Shearman & Sterling: A Comprehensive Guide for Future Legal Professionals

Overview of Shearman & Sterling

Founded in 1873, Shearman & Sterling is a prestigious international law firm headquartered in New York City. With a rich history spanning over a century, the firm has established itself as a global leader in the legal industry, renowned for its excellence, integrity, and commitment to client service. Shearman & Sterling boasts an extensive network of offices strategically located across the Americas, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

Practice Areas and Industry Expertise 

Shearman & Sterling's wide range of practice areas and industry expertise positions the firm as a go-to destination for clients seeking comprehensive legal solutions. With a deep understanding of diverse sectors and an unparalleled commitment to excellence, the firm consistently delivers exceptional results across various areas of practice.
  • Corporate Law and Governance
    Shearman & Sterling's corporate law practice advises clients on a broad spectrum of corporate matters, including mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, corporate governance, and general corporate counseling. The firm's experienced attorneys guide clients through complex transactions, providing strategic advice tailored to their specific business objectives. Shearman & Sterling's expertise in corporate governance ensures that clients comply with regulatory requirements and adopt best practices to enhance transparency and accountability.
  • Finance and Capital Markets
    The firm has a formidable finance and capital markets practice that spans domestic and international transactions. Shearman & Sterling's finance attorneys advise clients on banking and finance matters, including syndicated loans, project finance, asset-based lending, and structured finance. In the capital markets arena, the firm assists clients in public and private offerings, securities regulations, debt and equity issuances, and compliance with stock exchange requirements.
  • Mergers and Acquisitions
  • International Arbitration and Litigation
    Shearman & Sterling boasts a robust international arbitration and litigation practice, representing clients in complex disputes across jurisdictions. The firm's attorneys deeply understand arbitration rules and procedures, acting as counsel in high-stakes international arbitrations. Shearman & Sterling is also recognized for its expertise in commercial litigation, handling disputes ranging from contract disputes to intellectual property matters. The firm's litigators are skilled advocates who employ innovative strategies to protect clients' interests in courtrooms worldwide.
  • Antitrust and Competition
    In an increasingly globalized business environment, antitrust and competition law have become critical areas for clients seeking to navigate complex regulatory landscapes. Shearman & Sterling's antitrust practice advises clients on merger control, cartel investigations, abuse of dominance cases, and compliance with antitrust laws. The firm's attorneys work closely with clients to develop effective strategies that ensure compliance while maximizing market opportunities.
  • Intellectual Property
    Shearman & Sterling's intellectual property (IP) practice helps clients protect and maximize the value of their IP assets. The firm advises on IP strategy, portfolio management, licensing, technology transfers, and IP-related disputes. With a deep understanding of the intersection between technology and the law, Shearman & Sterling assists clients in a wide range of industries, including technology, telecommunications, and life sciences.
  • Energy and Infrastructure
    The firm's energy and infrastructure practice provides comprehensive legal services to clients operating in the energy sector, including oil and gas, renewables, and power generation. Shearman & Sterling's attorneys advise on project development, project finance, regulatory compliance, and environmental matters. The firm assists clients with public-private partnerships, construction projects, and financing arrangements in the infrastructure space.
  • Technology and Telecommunications
    Shearman & Sterling recognizes the evolving legal challenges faced by clients in the technology and telecommunications sectors. The firm's attorneys assist clients in navigating issues related to data privacy, cybersecurity, licensing, telecommunications regulations, and emerging technologies. With a keen understanding of the industry's unique challenges, Shearman & Sterling offers tailored legal solutions to support clients' growth and innovation.
  • Financial Services and Regulatory Compliance
    Given the complex regulatory landscape in the financial services industry, Shearman & Sterling's financial services practice provides clients with sophisticated advice on regulatory compliance, financial transactions, fund formation, and securities regulations. The firm's attorneys assist clients in navigating regulatory requirements while staying ahead of emerging trends and industry developments.

