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With five alumni having served as chairs of Sullivan & Cromwell—from founding partner William Nelson Cromwell to current Chair Joe Shenker—Columbia Law School and its graduates have played an essential role in the Firm for more than a century. One of the Firm’s (and the country’s) most famous lawyers, Harlan Fiske Stone, was also a graduate of Columbia Law School.

In 1874, Algernon Sydney Sullivan offered to put a bright young accountant named William Nelson Cromwell through Columbia Law School. Just three years after graduation and at the age of 25, Cromwell was asked by Sullivan to co-found the Firm. Cromwell, who was known as the “physician of Wall Street” for his successful “Cromwell Plan” to reorganize insolvent companies before federal bankruptcy law had been enacted, went on to enjoy an illustrious legal career. He is perhaps best known for his representation of the New Panama Canal Company in its development of the Panama Canal at the beginning of the 20th century. When he passed away in 1948 at the age of 94, Cromwell left substantial shares of his estate to Columbia Law School.

Today, more than 100 graduates of Columbia Law School practice at S&C. CLS graduates are represented in 10 of the Firm’s 13 offices worldwide, including Brussels, Palo Alto and Tokyo and, in addition to our chairs, many serve in significant leadership roles at the Firm. CLS partners, associates and special counsel serve on the Firm’s Management Committee, Associate Experience Committee, Diversity Committee and Women’s Initiative Committee, and several CLS alumni serve as managing partners of practice groups or offices. Many of our CLS alumni at S&C have clerked, including on the U.S. Supreme Court and at the federal appellate level.

CLS alumni at S&C work in virtually all of the Firm’s practice areas, including appellate litigation, capital markets, criminal defense and investigations, estates and personal, financial services, intellectual property, mergers and acquisitions, project finance, securities litigation and tax. S&C CLS alumni are actively involved in the Firm’s pro bono practice; recent matters include assisting the ACLU of Northern California in filing a case against the State of California alleging violations of the due process and speedy trial rights of criminal defendants who are adjudged incompetent to stand trial because of mental illness or developmental disability, extensive work on behalf of LGBT, political and other asylum seekers, representing detained immigrants in bond hearings, and preparing a resource brochure for indigenous women in Nicaragua who are victims of domestic violence in collaboration with MADRE, a human rights organization whose efforts include combatting violence against women and girls in Nicaragua, for which the team was honored by the Vance Center.

In addition to becoming partners at S&C, Columbia Law School alumni who join the Firm go on to pursue a range of prestigious opportunities. S&C alumni who attended CLS serve as counsel to Fortune 500 companies and financial institutions; partners at boutique law firms; advisors to governmental institutions, including the Department of the Treasury and the United Nations; and law professors. Esta Stecher, a former S&C partner and graduate of Columbia Law School, is the current CEO of Goldman Sachs Bank USA.

Today, S&C continues to partner with CLS both in and out of the classroom. Three S&C partners—Steve Kotran, Melissa Sawyer, and Rebecca Simmons—serve as adjunct faculty at CLS. In addition, the Firm sponsors many campus organizations, affinity groups and journals at the law school.

You can learn more about our presence at CLS on these pages. We hope to see you on campus.

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