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Biglaw’s Most Overrated Firms by Practice Area

Around here, one can’t mention the concept of something being “overrated” without reference to one of the weirdest and most enduring ATL comment memes, a play on the late, great Hitch’s assertion that the four most overrated things in life are “champagne, lobster, anal sex, and picnics.” So who are the, um, lobsters of Biglaw?

Last week, we had a look at what our audience considered to be the most underrated Biglaw firms, by practice area. Today, inevitably, we turn it around and have a look at what you’re telling us are the most overrated firms.

Among other things, our ATL Insider Survey asks attorneys to nominate firms with overrated practices within the respondent’s own practice specialty. Litigators nominate litigation departments, etc.

To be sure, these survey results need to be taken with some buckets of salt — we realize that, for some, answering this question might be a chance to take an easy shot at a more successful rival or competitor. Of course, there are crazy people who will tell you that such paragons as Benjamin Franklin or Tom Brady are “overrated,” but that probably says more about the person making that statement than anything else. But that said, these survey responses are a fun glimpse at which firms Biglaw attorneys think are more sizzle than steak….

Below are the top three most overrated firms in each practice area, as voted by the ATL readership:

One bankruptcy lawyer opined: “They’re the best debtor shop but they don’t sh*t Tiffany cufflinks like some people think.” No points for guessing the firm to which he’s referring.

Most Overrated Bankruptcy Practices

Weil Gotshal
Jones Day

For our next category, “overrated” apparently means “having an impeccable white-shoe pedigree.”

Most Overrated Corporate Practices

Sullivan & Cromwell
Davis Polk

The litigation category generated the most spirited feedback. One of the main themes: Biglaw litigators aren’t really litigators. Some representative comments:

“They send of counsel to every court appearance except for settlement conferences or trials — meaning, most of their associates never see the inside of a court building. And yet they call themselves litigators?”

“Every large firm that charges $800 per hour and spends 35 hours drafting discovery responses.”

“All of Biglaw since they don’t try cases just move paper around on their desks.”

Most Overrated Litigation Practices

“All of Biglaw”

Morgan Lewis made the shortlists for both overrated and underrated employment practices:

Most Overrated Labor & Employment Practices

Littler Mendelson
Paul Hastings
Morgan Lewis

Some firm name alliteration in the tax category:

Most Overrated Tax Practices

Shearman & Sterling
Sidley Austin

Despite Fish and Richardson’s highly lauded practices, some ATL readers don’t believe the hype:

Most Overrated IP Practices

Fish & Richardson
Finnegan, Henderson
Quinn Emanuel

This is Skadden’s third appearance on these lists. Tall poppy syndrome, anyone?

Most Overrated Antitrust/Regulatory Practices

Cleary Gottlieb

So what say you — any surprises here? Any overhyped firms being overlooked? Let us know in the comments. (If you haven’t yet, please take five minutes and take our survey here.)

ATL Law Firm Directory
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