Forget about prestige (momentarily). Which firms have the best quality of life?

Vault has compiled its annual Law Firm Quality of Life Rankings, based on associate surveys. Associates were asked to rate their firms on “overall satisfaction, associate/partner relations, firm culture, hours, compensation, office space, training, and pro bono and green initiatives.”

Williams & Connolly managed to get into the top ten on both the quality of life (#2) and prestige (#8) lists. (UPDATE: Vault sent along a new list without ties.) Here are the top five on the “Quality of Life” list:

1. Ropes & Gray
2. Williams & Connolly
3. Morrison & Foerster
4. Fitzpatrick, Cella, Harper & Scinto
5. Shook, Hardy & Bacon

At which two other firms can you let your hair down, but keep your nose in the air?

(UPDATE: Vault sent along a new list without ties.) Here’s the rest of the top ten:

6. Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP
7. Jones Day
8. Davis Polk & Wardwell
9. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
10. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Affiliates

Davis Polk and Skadden join Williams Connolly in the top ten for both prestige (#4 and #5) and decent workplace environments.

Check out the rest of the top 20 list over here. You’ll find Tampa-based Carlton Fields farther down the list. We can’t believe they didn’t make the top ten — we know they treat their associates well. You’ll see that Cleary Gottlieb dropped a spot in the rankings, even though we’ve heard that the New York office got greener this year, having recently instituted indoor bike parking.

Vault had praise for the number one firm in its press release:

“Ropes & Gray ranking as the No. 1 ‘Best Firm to Work For’ in consecutive years is a remarkable testament to the way the firm manages to combine a high level practice with a collegial and respectful culture,” said Brian Dalton, managing editor at Vault.com.

On what sets the firm apart, one Ropes & Gray senior tax associate spoke for many of his peers: “There just is no better place to be. The partners are friendly, smart, supportive and a lot of fun to work with. The variety and caliber of the works is also top drawer. I could not be happier.”

Vault’s Brian Dalton explains the methodology and the top firms for each category here.

We know this is all relative and that law firms might suffer in comparison to actual quality-of-life professions, such as being a flight attendant. Regardless, congrats to the happy lawyers at Ropes & Gray, whose firm topped the list two years in a row. We hope you celebrate by clocking out at 5 p.m. today.

Law Firm Rankings 2011: The 20 Best Law Firms to Work For [Vault]
And the 2011 Vault Law “Best Firm to Work For” is… [Vault Blogs]

Earlier: The 2011 Vault Rankings Are Out!
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