Culture and Core Values

Shearman & Sterling's culture and core values play a vital role in shaping the firm's identity and distinguishing it as a leader in the legal industry. With a strong commitment to fostering a collaborative, diverse, and inclusive environment, the firm cultivates a culture that values integrity, excellence, teamwork, and social responsibility.
  • Collaboration and Teamwork
    At Shearman & Sterling, collaboration is at the heart of the firm's operations. Attorneys work together across practice groups, offices, and jurisdictions to provide clients seamless, integrated legal solutions. The firm's collaborative approach encourages knowledge sharing, innovative thinking, and cross-functional cooperation, allowing attorneys to leverage diverse perspectives and expertise to deliver the best outcomes for clients. By fostering a supportive and collaborative work environment, Shearman & Sterling creates a culture where individuals can thrive and reach their full potential.
  • Diversity and Inclusion
    Shearman & Sterling is deeply committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace. The firm recognizes that diversity strengthens the fabric of the organization and enriches the legal services provided to clients. Shearman & Sterling values its employees' unique experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds and actively promotes equal opportunities for all. The firm ensures that every individual feels respected, valued, and empowered to contribute their best through recruitment practices that prioritize diversity, mentorship programs, affinity groups, and inclusive policies.
  • Professional Development and Mentorship
    Shearman & Sterling places significant emphasis on professional development and mentorship. The firm is dedicated to nurturing talent, fostering growth, and providing attorneys with the resources and opportunities needed to excel in their careers. Shearman & Sterling's comprehensive training programs, both formal and informal, equip attorneys with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in their respective practice areas. Additionally, the firm offers mentorship initiatives that connect junior attorneys with seasoned professionals who provide guidance, support, and valuable career advice.
  • Work-Life Balance and Well-Being
    Recognizing the importance of work-life balance and employee well-being, Shearman & Sterling is committed to creating an environment that supports the personal and professional lives of its attorneys and staff. The firm promotes policies and initiatives that foster work-life integration, including flexible work arrangements, family-friendly policies, and wellness programs. By prioritizing the well-being of its employees, Shearman & Sterling ensures that individuals can maintain a healthy work-life balance and achieve long-term career satisfaction.
  • Pro Bono and Community Engagement
    Shearman & Sterling upholds a strong commitment to pro bono work and community engagement. The firm recognizes the responsibility to use legal skills to make a positive impact beyond the corporate sphere. Shearman & Sterling encourages its attorneys to dedicate their time and expertise to pro bono cases and community service initiatives. By partnering with nonprofit organizations, providing legal assistance to underserved communities, and participating in volunteer activities, the firm actively addresses social justice issues and improves access to justice.
  • Environmental Sustainability
    Shearman & Sterling is also committed to environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility. The firm recognizes the importance of addressing climate change and minimizing its environmental footprint. Shearman & Sterling implements sustainable practices within its operations, such as reducing energy consumption, waste management, and promoting environmentally responsible policies. By integrating sustainability into its business practices, the firm aligns its values with the global effort to protect the environment and create a more sustainable future.

