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…
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:
Yesterday 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.
The official Vault law firm rankings for 2010 are out today. This list will define law firm prestige for the year to come. Many law students, associates, and partners — especially partners involved in the recruiting process — care greatly about these influential rankings.
Here are the top five most prestigious law firms, according to Vault. This year’s top five is substantially similar to last year’s: Skadden has flipped-flopped with Sullivan & Cromwell. Otherwise the top five remain unchanged from last year.
After the jump, the rest of the brand new Vault top ten, and a note from Vault’s managing editor about what’s new in this year’s rankings.
The new Vault law firm rankings, for 2010, are set to be released later this week. But earlier today, readers sent us this link, which takes you to a page on the Vault website with incomplete prestige rankings for a little over 60 law firms.
We reached out to Brian Dalton, managing editor of Vault, who informed us that these rankings are NOT legit. From Dalton:
These are not the correct rankings. There was a technical glitch on our end and some incorrect rankings have appeared on the site. We will publish the new rankings soon.
And when they do, we’ll be sure to let you know.
Still, even if these rankings are wrong, it’s always fun to gawk. While we wait for the official list to be produced, here are the top five firms on the apocryphal list (note the absence of Cravath):
After the jump, more faux rankings.
The latest edition of the highly influential Vault law firm rankings will be coming out any day now. Participating firms have been notified in advance of how they fared this year — and some of them are already tooting their own horns.
For example, Ropes & Gray sent around an internal email touting its being named Vault’s #1 Best Firm to Work For. Congratulations, Ropes!
Congratulations are also in order for Bingham McCutchen. From the firm’s press release:
Bingham’s ranking jumped significantly in diversity and overall scores in the 2010 Vault ratings, the firm’s best year to date.
In the overall Best Firms to Work For category, Bingham broke into the Top 10 at No. 6 in the 2010 rankings…. In the 2010 Prestige category, which ranks firms based on the evaluations of associates from other law firms, Bingham rose seven slots to No. 56.
Bingham’s rank also rose in every category related to diversity in the 2010 Vault rankings. The firm placed in the Top 20 in the Diversity Women category at No. 15. It also rose from No. 16 to No. 11 in the Diversity Gay & Lesbian category, and climbed from No. 16 to No. 12 in the Overall Diversity category.
Do you know how your firm fared in the soon-to-be-released Vault rankings? Do you have an opinion on how it should have done?
Feel free to discuss, in the comments. Of course, when the new Vault rankings are officially released, we will bring you more coverage. Thanks.
We regularly receive tips about educational or charitable events that might interest our readers. Because we don’t have the ability to give shout-outs to all, and to ensure equal treatment, we direct everyone with events of a non-commercial nature to mention them in our Community section (which, by the way, is overflowing with openings for deferred associates right now).
(The Community section is for non-profit events or opportunities. If what you’re trying to promote is commercial in nature, please advertise. Commercial postings will be pulled from the Community.)
Our rule against event promotion admits of exceptions. We will mention events featuring significant participation by Above the Law editors — like this one, taking place this coming Tuesday, July 16:
Breaking Back into a Large Law Firm: How to Make Your Way Back into a Top Law Firm
Moderator: BRIAN DALTON, Managing Editor, Vault.com and Editor Vault Guide to the Top 100 Law Firms
Speakers: DAVID LAT, Founding Editor, AboveTheLaw.com; T.J. DUANE, Principal, Lateral Link; HELEN LONG, Director Legal Recruiting at Ropes & Gray LLP; JOHN J. CANNON III, Hiring Partner, Shearman & Sterling LLP.
The panel is part of an a day-long conference, co-sponsored by the New York City Bar and Vault, with the following mission:
Affected by the current financial crisis, many lawyers are finding themselves looking for employment. This program is designed to assist job-seeking attorneys in learning how best to market themselves whether they are looking to go to a firm, start their own practice or are considering an alternative legal career.
Wachtell may be the most prestigious firm out there (according to Vault), but it has the industry’s worst Web site, as rated by Jonathan Thrope of the American Lawyer. We’re not completely sure we trust his judgment though, since he was “sucked in” by Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice’s animated dog. We waited for it to do something cool, but it just stretched and yawned.
According to Thrope, law firms are getting more serious about online marketing and using Web sites to create a distinctive brand. In general, law firm sites strike us as fairly dry. And boring. There are a few exceptions, like the Van Winkle Law Firm’s split personality bio page. North Carolina-based Van Winkle adds a personal touch to its site with dual bios (and photos) for many of its attorneys: one with professional highlights, and another focused on hobbies and life outside of work.
Other firms experiment with offbeat advertising, but seem to be using it to recruit attorneys, not clients. Like Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle’s creation of a Facebook page, and Stoel Rives’ free-style running promo on YouTube.
Of the assortment of staid sites in the AmLaw 100, five made Thrope’s cut for the worst. Check them out after the jump.
We’re entering the second half of the Vault 100. This is part of a series of open threads to discuss the firms considered to be the profession’s most prestigious. Because we know you love prestige. And the opportunity for “TTT” accusations. [FN1]
Here’s the next bunch of firms, with prestige scores in parentheses:
Vault notes that attorneys at Pillsbury are treated to “freshly baked cookies.” But they also have to put up with being referred to as “Pillsburians” by Vault.
Compare, contrast, discuss… and if you’re at Pillsbury, have a chocolate chip cookie for us. Earlier:Vault 100 Open Threads – 2009
[FN1] We periodically get e-mails asking for the definition of “TTT,” which appears so often in comment threads. As the uninitiated have surely gathered, it’s a derogatory term. Likely originating on AutoAdmit, it stands for “third tier toilet.” For more, see Urban Dictionary.
In honor of the new Vault rankings, we’re doing a series of open threads on the 100 most prominent law firms. We invite you to compare and contrast the firms in the comments. In the last open thread on Vault firms 6-10, there was an animated discussion about litigation at Cleary and which Kirkland office is best to work for.
Moving on down the Vault 100 list, here’s the next bunch up for discussion, with prestige scores in parentheses:
The oddest language in the “notable perks” in this bunch is at Williams & Connolly: “Fancy bunch of smarties.” Well-dressed intelligent lawyers, or a big basket of the tart candy?
Please discuss the work, perks, and lifestyle at these firms in the comments. More threads to come. Earlier:Vault 100 Open Threads- 2009
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
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