Staci here. Earlier this month, Vault released its closely watched rankings of the nation’s 100 most prestigious law firms. It was there that we learned Wachtell Lipton held onto its title as the most prestigious firm in America for the twelfth year in a row — but not by much. Cravath was very close to snatching the crown, and we’ll see how this grudge match pans out next year.
In the meantime, please don’t think that we’ve forgotten how much our loyal readers enjoy Biglaw rankings. Perhaps your firm isn’t the most prestigious, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have clout. Some law firms reign supreme when it comes to certain practice areas, and others are known to dominate entire regions of the country.
Which law firms are considered to be at the top of their game by practice area and region? Let’s find out!
When women in law aren’t being told how to dress and act appropriately, they’re busy watching their firms brag about their dedication to advancing women in the profession, while at the same time being constantly passed over for partnership promotions and leadership positions in favor of their male colleagues. That doesn’t seem fair, does it?
We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: “Biglaw lives to serve men, and in most cases, they are the ones claiming all of the power, the prestige, and most importantly, the money, while women are left in the dust.” At some large law firms, it’s a different story. Some firms offer women the chance to rise through the ranks to become major power players and to receive startlingly booming compensation — and rank among the most family friendly.
Thanks to the Women in Law Empowerment Forum (WILEF), we have a way to find out exactly which firms are on top when it comes to offering women attorneys the chance to perform on par with their male colleagues in terms of prestige and pay. Let’s check out the list…
It pains me to say this, given my own predilection for prestige worship, but here’s a question: does prestige matter as much as it used to? In an era of greater access to information, a law firm’s overall prestige arguably matters less than it once did.
If a client is looking for an excellent firm in a particular practice area, it can now easily access information about which firms, and even which individual lawyers, excel in which niches. It no longer has to rely on a firm’s brand name as a proxy for a specific strength. And other factors matter to the public as well. Is a firm a good place to work? How stable is its partnership, in this era of increased lateral movement? Is the firm growing or declining?
But make no mistake: prestige is still hugely important. Which is why the Vault law firm rankings are so eagerly anticipated each year.
The latest rankings from Vault of the country’s 100 most prestigious law firms just came out. How do they look?
* The latest Vault 100 rankings are out, and it’s time to find out which Biglaw firm is the most prestigious in all the land. Is it Wachtell? Is it Cravath? We’ll have the answer for you, and much more analysis, later today. [Vault]
* A former office manager at Vedder Price has been accused in a $7M embezzlement scandal. She allegedly used the money to buy “lavish homes, numerous vacations” — it’s as if she were trying to live like a partner. [ABA Journal]
* Since the Redskins’ trademark was canceled by the Patent and Trademark Office, sports fans are wondering whose offensive team name is next. The Cleveland Indians might get scalped. [WSJ Law Blog]
* According to ALM Legal Intelligence, paralegal pay is on the rise, and it’s almost $80/hr in top roles. Why should new attorneys care about this? Because they’ll probably have to work as paralegals. [ALM]
* Double the deanships, double the fun: Penn State Law’s campuses have been approved by the ABA to become separately accredited locations. We’ll take bets on which one closes first. [StateCollege.com]
Recently, a solo practitioner somewhere in the Midwest posted on Facebook about her “incredible” annoyance at the fact that the ATL Law School Rankings do not count solos (and therefore her) as part of a school’s “employment score.”1
That’s unremarkable, of course. We don’t expect or intend that our approach will please everybody. Anyway, the resultant comment thread was, for the most part, a thoughtful discussion of the pros and cons of excluding solo practitioners in evaluating a particular law school school class’s employment outcomes. Again, all of this is unremarkable, and — especially considering the ATL rankings were published back in April — hardly worth noting now. But one particular commenter really, seriously disliked the ATL rankings methodology. Before you say “so what?” (or “me too”), consider the commenter is indisputably one of the most influential law school deans in the country. Not only that, this dean made a “suggestion” in the course of the discussion that, if it were adopted, would be a game changer for how law schools would share employment data….