Career Opportunities 

Shearman & Sterling offers a wide array of career opportunities for legal professionals at various stages of their careers. Whether you are a law student, a recent graduate, or an experienced attorney, the firm provides a supportive and dynamic environment that fosters professional growth, learning, and advancement.
  • Recruitment and Hiring
    Shearman & Sterling recruits talented individuals from top-tier law schools and universities worldwide. The firm seeks candidates who demonstrate exceptional academic achievements, legal aptitude, and a commitment to excellence. Through its rigorous recruitment process, which may include interviews, written assessments, and case studies, Shearman & Sterling identifies candidates with the potential to thrive within the firm's collaborative and client-focused culture.
  • Summer Associate Program
    Law students have the opportunity to participate in Shearman & Sterling's highly regarded Summer Associate Program. This program provides students with a unique hands-on experience, allowing them to work closely with attorneys on challenging legal projects, attend client meetings, participate in professional development seminars, and gain exposure to various practice areas. The Summer Associate Program serves as a valuable stepping stone for students interested in pursuing a career at Shearman & Sterling.
  • Training and Professional Development
    Shearman & Sterling is committed to investing in the professional development of its attorneys. The firm offers comprehensive training programs that encompass both legal and business skills development. Attorneys receive continuous learning opportunities through workshops, seminars, online resources, and on-the-job training. These initiatives are designed to enhance legal expertise, foster client-focused skills, and promote leadership and business acumen. Shearman & Sterling's commitment to professional development ensures that attorneys are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to excel in their respective practice areas.
  • Mentorship and Guidance
    Mentorship is a cornerstone of Shearman & Sterling's career development framework. The firm pairs junior attorneys with experienced mentors who provide guidance, support, and valuable insights. Mentors serve as trusted advisors, helping mentees navigate the complexities of legal practice, offering career advice, and assisting with professional growth. The mentorship program at Shearman & Sterling promotes a culture of learning, collaboration, and continuous improvement.
  • Global Exposure and Secondment Opportunities
    Shearman & Sterling's global presence offers attorneys unique opportunities for international exposure and secondment. The firm's extensive network of offices enables attorneys to work on cross-border transactions, collaborate with colleagues from different jurisdictions, and gain a global perspective. Secondment opportunities allow attorneys to work directly with clients or at other Shearman & Sterling offices, providing valuable insights into different legal systems, cultures, and business practices.
  • Path to Partnership
    Shearman & Sterling provides a clear and well-defined path to partnership for attorneys who demonstrate exceptional legal skills, leadership qualities, and a commitment to the firm's core values. The firm follows a merit-based approach, where attorneys are evaluated based on their contributions, client service, and ability to generate business. The criteria for partnership consideration include legal excellence, client development, teamwork, and a demonstrated commitment to the firm's values. Shearman & Sterling provides the necessary support, resources, and guidance to help attorneys navigate the path to partnership successfully.
  • Support for Work-Life Integration
    Recognizing the importance of work-life balance, Shearman & Sterling supports its attorneys in achieving a harmonious integration of their personal and professional lives. The firm offers flexible work arrangements, including part-time and remote work options, to accommodate individual needs and obligations. By promoting work-life integration, Shearman & Sterling fosters an environment that allows attorneys to excel in their careers while maintaining personal well-being and fulfilling personal responsibilities.
  • Alumni Network
    Shearman & Sterling maintains a strong and vibrant alumni network that connects current and former attorneys worldwide. The firm values its relationship with alumni and provides ongoing support, networking opportunities, and professional development resources to help former attorneys thrive in their post-Shearman careers. The alumni network serves as a valuable resource for mentorship, career advice, and business connections.

Path to Partnership

Shearman & Sterling provides a clear and well-defined path to partnership for attorneys who demonstrate exceptional legal skills, leadership qualities, and a strong commitment to the firm's values. The firm's partnership track offers attorneys a progressive career trajectory that rewards hard work, client service, business development, and contributions to the firm's success.

Merit-Based Advancement
Shearman & Sterling follows a merit-based approach to partnership, focusing on attorneys' individual achievements and contributions. The firm recognizes and rewards attorneys who consistently demonstrate excellence in legal skills, client service, teamwork, and ethical conduct. Advancement to partnership is not solely based on seniority or tenure but rather on an attorney's demonstrated abilities and potential to contribute to the firm's long-term success.

