For a couple months now, we’ve run an occasional series, drawing on the ATL Insider Survey, comparing firms and law schools in various geographic locales. Thus far, we looked at Boston, Chicago, New York, and “the South.”

Today, we turn toward Texas. Texas is beloved here at ATL as an apparently bottomless source of colorful legal news. The state is a frequent battleground for high profile constitutional fights while also generating a steady stream of tabloid fodder, from “judges behaving badly” to “tragic homicidal mayhem.” (Of course, there’s also the running joke among the ATL commentariat that, for what a New York Biglaw associate pays for his cramped studio apartment, one can buy a 3,500-square-foot wife house in Texas.)

But of course this is a limited, distorted view of the legal industry in Texas. Texas is a huge, diverse state with a relatively strong economy and a unique legal culture. Biglaw firms thrive in all three major cities, both local outposts of national firms, or more significantly, Texas-bred firms such as Baker Botts and Vinson & Elkins. Our ATL Insider Survey (13,000+ responses and going strong, thanks), asks attorneys at firms to evaluate their employers in terms of compensation, hours, training, morale, and culture. After the jump, we’ll look at how firms in Texas stack up in these categories — and how they compare to the national averages…

The Insider Survey asks respondents to rate their firms in each category on a scale of 1 through 10 (with 10 being the best). Please keep in mind that we only publish rating for firms for which we have sufficient survey responses. Obviously, there are major firms missing. So, lawyers at, say, Susman Godfrey or the Houston Weil office or any other firm left out here, please take our survey here and we’ll revisit Texas when we compile more information.

Compensation

1. Haynes & Boone: 9.33
2. Jones Day: 8.37
3. Akin Gump: 8.32
4. Baker Botts: 7.82
5. Vinson & Elkins: 7.67
6. Fulbright & Jaworski: 7.62

Texas Average: 8.18
National Average: 7.48

Hours

1. Haynes & Boone: 8.0
2. Fulbright & Jaworski: 7.54
3. Jones Day: 6.93
4. Akin Gump: 6.73
5. Baker Botts: 6.45
6. Vinson & Elkins: 5.87

Texas Average: 6.92
National Average: 7.17

Firm Morale

1. Haynes & Boone: 9.17
2. Jones Day: 7.52
3. Fulbright & Jaworski: 7.0
4. Vinson & Elkins: 6.87
5. Akin Gump: 6.82
6. Baker Botts: 6.0

Texas Average: 7.23
National Average: 7.18

Training

1. Haynes & Boone: 8.33
2. Jones Day: 7.41
3. Fulbright & Jaworski: 7.15
4. Vinson & Elkins: 6.93
5. Akin Gump: 6.82
6. Baker Botts: 6.0

Texas Average: 7.1
National Average: 7.09

Culture & Colleagues

1. Haynes & Boone: 9.5
2. Vinson & Elkins: 8.67
3. Fulbright & Jaworski: 8.23
4. Jones Day: 8.15
5. Akin Gump: 7.5
6. Baker Botts: 7.45

Texas Average: 8.25
National Average: 7.99

OVERALL SCORES (with quotes from our survey responses)

1. Haynes & Boone: 8.87

The firm culture is about as family-friendly as you can get in Biglaw. People understand when you have family commitments, nearly all of the married lawyers have successful marriages, and there is no expectation to work ungodly hours unless you’re immediately closing a deal or prepping for trial the next day.

2. Fulbright & Jaworski: 8.23

Fulbright has a unique culture. While it is Biglaw, there is a boutique-feel at some points in time. The partners and associates hang out on weekends and go to lunch with each other (as opposed to having an “us vs. them” feel). The people here also seem to give a lot of latitude for someone having personal struggles.

3. Jones Day: 8.15

People are great. Culture is relational and easy-going. Partners insist you call them by their first name. Feedback and mentorship are outstanding.

4. Vinson & Elkins: 7.68

I can’t imagine a better combination of work and people in the entire country. A wonderful place to practice law.

5. Akin Gump: 7.5

The people are awesome. I feel very comfortable at the office the entire time. The attorneys also know how to let loose and have a good time at night.

6. Baker Botts: 7.45

The hours are relatively good. The partners don’t push you to work to death.

Texas Average: 7.98
National Average: 7.38

So congrats to Haynes & Boone for sweeping all categories. And a tip of the Stetson to Texas Biglaw generally, where the stars at night are big and bright, and attorneys rate their firm experiences higher than the national average in nearly all categories. Particularly striking were the comparatively higher ratings for compensation and overall score. Finally, for those of you who have yet to do so — whether in Texas or elsewhere — please take a few minutes and take the ATL Insider Survey. Thank you.


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