Biglaw, Contests, March Madness, Partner Issues, Partner Profits, Reader Polls

ATL March Madness: The Law Firm With the Brightest Future

Continuing our annual tradition honoring March Madness, Above the Law is running a law-related bracket, advancing law firms or law schools based on the outcome of reader polls. If you’ve been around for a while, you know the drill. But remember, I’m the new guy, so I’ve made a couple changes to the format this year.

Last year, you hoisted the Lantern of Diogenes to find the Most Honest Law School, and determined that the University of Michigan Law School was the most on the level. And they backed your faith by admitting that one of their graduates had become a shepherd.

This year, it’s time to talk about law firms. Specifically, your collective editors pose this question: Which law firm has the brightest future? The economy is still fragile and people are writing books with scary titles like The Lawyer Bubble: A Profession in Crisis (affiliate link). The firms in our competition may look healthy today, but we all could have said the same thing at one time about Howrey, Brobeck, Heller, or Dewey.

What firm’s future is so bright their senior partners gotta wear shades?

First of all, like the real NCAA tournament, we’ve decided to expand the field! Instead of our customary 16 invitees, a full 32 firms will compete in this year’s contest, meaning we’ve got enough entrants to warrant creating some regions. In lieu of geography, we’ll go with the aforementioned, gone-but-not-forgotten firms of Howrey, Brobeck, Heller, and Dewey — the lights dimmed far too soon for you all.

In another change, this year we selected the competitors using the profit per partner rankings from the 2012 Am Law 100 (the 2013 rankings aren’t out yet). If you’re unhappy with the seeding, take it up with firm management for not profiting more in 2011.

(For the record, the law firms that got their bubbles burst were Shearman & Sterling, Jenner & Block, Ropes & Gray, and Alston & Bird. Sorry about missing the Dance.)

Law firms will advance to the next round based on reader polls, in which we ask you which law firm has the brightest future. You can define that however you choose. Possible factors to consider include the top talent at a firm, practice area strengths, global footprint (or lack thereof), firm culture — but really it’s up to you. Feel free to justify your votes in the comments.

The polls are below. The first round will close on TUESDAY, MARCH 26, at 11:59 PM (Eastern). Vote early, and tell your colleagues and friends.

DEWEY REGION

Which firm has the brightest future?

  • Wachtell (91%, 2,367 Votes)
  • Fried Frank (9%, 227 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,594

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Which firm has the brightest future?

  • Davis Polk (63%, 1,640 Votes)
  • Latham (37%, 947 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,587

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Which firm has the brightest future?

  • Simpson (73%, 1,823 Votes)
  • Wilson Sonsini (27%, 662 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,485

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Which firm has the brightest future?

  • Cleary (72%, 1,786 Votes)
  • O'Melveny (28%, 706 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,492

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HOWREY REGION

Which firm has the brightest future?

  • Cravath (86%, 2,167 Votes)
  • Proskauer (14%, 353 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,520

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Which firm has the brightest future?

  • Skadden (72%, 1,814 Votes)
  • Debevoise (28%, 715 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,529

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Which firm has the brightest future?

  • Gibson Dunn (87%, 2,148 Votes)
  • Dechert (13%, 329 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,477

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Which firm has the brightest future?

  • Cahill Gordon (55%, 1,334 Votes)
  • Akin Gump (45%, 1,093 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,427

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BROBECK REGION

Which firm has the brightest future?

  • Quinn Emanuel (67%, 1,649 Votes)
  • Sidley Austin (33%, 812 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,461

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Which firm has the brightest future?

  • Cadwalader (62%, 1,407 Votes)
  • Schulte Roth (38%, 854 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,261

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Which firm has the brightest future?

  • Milbank (62%, 1,408 Votes)
  • King & Spalding (38%, 853 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,261

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Which firm has the brightest future?

  • Kirkland (88%, 2,052 Votes)
  • Hughes Hubbard (12%, 273 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,325

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HELLER REGION

Which firm has the brightest future?

  • Paul, Weiss (85%, 1,914 Votes)
  • Bingham (15%, 342 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,256

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Which firm has the brightest future?

  • Boies Schiller (70%, 1,589 Votes)
  • Paul Hastings (30%, 666 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,255

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Which firm has the brightest future?

  • Weil, Gotshal (86%, 1,925 Votes)
  • Wilkie (14%, 316 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,241

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Which firm has the brightest future?

  • Sullivan & Cromwell (92%, 2,101 Votes)
  • Kramer Levin (8%, 172 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,273

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Earlier: The 2012 Am Law 100: Revenue and Profits Continue To Climb
Now That’s Transparency: ‘Most Honest Law School’ Admits a Graduate Is Employed as a ‘Sheep Farmer’

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