Criteria for Partnership Consideration
The criteria for partnership consideration at Shearman & Sterling encompass a range of factors that evaluate an attorney's overall performance and potential. While specific criteria may vary based on practice areas and regional considerations, some common factors include:
  1. Legal Excellence: Shearman & Sterling strongly emphasize legal expertise and professional competence. Attorneys aspiring to the partnership are expected to demonstrate a deep understanding of their practice area, consistently deliver high-quality work, and possess a track record of successful client representation. Legal excellence encompasses technical proficiency and the ability to provide practical and strategic advice to clients.
  2. Client Development: Building and maintaining strong client relationships is crucial for partnership consideration. Attorneys are evaluated on their ability to generate business, cultivate client trust, and expand the firm's client base. This includes a demonstrated commitment to exceptional client service, responsiveness, and a proactive approach to identifying and addressing clients' needs.
  3. Teamwork and Collaboration: Shearman & Sterling value attorneys who foster a collaborative work environment and contribute to the success of the broader team. Partnership candidates are expected to demonstrate effective communication skills, the ability to work seamlessly with colleagues across practice areas and jurisdictions, and a willingness to share knowledge and mentor junior attorneys. Strong teamwork and collaboration skills are essential for building strong relationships within the firm and delivering integrated legal solutions to clients.
  4. Leadership and Initiative: Leadership qualities, including the ability to take the initiative, inspire others, and lead by example, are highly regarded in partnership consideration. Attorneys who exhibit leadership potential often take on additional responsibilities, contribute to firm initiatives, and actively participate in professional development activities. They demonstrate a commitment to the firm's values and contribute to its growth and success.
  5. Contribution to the Firm: Partnership candidates are evaluated on their overall contributions to the firm. This includes active participation in firm-wide initiatives, engagement in pro bono work and community service, and a commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion. Attorneys who have positively impacted the firm's culture, reputation, and overall success are well-positioned for partnership consideration.
Support and Guidance
Shearman & Sterling provides support and guidance to attorneys on the partnership track. The firm offers mentorship programs that connect junior attorneys with experienced partners who provide valuable advice, career guidance, and support throughout the partnership journey. Mentors offer insights into building a successful practice, navigating firm dynamics, and honing the skills necessary for partnership consideration.

Business Development Skills
Developing business development skills is crucial for attorneys aspiring to the partnership. Shearman & Sterling offers training and resources to help attorneys cultivate their business development acumen, including workshops, networking opportunities, and mentorship. Attorneys are encouraged to build relationships with clients, expand their professional networks, and proactively seek business development opportunities.

Evaluation and Advancement Process
The evaluation and advancement process at Shearman & Sterling typically involves regular performance reviews and assessments by partners and practice group leaders. These evaluations consider an attorney's progress in meeting the criteria for partnership consideration and their overall contribution to the firm. Feedback and guidance are provided to support attorneys in their development and advancement toward partnership.
Collaboration Across Offices and Practices
Shearman & Sterling's global presence and integrated approach to client service create opportunities for collaboration across offices and practices. Attorneys on the partnership track are encouraged to leverage the firm's global resources, work collaboratively with colleagues from diverse backgrounds, and participate in cross-border matters. This exposure to different practice areas and jurisdictions enhances attorneys’ skills, expands their network, and strengthens their candidacy for partnership.

Notable Projects and Awards

Shearman & Sterling has a long-standing reputation for successfully handling high-profile projects and transactions across various industries and practice areas. The firm's commitment to excellence, client service, and innovative legal solutions has been recognized through numerous awards and accolades. Some notable projects and awards highlight Shearman & Sterling's expertise and accomplishments.

High-Profile Projects

  1. Mergers and Acquisitions: Shearman & Sterling has been involved in significant mergers and acquisitions, advising clients on complex transactions that shape industries and markets. Whether it's a cross-border merger, a strategic acquisition, or a private equity deal, the firm's attorneys bring deep industry knowledge, legal expertise, and transactional skills to facilitate successful outcomes for clients.
  2. Capital Markets Offerings: Shearman & Sterling has played a pivotal role in capital markets offerings, assisting clients in raising funds and accessing global capital markets. The firm has advised on initial public offerings (IPOs), debt issuances, and other securities offerings, demonstrating its ability to navigate complex regulatory frameworks and provide effective counsel to clients.
  3. Project Finance: Shearman & Sterling has been involved in significant project finance transactions globally, assisting clients in financing major infrastructure projects, energy projects, and other large-scale developments. The firm's attorneys combine legal expertise with an understanding of project finance's unique challenges and complexities, helping clients navigate intricate financing structures and achieve their project goals.
  4. Dispute Resolution: Shearman & Sterling has represented clients in high-stakes disputes and arbitration proceedings, both domestically and internationally. The firm's attorneys have successfully handled complex commercial disputes, investor-state arbitrations, and other contentious matters, leveraging their deep understanding of the law and their clients' industries to secure favorable outcomes.

