ATL Career Center Survey, Biglaw, Career Center, Law Schools, Layoffs

ATL Survey Update: Student Favorites and the Ghosts of Layoffs Past

... to take a survey.

The ATL School and Firm Insiders Survey continues to roll along at a nice clip: we expect our 3,000th respondent any minute now. While we’re pleased with this response, of course we encourage all of you who haven’t yet to take 3-5 minutes and head over here to take our absolutely confidential survey. Thanks in advance.

Last week, we shared a few broad trends we’re seeing, and today, we’ll get a little more specific and name some names.

Among other things, the survey asks law students for their perceptions of a select group of firms as potential employers. In our analysis, we’ll look at which firms are considered the most (and least) attractive by law students. We’ll also consider how these perceptions jibe with what lawyers at these firms are telling us….

And the popular kids are: Facebook’s counsel Gibson Dunn, the beautiful people of Davis Polk, Mitt’s tax advisors at Ropes & Gray, and our own Mark Herrmann’s former firm, Jones Day. To date, these four firms are law students’ most desirable potential employers.

Our survey data thus far seems to confirm the student perception of these firms as excellent places to work. Three of these firms are rated comfortably above the mean in all categories (compensation, hours, training, firm morale, and culture and colleagues): Davis Polk (“The people are incredibly nice, but also incredibly hard-working, smart, intense, and dedicated to the practice of law.”), Gibson Dunn (“work product is unparalleled in Biglaw”), and Ropes & Gray (“Lots of effort [goes] into training new associates, more than would make sense from a purely short-term economic perspective.”).

Strikingly, 100% of the lawyers from these three firms responded “yes” to the hypothetical question of whether they would choose to work for their firms again. Jones Day is faring a bit less well in our survey, with below-average scores for “culture and colleagues,” and only half of the respondents telling us they would make the same employment decision.

On the flip side, two firms stood out as the subject of the most unfavorable ratings by students: Latham & Watkins and Cadwalader. No points for guessing what these two firms have in common. Fairly or not, these two remain the poster children of the Biglaw layoff era. That today’s law students had yet to even matriculate during the purges of 2008 and 2009 goes to show how long a shadow those events still cast. But what do lawyers at these firms today have to say?

Well, the early word from inside Cadwalader is not good: the firm’s ratings are all below average, with culture and morale getting particularly low marks (“Entrepreneurial to the point of ruthlessness. Very feudal – little interaction between departments”). In contrast, it appears that internal and external perceptions of Latham are out of whack: insiders there are largely positive, rating their firm higher than the mean in all categories, with one insider gushing, “Awesome people here… I couldn’t be happier with my choice.”

Is your firm being overlooked in these findings? Overrated? You’ll find our 3-5 minute, absolutely confidential survey here. Let us know what you think.

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