We’ve gotten away from plowing through the latest Vault Rankings, but fear not. Your firm is coming up soon.

We’ve been through the top 30 firms. But now we’re getting into a group of firms that really utilized the cost-cutting measures of salary cuts and layoffs to weather the recession of 2009. Did these guys take a big prestige hit? Not really. Here’s the next batch of firms:

31. Mayer Brown
32. Milbank
33. Paul Hastings
34. Akin Gump
35. Allen & Overy
36. Fried Frank
37. Irell & Manella
38. Freshfields
39. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe
40. Willkie Farr & Gallagher

Just off the top of my head, does anybody else think that Irell is coming in a little low?

Anyway, let’s get into these firms…

You can click on the links to each firm name to see the Above the Law archives, which chronicle how the various firms handled the recession.

But we don’t want to dwell on the past. Let’s look towards the future. Look at a firm like Paul Hastings, an ATL fan favorite. An interesting history, to be sure, but look at all the positive things associates say about the firm in the Vault “buzz” section:

• “Very strong labor and employment practice”
• “Middling”
• “Inconsistent firm culture”
• “Overaggressive”

Umm, okay. Well hey, at least nobody made any coat hanger jokes.

Seriously, there are good things to be said about these firms. Look at Irell. First of all, it’s all the way up to #37 from #50 last year. People are starting to realize what an amazing firm Irell is — and the good feelings are reflected in the Vault surveys:

• “Small powerhouse, brilliant thinkers”
• “Type Bs need not apply”
• “Good IP group, associates get good work early”
• “You’ll never see daylight”

Daylight is so overrated. That’s why I always wanted my office in a basement. You know, close to the Earth’s core, where it’s still warm.

Really though, most associate complaints aren’t specific to any particular firm. Check out the “downers” for Akin Gump:

• “The unpredictable hours”
• “The work can be stressful”
• “The work can be boring”

Honestly people, why even fill out a survey if that is all you have to say? You work in Biglaw; of course the hours are going to be “unpredictable.” That’s why they pay you so much damn money. And it’s probably going to be stressful if you are doing anything of import in your practice. When it’s not super-stressful, you can best believe it’ll be boring as hell.

Let us know what you think about these firms. Here’s your chance to show some pride in your place of business. Or it’s an opportunity to warn people to run away from your firm.

Earlier: Fall Recruiting Open Threads: Vault 21 – 30 (2011)
Fall Recruiting Open Threads: Vault 11 – 20 (2011)
Fall Recruiting Open Threads: Vault 1 – 10 (2011)


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