It’s an approach that’s favored by groups such as Chambers and Partners. Instead of focusing on overall firm prestige, these rankings focus on which firms are great at their chosen specialties.
Of course, there’s a limitation to ranking firms this way. It’s more helpful for lateral hires and clients than to law students or young lawyers choosing between firms (who are often the consumers of Vault guides). Sure, young 2L, you might want to go to the top capital markets law firm in all the land — if you knew what capital markets practice entailed. Which you don’t. Specialization usually comes after you’ve been working for a couple of years, not before you even graduate from law school.
With that disclaimer, it’s still pretty interesting to see which well-known firms rose to the top in some interesting practice groups…
Vault ranks the best firms in 21 different practice areas. You can see all the top shops here.
General Commercial Litigation: Kirkland & Ellis.
The Buzz: “Collegial and very skilled litigators.”
That should make the Kirkland Kool-Aid drinkers happy.
Elsewhere, Gibson Dunn has risen to the top of another highly sought-after practice:
Appellate Litigation: Gibson Dunn & Crutcher.
The Buzz: “Innovative. Happy associates.”
And despite the firm’s recent issues, the top IP firm should come as no surprise:
Intellectual Property: Fish & Richardson.
The Buzz: “Winners.”
Let us know what you think about the best firms, by practice group — especially if you’re a client that happens to be using only the second-best firm for your legal needs.