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Vault's Top 25 Firms for Associates

Vivia Chen

July 16, 2013

Thumbs Up © bevangoldswain - Fotolia.comFreshly released—and just in time for early interview week!—Vault.com's rankings of the top 25 law firms for "quality of life." This year, nearly 17,000 associates participated in Vault's survey, which asked respondents to rate their firms for work experience, training, compensation, business outlook, culture, hours, and satisfaction, among other issues.

Without further ado, here are the top 10 firms in the Vault survey:

1.     Paul Hastings

2.     Ropes & Gray

3.     Williams & Connolly

4.     Irell & Manella

5.     Gibson Dunn  

6.     Foley Hoag

7.     Patton Boggs

8.     Patterson Belknap

9.     Fish & Richardson

10.     Baker Donelson

I don't know if Paul Hastings is bribing, threatening, or brainwashing its associates, but it must be doing something awesome to get the top spot (click here for an interview with Paul Hastings's hiring partner). Besides winning the overall top score, Paul Hastings also got first-place honors for hours. Vera Djordjevich, Vault's research director, says that the firm is hardworking "but not a sweatshop." She also notes that associates laud the fact that face time is not required, "which is something that can color an associate's satisfaction with her schedule regardless of the actual number of hours billed."

Though Paul Hastings jumped eight spots from last year and knocked out Williams & Connolly for the number-one title, the Washington, D.C., firm is hardly a slouch. Vault notes that Williams & Connolly got the top marks in seven categories (see the list below).

"I think there can be a perception that the firms that have the biggest and best-known names are great for an attorney’s resume but not the most pleasant workplaces, and our quality of life rankings demonstrate that isn’t necessarily the case," says Djordjevich. "A lot of firms have it all—great reputation, quality work, congenial atmosphere, and partners who take associate development seriously."

Here are some of the other winners in the Vault survey:

Compensation: Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, followed by Boies Schiller. No surprises there, but where's Quinn Emanuel (which didn't even show up on the top 25 list for compensation, though Morgan Lewis did)?

Satisfaction, culture, work, career outlook, business outlook, associate/partner relations, and selectivity in hiring: Williams & Connolly won in all seven categories. (I don't get why "selectivity in hiring" should matter, but I guess it's good for lawyers' egos).

Informal training, mentoring, and sponsorship: Quarles & Brady.

Transparency: Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz.

Pro bono: Patton Boggs.

Though Vault didn't highlight it, I think we should give Patterson Belknap a special shout-out for being the only New York–based firm to make it to the top 10 overall "best to work for" list. Hey, New York is a tough town—so who expects it to get high scores from associates anyway?


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How did Vault rank firm's on women's diversity issues?

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About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: [email protected]

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