earning its place its one of Wall Street’s major legal hubs. With this status came major clients, such as Jay Gould and Henry Ford. This prestigious client base only grew to be more impressive, with more current clients including Nokia, Citibank (an original client), Sony, and General Electrics. With these recognisable named emerged an even-more recognisable and prestigious firm. Not only can Shearman boast about their excellent reputation, their proficiency for pro bono work has long been ingrained in their history. This is dutifully exemplified by their work vital work in the Brady transactions, helping to reorganise the Latin American economy during financial difficulty. Today, they propagate an awareness of commercial responsibility, requiring that their lawyers complete pro bono work during their time.

In addition to this, Shearman’s plethora of diversity programmes ensures that they are constantly bettering themselves. With their annual Women in Law Conference having just taken place on the 16th of October, their plethora of inclusion events showcases their ethos of improvement and understanding. Shearman’s 23 offices around the world (with new offices in Seoul and Texas) includes lawyers from over 80 jurisdictions. Along with 7 years of consistent growth, this firm is only on a trajectory to become the best of the best.However, with open days and vacation scheme deadlines fast approaching, there is still time for dedicated, passionate, and talented students to become part of their history and make sustainable change. Perhaps, what is needed is a change of minds a what a stereotypical US firm really is. While there definitely won’t be as much drama or sabotage as Pearson-Hardman,there will be the promises of meaningful, exciting, challenging work. 


Law student, avid writer, and all-round opinionated. Keenly interested in charity work, the world of literature, and creativity, this account will be dedicated towards creating articles filled with stories, statements, and views.
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