from Brian Dalton, Breaking Media Director of Research
The ATL School and Firm Insiders Survey asks self-identified current students, alumni, and practicing lawyers to rate major aspects of life at their law school (academics, social life, clinical training, career services, financial aid advising) and/or law firm (compensation, hours, morale, culture, training). We then translate these ratings into letter grades, where the mean score for each particular ratings category is the equivalent of a “B.”
We require a minimum threshold of responses for each institution before we publish any survey-based ratings content. Using a standard formula for statistical validity, we adhere to a threshold that gives us an 85% confidence level and a 10% margin of error. The precise threshold number will of course vary depending on the size of the individual institution. For example, for a law firm of 1,000 attorneys, we would require 50 responses in order to publish ratings for the firm.
Top Practice by Headcount and Top Schools data is provided by Leopard Solutions. Leopard Solutions is a leading provider of attorney data to legal recruiters, law firms and law schools. We track attorneys in over 1500 law firms around the country and document their practice area, specialties, honors, languages advanced degrees and more. We provide an overview of each law firm as well as detailed information on individual attorneys. The data can be used to track trends, movements, growth and more.
Leverage is the number of attorneys minus equity partners, divided by equity partners.
Salaries & Compensation
Advances, Bonuses, Benefits & Stipends for First-Years
If you value cutting-edge technology to help you work more efficiently, look elsewhere. It is 2012 and we are still using Word 2003 and Excel 2003. It is quite embarrassing to have to ask to co-counsel from other firms or expert witnesses that we can’t use .docx or .xlsx formats (or use any of the benefits that those formats allow), because we live in the past insofar as technology is concerned. This has also been the case with regard to document review and analysis programs that I’ve used in my practice. On a related note, the firm has refused to support iPhones directly connected to the exchange servers. The only option they offer is a lackluster iPhone app (Good for Enterprise) that lacks a lot of the capabilities that could be realized if they allowed direct connection to the server. The firm’s position seems to be that there’s no reason to spend more money to help its associates and staff work more efficiently because that would just mean fewer hours billed per project. I don’t think they consider how their refusal to stay competitive with technological advances negatively affects moral. Or maybe they just don’t care. If their clients knew how much their bills were being inflated by the firm’s outdated technology, perhaps they’d take their business elsewhere.
There is great mentoring, respect between partners and associates, work-life balance, ability to engage in real substantive experience and gain as much responsibility as any associate wants, and the atmosphere overall is relaxed.
GREAT experience working here – I don’t think it would be possible to have learned so much in so little time anyplace else. I’ve repeatedly worked with more senior (2-3 years my senior) attorneys at “better” firms and felt that my training is already equal to or beyond theirs. And it’s not because I’m brilliant (although my mother might disagree) – the bottom line is you get more responsibility, earlier with just the right amount of training at a place like this. For the life of me I can’t imagine what junior associates from my class at other firms do (they’re never interfacing on the deals I’m on). Due diligence I guess…. It’s great working someplace where I’m already well into substance after only a short time on the job. As per scaled scores above, my hours were long this past year (but I’m naive enough to thing that’s a good thing at this stage of my career) and I’m hoping that the compensation score will jump after our bonuses are announced next month….
Employment department is intense. People hold grudges – if you do a bad assignment week 1, they will hold it against you for the rest of your summer.
More than 98 percent of the firm’s U.S.-based lawyers dedicated 20+ pro bono hours.
Advised Samsung on the $1.4 billion sale of its hard disk drive business to Seagate Technology.
Advised Deutsche Bank on first commercial mortgage-backed securities market since 2007 with £302M issue.
Represented J.P. Morgan on a landmark deal that made Coach, Inc. the first U.S. public company to list on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Sometimes, the internet seems to exist largely in order to rate things. User-generated and unverified reviews of everything from movies to cars abound. The thing with this proliferation of ratings, be they on Yelp, or Amazon, or whatever, is that we usually don’t have any idea whether or not the reviewer has any basis for his rating. (In fact, the spoof product review has become its own literary micro-genre.)
Spurious or baseless ratings are not a problem when it comes to ATL’s Insider Survey (17,300 responses and counting — thanks everyone!), in which practicing attorneys and current students evaluate their own schools or employers. Among other things, our survey asks attorneys to nominate firms with over- and underrated practices within the respondent’s own practice specialty. Litigators nominate litigation departments, etc.
Which firms do those in-the-know consider to be better (or weaker) than their reputations?
When we covered the American Lawyer’s annual summer associate satisfaction survey last year, we noted that “[b]eing a summer associate just isn’t what it used to be.” All work and no play may make summer associates dull boys and girls, but it also makes them highly confident they’ll receive offers of full-time employment when their programs end.
Despite the fact that it’s a “buyer’s market for law firms,” many of them tossed out offers to their summer classes like Mardi Gras beads. Summer associates were no longer praying for offers, as they were in certain years past; no, this summer, they almost expected offers to be handed to them.
These were the conclusions drawn from the American Lawyer’s 2014 Summer Associate Survey. Am Law polled 5,085 law students at the nation’s largest firms about their summer experiences and used the results to rank 96 programs. This year’s crop of would-be lawyers was seemingly at ease about their situations, despite the fact that there is still a general unease permeating through Biglaw.