1 It must be noted that the solo did not read or did not understand our methodology in the first place. Our employment scores measure the most recent class ten months after graduation. She only recently began her practice. Prior to that she worked for a couple years as a public defender, a job that would have been counted under our formula.
We know how much our readers love rankings, so this is probably a good time to let you know that the National Jurist has released its eighth annual list of the law schools thought to offer the “Best Value” to law students — usually a list dominated by public schools with a smattering of private schools. The magazine also released its second annual list of the “best value” private law schools at the same time.
The Best Value ranking system typically takes into account a law school’s tuition (weighted 25 percent), students’ cost of living expenses (10 percent), students’ average indebtedness upon graduation (15 percent), the percentage of graduates who got a job after graduation (35 percent), and bar passage rates (15 percent).
What’s so exciting about this year’s list? For starters, the list of the overall “Best Value” list includes the most private law schools to date, in part due to the fact that average indebtedness is down since law schools started tossing out scholarships like Mardi Gras beads just to convince students to enroll.
Let’s take a look at the 2014 “Best Value” rankings…
Please note the UPDATE on the second page of this post.
For those of you who covet the intellectual and professional opportunities that come with clerking for a judge, choosing a law school that will enhance your prospects is pretty important. Make no mistake, no school is going to guarantee a clerkship. Nor will attending a school with historically low representation in clerkships automatically nuke your chances. But, a school with a high placement rate reflects the school’s reputation with judges, the influence of its professors, and the strength of its clerkship process advisors.
Bob Morse of U.S. News has released a breakdown of the schools securing the most clerkships. And more importantly, he breaks out the best schools for federal clerkships and state and local clerkships.
So which law school is the best represented? OK, it’s Yale. But who else is at the top of the list?
A law school that perennially gets the bottom-tier/unranked tag from U.S. News and has never been ranked by the ATL Top 50 — indeed, a strong contender in this year’s Worst Law School bracket — is billing itself to prospective students as a bona fide peer of schools like Duke, Northwestern, and even Yale.
You know what it takes to sell underachieving law schools? It takes brass balls.
If you’re a frequent reader of this website, you know that we continuously talk about the effects of law school debt and the need for tuition decreases so young lawyers can go on to lead normal lives after graduation instead of wearing their debt around their necks like slowly tightening nooses.
As time goes by, more and more law schools are starting to listen and reform — though in some cases, we imagine it’s only because they’re now feeling the pain of a decrease in tuition dollars due to low enrollment and smaller classes.
Until all law schools get in gear with the way things work now, we’ve got a list of law schools where life could be good after graduation. At these law schools, the average graduate has a starting salary that outweighs his average debt load…
Professor Joel P. Trachtman (JD Harvard Law School) has developed a unique, practical guide to help lawyers analyze, argue, and write effectively.
The Tools of Argument: How the Best Lawyers Think, Argue, and Win is a highly readable 200-page book, available for about $10 in paperback or e-book. Chapters focus on foundational principles in legal argument: procedure, interpretation of contracts and statutes, use of evidence, and more. The material covered is taught only implicitly in law school. Yet, when up-and-coming attorneys master these straightforward tools, they will think and argue like the best lawyers.
For most attorneys, time spent managing the books is a necessary evil at best. Yet it is undeniably a crucial aspect of running a successful practice. With that in mind, we invite you to view or download a free webinar by Above the Law and our friends at Clio to learn how to better manage your finances.
Take this opportunity to learn what it takes to streamline your accounting and get the most out of your time. The webinar agenda:
● The basics of accounting for lawyers.
● How legal accounting differs from regular accounting.
● Report and reconciliation issues surrounding trust accounts.
● How to pick and integrate the best accounting tools for your practice.
● Steps to prepare your tax return for your firm’s income.
Do not miss this crucial chance to optimize your accounting practices. Save time and get back to billing!
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!