Vault rankings

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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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…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The 2012 Vault Rankings: Proof Of Short Memories”


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….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Spring Bonus Mania: Freshfields, Cadwalader…. Where Will It End? Could Your Firm Be Next?”

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….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fall Recruiting Open Threads: Vault 81 – 100 (2011)”

With fall recruiting gearing up, and the lateral market warming up, we continue our annual series of open threads about the law firms featured in the Vault prestige rankings. These threads provide ATL readers with a forum to discuss the different firms and their various strengths and weaknesses.

The end of the Vault 100 is in sight. We’re covering the firms in batches of 20 now. Here are the firms ranked #61 to #80, which will provide today’s discussion fodder:

61. Greenberg Traurig, LLP
62. Holland & Knight LLP
63. Fish & Richardson P.C.
64. Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP
65. Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP
66. Foley & Lardner LLP
67. Perkins Coie LLP
68. Nixon Peabody LLP
69. Patton Boggs LLP
70. Kaye Scholer LLP
71. Hunton & Williams LLP
72. Reed Smith LLP
73. Steptoe & Johnson LLP
74. Chadbourne & Parke LLP
75. Howrey LLP
76. Bryan Cave LLP
77. Lovells (US) [now part of Hogan Lovells]
78. Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP
79. Crowell & Moring LLP
80. Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP

This is a very eclectic group, including a few New York-centric firms, some D.C.-dominated places, and a bunch of national and even international giants.

Let’s take a closer look at some of these shops….

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We’re doing our annual march through the Vault prestige rankings, to give ATL readers the opportunity to have their say about perks and pitfalls at these firms. If your firm actually let you swap your Blackberry for your iPhone, brag here. Or if your firm has such a strong stench that it makes you nauseous, vent here.

We’ve been doing open threads in batches of ten, but now we’re going to pick up the pace. Here are the Vault #41 – 60. This is when the prestige list gets a little more geographically diverse, with firms based in Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Palo Alto and even Pittsburgh:

41. Winston & Strawn
42. Baker Botts
43. Jenner & Block
44. Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft
45. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
46. Proskauer Rose
47 (tie). Dewey & LeBoeuf
47 (tie). King & Spalding
48. Goodwin Procter
49. Baker & McKenzie
50. Fulbright & Jaworski
51. Vinson & Elkins
52. McDermott Will & Emery
53. DLA Piper
54. Morgan Lewis & Bockius
55. Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman
56. Bingham McCutchen LLP
57. Dechert LLP
58. Cooley LLP
59. K&L Gates LLP
60. Alston & Bird LLP

We took a spin through their Vault rankings and awarded superlatives, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fall Recruiting Open Threads: Vault 41 – 60 (2011)”

Forget about prestige (momentarily). Which firms have the best quality of life?

Vault has compiled its annual Law Firm Quality of Life Rankings, based on associate surveys. Associates were asked to rate their firms on “overall satisfaction, associate/partner relations, firm culture, hours, compensation, office space, training, and pro bono and green initiatives.”

Williams & Connolly managed to get into the top ten on both the quality of life (#2) and prestige (#8) lists. (UPDATE: Vault sent along a new list without ties.) Here are the top five on the “Quality of Life” list:

1. Ropes & Gray
2. Williams & Connolly
3. Morrison & Foerster
4. Fitzpatrick, Cella, Harper & Scinto
5. Shook, Hardy & Bacon

At which two other firms can you let your hair down, but keep your nose in the air?

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As we mentioned on Friday, in discussing a retired partner’s messy divorce from a European beauty, Wachtell Lipton is one of the country’s most prestigious and most profitable law firms. Its partners make millions — even years after they have left the firm.

In the new Vault practice group rankings, the M&A powerhouse came out on top in the area of general corporate practice. Was Wachtell’s #1 ranking justified?

The folks over at Law Shucks don’t think so — and, despite my loyalty to my former firm, I see their point. Wachtell is a great firm, but its small size precludes it from being all things to all people. It’s a high-end boutique, not a superstore.

Check out the complete “Wachtell is overrated” argument over at Law Shucks.

General Corporate – Wachtell is Overrated [Law Shucks]

Earlier: How Much Do Retired Wachtell Partners Make?

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