This summer’s overall rankings were overwhelmingly positive. If you’re a law student trying to figure out where to spend your summer, you’re probably asking: which law firms came out with the highest scores?
Once again, we’ve had a slow summer in terms of summer associate gossip. Thanks to the plight of recent law school graduates and their ever-lasting joblessness, it’s a “buyer’s market for law firms” out there, and they’re using it to their advantage.
Summer associates have worked harder than ever before, and they’ve been on their best behavior. Trust us when we say we would have already heard about it if they weren’t, and the only sounds we’re heard have been the chirping of crickets.
We long for the days of lesbianic liplocks and helicopter hijinks, but we suppose we’ll have to settle for what the new normal has given us, which has been nothing short of boatloads of boring.
Given all goody-two-shoes summer associates this year, we’d like to think that offer rates will be absolutely awesome. Let’s find out which firms are rocking the 100 percent offer rate — information that rising 2Ls will want to know as the new on-campus interviewing season starts up…
Despite what you might have heard, Biglaw isn’t all about the Benjamins, and it’s not all about the prestige either. While stories abound about long days and even longer nights spent at the office, some people actually enjoy working those hours — because their firms make it somewhat pleasurable to do so.
Some firms provide the means for their associates to have a decent quality of life (see, e.g., Cleary associates who “have a baby” to go to a Katy Perry concert and Quinn associates who get paid to go away for a while), while others do not.
Do you want to work at a firm where your quality of life as an associate is rated as among the best? Vault’s annual Best Law Firms to Work For ranking will tell you where to look if you want to be truly happy…
* The Supreme Court isn’t sure how to address restitution in this child pornography case, but the justices agreed that they didn’t like the “50 percent fudge factor” offered by a government attorney. [New York Times]
* No, stupid, you can’t strike a juror just because he’s gay. By expanding juror protections to sexual orientation, the Ninth Circuit recently added a new notch on the gay rights bedpost. Progress! [Los Angeles Times]
* The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board says the NSA’s domestic surveillance program is illegal and should be stopped. Sorry, Edward Snowden beat you to the punch on that one. [New York Times]
* Dennis T. O’Riordan, the ex-Paul Hastings partner who faked his credentials, was disbarred — not in New York, where he claimed he was admitted, but across the pond in the United Kingdom. [Am Law Daily]
* The ABA Journal wants to know if your law firm considers law school pedigree during its hiring process. Please consider the law schools your firm shuts out from OCI, and respond accordingly. [ABA Journal]
* Word on the street is UALR School of Law is trying to push an affirmative action program that’s “likely unconstitutional.” It might also be insulting to prospective minority students, so there’s that. [Daily Caller]
Today in courtroom civility, we find a lawyer drafting a letter to his adversary employing some colorful language. Indeed, the title doesn’t even do his insult justice — we’ll put the whole thing after the jump so the easily offended won’t see it. This is what happens when hyper-aggressive Biglaw litigators retire: they move to Florida and keep litigating every slight they suffer in their cozy planned communities.
And if you don’t believe me that fights arise over trivial retirement home hijinks, this whole affair revolves around a card game. Bridge to be precise, and it’s spawned over 600 docket entries and a federal civil rights suit…
In the two years that we’ve been conducting our ATL Insider Survey, we’ve amassed in excess of 15,500 responses from practicing lawyers and law students. These results have provided us with unique insights into what people really think about their employers and schools. We believe our survey information furnishes our readers with a deep resource for comparing and evaluating these organizations, whether in the form of our Law Firm and Law School Directories, or in posts that take a deeper look at such factors as practice area, compensation, or geographic location. Many thanks to those thousands of readers who have shared their experiences.
Obviously, one subject that the ATL readership is passionate about is the world of Biglaw. Whether it’s to assess a potential employer, or to simply see how one’s firm compares to its peers, apparently there’s no end to the appetite for insider information. So as this year winds down, we’ll end on a happy note and have a look at which Biglaw firms are rated most highly by their own employees…
* Stan Stallworth, the Sidley partner accused of sexual assault, has hired a prominent criminal defense attorney to represent him in the case while the firm stands by its man. [Am Law Daily]
* Wall Street regulators are considering approval of a formidable version of the Volcker Rule that would ban banks from proprietary trading. Voting occurs later today. [DealBook / New York Times]
* Skadden Arps has asked a judge to toss an FLSA lawsuit filed against the firm by one of its document reviewers. Aww, silly contract attorney — there’s no way you’re getting overtime pay. [Law360 (sub. req.)]
* Weil Gotshal is still leaking like a sieve. This time, Bruce Colbath, a partner from the firm’s New York office, defected to the Antitrust and Trade Regulation practice group at Sheppard Mullin. [Market Wired]
* Lawyerly Lairs, China Edition: Raymond Li, chair of the Greater China practice at Paul Hastings, just purchased a townhouse for about $95 million — and paid “mostly in cash,” homie. [Wall Street Journal]
* They’re extremely tardy to the party, but if the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar gets its way, law schools will be subject to random audits of their employment stats. [ABA Journal]
* It’s a tough job that “can really beat you down,” but an organization called Gideon’s Promise just made it a whole lot easier for law students to secure jobs as public defenders in the South. [National Law Journal]