Awards and Recognitions

  1. Chambers and Partners: Shearman & Sterling consistently receives top-tier rankings in the prestigious Chambers and Partners legal directory. The firm's various practice areas, including Corporate/M&A, Capital Markets, Banking and Finance, and Dispute Resolution, have been recognized for their excellence and expertise. Chambers and Partner’s rankings reflect the firm's commitment to delivering outstanding client service and legal solutions.
  2. The Legal 500: Shearman & Sterling is regularly recognized by The Legal 500 across a wide range of practice areas. The firm's attorneys have received accolades for their deep industry knowledge, client-focused approach, and ability to handle complex and innovative transactions. The Legal 500 rankings underscore the firm's commitment to delivering high-quality legal services to clients worldwide.
  3. IFLR1000: Shearman & Sterling's expertise in finance and capital markets has been recognized by the International Financial Law Review (IFLR1000). The firm has consistently received high rankings for its work in banking, project finance, and capital markets. These rankings highlight the firm's ability to navigate complex financial transactions and provide clients with comprehensive legal advice.
  4. Euromoney Legal Media Group Americas Women in Business Law Awards: Shearman & Sterling has been honored at the Euromoney Legal Media Group Americas Women in Business Law Awards, which celebrate the achievements of leading women lawyers and firms committed to gender diversity and inclusion. The firm's commitment to promoting diversity and gender equality within the legal profession has been recognized through these prestigious awards.
  5. Diversity and Inclusion Recognitions: Shearman & Sterling's dedication to fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace has garnered recognition from various organizations. The firm has been honored by organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign, Working Mother, and the Diversity Lab for its efforts in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion within the legal profession. Shearman & Sterling's commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive environment is reflected in its awards and the firm's initiatives and programs to support underrepresented groups and advance diversity in the legal industry.
  6. Pro Bono and Community Service Awards: Shearman & Sterling's commitment to pro bono work and community service has been acknowledged through numerous awards and honors. The firm encourages its attorneys to dedicate their time and legal expertise to serving disadvantaged communities and supporting charitable organizations. Shearman & Sterling's pro bono efforts have been recognized by organizations such as The American Lawyer, Pro Bono Institute, and TrustLaw, underscoring the firm's commitment to making a positive impact beyond its commercial practice.
  7. Client and Industry Recognitions: Clients and industry publications have acknowledged Shearman & Sterling's dedication to client service and its ability to deliver exceptional legal solutions. The firm has received client-driven awards and accolades, including recognition as a "Client Service A-Team" by BTI Consulting Group. These recognitions reflect the firm's unwavering commitment to understanding and meeting client’s needs, providing tailored advice, and delivering value-added services.

Thought Leadership and Publications

Shearman & Sterling is known for its thought leadership and contributions to legal publications. The firm's attorneys regularly publish articles, white papers, and legal updates that provide insights into emerging legal issues, industry trends, and regulatory developments. Shearman & Sterling's thought leadership demonstrates its deep understanding of the legal landscape and its commitment to sharing knowledge and expertise with clients and the broader legal community.


Shearman & Sterling's reputation as a leading international law firm rests on its rich history, commitment to excellence, diverse practice areas, and dedication to client service. This comprehensive guide has provided valuable insights into the firm's culture, career opportunities, and notable achievements. Whether you aspire to join their ranks or are simply curious about the legal industry, Shearman & Sterling offers a compelling destination for future legal professionals seeking a challenging and rewarding career.
By leveraging its global presence, industry expertise, and commitment to professional development, Shearman & Sterling remains at the forefront of the legal profession, making a lasting impact on clients and communities around the world.