Vault rankings

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We’re entering on-campus interviewing season. If you’re a law student going through OCI, or if you’re a lawyer involved in your firm’s recruiting process, be sure to check out Above the Law’s new law student career center, a repository job search resources, and our law firm directory, where law firms get letter grades in different categories.

One area that interviewees are always interested in is diversity. Diverse attorneys — okay, that’s a bad way of putting it — minority attorneys want to know where they’ll feel welcome. Even lawyers who aren’t minorities want workplaces that are open and inclusive. And corporate clients are increasingly keen on sending their work to firms that show a commitment to diversity.

So which Biglaw firms are the biggest on diversity? Let’s check out the latest rankings….

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Which law firms are the best law firms to work for? The ones that pay salaries (ideally in excess of $10,000 a year). In a still-challenging job market, law students and young lawyers will generally work for whichever law firm will have them.

But some prospective employees of Biglaw have the luxury of choosing between multiple employers. And for these privileged and talented few, things like quality of life — to the extent that one can have a quality of life, or a life at all, while toiling away at a top firm — do matter.

Last month, our friends at Vault issued their closely watched Vault 100 rankings, ordering the nation’s major law firms by perceived prestige. Now they’ve followed them up with their annual “quality of life” rankings, expressed as a list of the best law firms to work for.

Which firms made the top ten?

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The new Vault Rankings are out. It’s a fun day for large law firms — a day when their prestige is matched against that of their peers.

The day is even more significant this year, since it appears that so-called “top” Biglaw firms are now paying bonuses largely in “prestige points.”

Vault ranks the prestige of firms based on nearly 17,000 surveys sent to law firm associates all across the country. Just by looking at the top ten firms, I think we can agree that associates who fill out these surveys have no memory and have really enjoyed this period of salary stagnation.

As I mentioned last week when talking about associate hours, it seems Biglaw partners really know what they’re doing. Whether we’re talking about prestige or associate hours, partners have figured out that associates will take less money and like it….

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Ebony and ivory, billing together in perfect harmony.

We’ve talked a lot in these pages about the value of diversity. It’s important to clients, it’s important to law firms, and it’s important to the legal profession as a whole.

Given the significance of diversity, it’s not surprising that several organizations and news outlets focus on it, especially with respect to large law firms. In the past few weeks, we’ve discussed diversity data from Building A Better Legal Profession and from the American Lawyer, for example.

Today brings news of more diversity rankings, this time from the ranking gurus over at Vault. They’ve compiled a list of 25 best law firms for diversity.

Which firms made the cut? Is your firm on the list?

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CHECK YOU SAMOSAS.

* Should innkeepers with religious beliefs be able to turn away same-sex couples seeking marriage reception venues? [Burlington Free Press]

* What are the best law firms in different cities and regions of the country? Check out the Vault regional rankings. [Vault's Law Blog]

* I bet she bites off the next thing he forces in her mouth. [Runnin' Scared / Village Voice and Gizmodo]

* The Tiger Mom should send the senators to bed without dinner until they vote on the stalled Seventh Circuit nomination of Professor Victoria Nourse. [National Law Journal]

* Was there a Brady violation at the Casey Anthony trial? The state says no, arguing that defense lawyer Jose Baez received the potentially exculpatory information. [Legal Ethics Forum]

* Where’s the beef in this lawsuit? Unfortunately, inside the supposedly vegetarian samosas. [Porzio Appellate Law Blog]

* What is the difference between marketing and sales, and why does it matter to law firms? [Ross's Law Marketing Blog]

The world of large law firms isn’t all about prestige and pay. Although the Vault 100 prestige rankings and the Am Law 100 profit-per-partner rankings are closely watched, there are other ranking schemes out there — and some of these frameworks adopt a kinder, gentler outlook on Biglaw.

For example, take the American Lawyer’s A-List. Although the A-List rankings take law firm financial performance into account, they also factor in diversity, pro bono work, and associate satisfaction.

Associate satisfaction: that’s the driving force behind another important set of rankings, Vault’s just-released “Best Law Firms to Work For” list. The notion of “quality of life” at a law firm might seem laughable to some — but let’s face it, some firms are generally better workplaces than others. (Of course, your mileage may vary: some lawyers have great experiences at firms known for being awful, and some lawyers have awful experiences at firms known for being great.)

Let’s check out the Vault top ten, shall we?

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On February 27, 2009, Latham & Watkins laid off 440 associates and staff. These official layoffs came after months of quietly and stealthily laying off employees.

That year, Latham fell from #7 to #17 on the Vault 100 list of the most prestigious law firms. It was one of the biggest single year drops ever on the Vault list. At the time, I asked: “Is this as far as [Latham] will fall?”

Two years removed from that question, I’m staring at the brand-new Vault 100 rankings. Latham & Watkins is ranked #11.

Memory, my friends, is not something they screen for on the LSAT…

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Is your law firm this transparent?

Greetings from lovely Palm Springs, California, home to the 2011 annual education conference of the Association for Legal Career Professionals (better known to many of you as NALP). The setting is beautiful, the weather is fabulous, and the conference panels have been stimulating thus far. Who needs SXSW?

Yesterday I attended a very interesting session, covering a topic near and dear to the hearts of many Above the Law readers. The apt title of the panel: “From Black Boxes to Glass Houses: Evolving Expectations of Law Firm Transparency.”

The lively discussion covered a wide range of topics — and also offered some advice for law firms for dealing with the increased transparency of the digital age….

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One of my favorite law firm names is FreshfieldsFreshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, to be precise, but I prefer Freshfields. It makes me think of rolling green hills, crisp laundered linens, or a dairy, producing the creamiest milk in all the land.

As it turns out, Freshfields is a law firm — a top international law firm, a member of the elite Magic Circle. And this Freshfields is rolling out the green, doling out crisp bills, and ladling out the cream — to its associates. As reported earlier today by Am Law Daily, yesterday Freshfields announced spring bonuses, on the top-of-the-market Cravath scale.

Freshfields isn’t alone. This afternoon, Cadwalader, which was publicly toying with the idea of spring bonuses, announced that it too would pay them, again on the Cravath scale.

These two moves are significant — far more significant than the earlier spring bonus announcements….

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Readers, we’ve reached the end of the road. After this post, we will have exhausted the Vault 100 law firms — the one hundred most prestigious large law firms in the country. We’ve been doing a series of open threads on these firms so that readers can discuss, in the comments, how these firms stack up against each other.

We were impressed by the quality, but not the quantity, of the comments on our last law firm open thread. Will the final 20 generate as much discussion? Here they are:

81. Arent Fox LLP
82. McGuireWoods LLP
83. Venable LLP
84. Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP
85. Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP
86. Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell LLP
87. Baker & Hostetler LLP
88. Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP
89. Seyfarth Shaw LLP
90. Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP
91. Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP
92. Blank Rome LLP
93. Bracewell & Giuliani LLP
94. Dorsey & Whitney LLP
95. Kilpatrick Stockton LLP
96. Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo P.C.
97. Dickstein Shapiro LLP
97. Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP
98. Squire, Sanders & Dempsey L.L.P.
99. Troutman Sanders LLP
100. Fenwick & West LLP

Let’s kickstart the conversation by pulling out some tasty tidbits from their Vault write-ups….

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