Vault rankings

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?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Best Firms To Work For, When It Comes To ‘Quality of Life’”

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?

We’ve gotten away from plowing through the latest Vault Rankings, but fear not. Your firm is coming up soon.

We’ve been through the top 30 firms. But now we’re getting into a group of firms that really utilized the cost-cutting measures of salary cuts and layoffs to weather the recession of 2009. Did these guys take a big prestige hit? Not really. Here’s the next batch of firms:

31. Mayer Brown
32. Milbank
33. Paul Hastings
34. Akin Gump
35. Allen & Overy
36. Fried Frank
37. Irell & Manella
38. Freshfields
39. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe
40. Willkie Farr & Gallagher

Just off the top of my head, does anybody else think that Irell is coming in a little low?

Anyway, let’s get into these firms…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fall Recruiting Open Threads: Vault 31 – 40 (2011)”

We’re rolling through the Vault 2011 list of the “prestigiest” firms in the land, so that you can comment on what it’s like to actually live, work, and breathe those firms (when you’re not choking on all the prestige in the air).

We’ve covered #1-10 and #11-20. Here’s the next round-up. Now it’s time for the London-based Magic Circle firms to join in the elite fun:

21. Arnold & Porter
22. Shearman & Sterling
23. Boies, Schiller & Flexner
24. O’Melveny & Myers
25. Ropes & Gray
26. Morrison & Foerster
27. Munger, Tolles & Olson
28. Hogan Lovells
29. Clifford Chance
30. Linklaters

What do associates have to say about the ups and downs of life at these firms? Here are some excerpts from their Vault listings…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fall Recruiting Open Threads: Vault 21 – 30 (2011)”

The 2011 Vault prestige rankings are out, giving meaning and purpose to those whose firms ranked in the top 20, and giving those further down the list inferiority complexes. (We’re talking to you, #21-formerly-#18.)

This thread covers the firms ranked #11 through #20. This is your chance to discuss these firms — their upsides and downsides and whether Vault got their rankings right. The Vault site has entries for each firm, similar to the Firm Snapshots in our own Career Center.

The “downers” category for most firms tends to be rather general: they treat me like a number, “long hours,” “unfun,” etc. But someone at #20-ranked White & Case had a very specific complaint about the firm’s lack of tech savvy: “The technology is very outdated. We still run Outlook 2003 and are not allowed to use iPhones. The blackberries we are given are over 2 years old and do not work well at times. The firm is not receptive to these issues.”

Little known White & Case perk: every new associate gets their own Commodore 64 for home use.

What are the reviews for the other firms in this bracket?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fall Recruiting Open Threads: Vault 11 – 20 (2011)”

We’re taking a break from our march through the Vault prestige rankings to look at another way of pitting law firms against each other: practice group strength.

It’s an approach that’s favored by groups such as Chambers and Partners. Instead of focusing on overall firm prestige, these rankings focus on which firms are great at their chosen specialties.

Of course, there’s a limitation to ranking firms this way. It’s more helpful for lateral hires and clients than to law students or young lawyers choosing between firms (who are often the consumers of Vault guides). Sure, young 2L, you might want to go to the top capital markets law firm in all the land — if you knew what capital markets practice entailed. Which you don’t. Specialization usually comes after you’ve been working for a couple of years, not before you even graduate from law school.

With that disclaimer, it’s still pretty interesting to see which well-known firms rose to the top in some interesting practice groups…

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The real utility of the Vault law firm rankings isn’t the opportunity they give to prestige whores who want to lord their status over others. The rankings — conveniently released just before the start of on-campus recruiting — allow law students to get an inside peek at the firms that will soon be coming to campus to vie for their attentions. The firms know a lot about you, but what do you really know about the firms? The Vault rankings are an opportunity to close the informational gap.

Okay, sure, I ripped that opening from something somebody probably wrote in 2005. In a recession economy, law students are probably more concerned with which firms won’t abort their legal careers, instead of which firms have the best cookies.

But still, the rankings give us an opportunity to discuss each firm. And readers of Above the Law are always full of opinions when it comes to the best Biglaw firms.

So sit back, register your Disqus account, and join us as we romp through the Vault 100. We’ll start at the very top — because prestige whoring doesn’t have to be useful in order to be fun…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fall Recruiting Open Threads: Vault 1 – 10 (2011)”

Oh yeah, it’s time to get your prestige on.

The 2011 Vault prestige rankings went live this morning. It’s the time of the year when associates get to make fun of their friends, and partners get to brag to their peers. Law is a prestige-conscious field, and the Vault rankings will set the tone for prestige battles over the next year.

The top five remain the same, but the order has changed:

1. Wachtell
2. Cravath
3. Sullivan & Cromwell
4. Skadden
5. Davis Polk & Wardwell

Sullivan & Cromwell hops back over Skadden this year. I guess Skadden’s Sidebar Plus didn’t have quite enough prestige points.

Moving on, there is one firm that dropped out of the Vault top ten…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The 2011 Vault Rankings Are Out!”

Vault Diveristy logo.JPGYesterday we wrote about NALP’s decision to allow firms to blur the equity / non-equity partner distinction. Today, the WSJ Law Blog, the ABA Journal, and Business Insider have coverage of the issue.
But NALP isn’t the only organization attempting to gather information on law firm partnerships. Vault is also in that game, and according to a senior law editor Vera Djordjevich, they have no problem getting the very equity versus non-equity partnership information NALP ignores:

[O]ur diversity survey requests — and most law firms provide — separate numbers for equity partners and non-equity partners. …
The database includes statistics for equity vs non-equity partners for each of the demographic groups the survey addresses (gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability). Of the firms that participate in the survey, a small percentage refuse to distinguish between partnership tiers in their reporting, but that fact is generally disclosed in a footnote. For example, Kirkland & Ellis reports that it has more than one partnership tier but includes all data in the equity partner category, explaining that the firm “does not distinguish between equity and non-equity partners for the purpose of external surveys.”

So Vault is at least asking the questions — but are they getting answers? Details after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Vault Explains Why It’s Better Than NALP”

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