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Among the class of 11 associates promoted to the partnership at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton recently, there are graduates of Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Columbia and the University of Chicago. And one from the 52nd Precinct. That is the South Bronx station house where, in 1982, college dropout Robert J. Raymond began his 12-year career as a New York City police officer, a career he scarcely expected would eventually lead to the partnership ranks of one of Manhattan’s most elite law firms. Indeed, 42-year-old Raymond, the Yonkers-born handyman’s son who will become a Cleary Gottlieb partner Jan. 1, said he became a lawyer only because he wasn’t sure about making lieutenant. “I was getting frustrated in my career,” said Raymond, noting the long intervals between exams for Police Department promotions. “In 1987, I was about to get married and there still hadn’t been a lieutenant’s test.” Raymond, who had been promoted to sergeant and had served in patrol, warrant and anti-crime units throughout the city, including a stint in Brooklyn’s tough Brownsville neighborhood, decided a law degree could put him on the fast track within the department’s legal bureau or at least give him options outside the department. “I thought I’d set up a little practice,” he said, “maybe doing house closings out on Long Island.” But first he had to finish college, which he did by attending morning classes at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. After earning his undergraduate degree in 1990, Raymond entered a department-sponsored night program at New York Law School. Working as a sergeant in a Queens-based inspections unit by day and studying law at night, Raymond nonetheless managed to rank near the top of his class. It was then that the idea of working at a corporate firm first occurred to him. “I thought I’d work in the legal bureau,” he said, “but I’d heard about these law firms where you make as much as a captain in your first year.” Raymond joined Cleary Gottlieb as a summer associate in 1993. His colleagues, he recalled, came from decidedly different backgrounds from his own. “There were 40 people from Harvard, Yale, NYU and Columbia,” he said. “Then there was me.” But he did not find the firm to be a closed-off clubhouse. “I felt I would be judged on my legal work,” he said, “not on what my father did for a living.” SECOND CIRCUIT CLERK Raymond joined Cleary Gottlieb permanently in 1995 after clerking for Judge Roger J. Miner of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. His practice focus has been on employment matters, particularly as arise in the context of mergers and acquisitions. Occasionally, his background comes in handy. Michael Ryan, a Cleary Gottlieb partner who has worked closely with Raymond, recalled a tough negotiation Raymond was conducting with three partners from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. Conscious that any associate might be intimidated, Ryan said he asked Raymond if he wanted a partner to back him up against the three Simpson Thacher partners. “He said, ‘It’s OK, they don’t have guns,’” Ryan recalled. Raymond said Cleary Gottlieb has become more open to hiring students from less-elite schools in recent years. He has himself played a role in recruiting students from his alma mater, New York Law School. Ryan said lawyers like Raymond frequently possess stronger judgment and interact better with clients than their counterparts with more elite credentials. “I’d much rather have the guy who’s fifth or sixth in his class at New York Law School than the Harvard Law Review editor you wouldn’t trust with your daughter,” Ryan said. For his part, though, Raymond said he has gained more respect over time for his colleagues who may have worked on the Harvard Law Review. “I used to think that people from more modest backgrounds worked harder,” he said. “I’ve come to realize that anyone who comes here is highly motivated.” Of greater advantage than social background or education, he said, is whether a lawyer has had some prior non-legal professional experience. “One thing you learn pretty quickly as a police officer is how to stay calm,” he said. “I don’t get flustered a lot.”

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