LATHAM & WATKINS CONTINUES DRAMATIC RETURN - HIGHLIGHTS BIG CHANGES IN ONCE STATIC TOP 10
Hogan Lovells Silences Critics; Dewey & LeBoeuf's Exit Creates Opening in Latest Vault.com Offering
New York, NY, (June 19, 2012) Vault.com has released its latest edition of the Vault Law 100 Rankings for 2013, highlighted by some of the biggest movement within the Top 10 in recent years. But one thing that did not change, and hasn't changed since 2004, is Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz's vice-like grip on the No. 1 spot. The New York City-based firm marked its tenth year anniversary as the most prestigious law firm in the nation, followed closely behind by Cravath, Swaine & Moore.
The Vault Law 100 is considered the "bible" for law students, associates, partners and law firm recruiters, providing a detailed perspective on the associate experience at the nation's top firms. Survey respondents have consistently ranked Wachtell and Cravath No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, and this year called Wachtell "#1 forever," and "best of the best of the best," while referring to Cravath as the "gold standard for big firms" that continuously "sets the bar."
In total, nearly 17,000 law associates shared their viewpoints and rated law firms on a scale of 1 to 10 based on prestige (associates were not allowed to rate their own firms and were asked to only rate firms with which they were familiar). The Top 10 firms based on Vault's Annual Law Firm Associate Survey are:
1. Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz
2. Cravath, Swaine & Moore
3. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
4. Sullivan & Cromwell
5. Davis Polk & Wardwell
6. Weil, Gotshal & Manges
7. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett
8. Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton
9. Kirkland & Ellis
10. Latham & Watkins
"Wachtell and Cravath are and continue to be the ones to beat in the Vault Law 100," said Rachel Marx, law editor for Vault.com. "But other firms are stepping up their efforts to move into those top spots, and we've seen the results of those efforts in this year's changes to the Top 10."
The Return of Latham & Watkins...Part 2
Last year, the big story that came out of the Vault Law 100 was the reemergence of Latham & Watkins. Latham & Watkins was always a mainstay in Vault Law's Top 10, but survey respondents lost faith when the firm laid off 440 attorneys in 2009, sending it hurtling down 10 spots to No. 17 in the 2010 rankings. But Latham weathered the storm and respondents took notice, propelling the firm to a No. 11 spot last year before putting it back in the Top 10 today. Associates proclaimed that Latham is "back as a top dog," citing its "great culture" and "laid-back" vibe.
"Firm culture has become the No. 1 factor cited by our respondents as influencing their decision to join a firm," Marx said. "Latham's reputation for having a friendly, collaborative culture may have helped to propel it back into the Top 10 so quickly."
More Changes in the Top 10
Latham jumped over Covington & Burling to take the No. 10 spot, knocking the latter to No. 11. The Top 10 saw significantly more movement than in recent years, including Skadden's jump up one spot to No. 3 and Sullivan & Cromwell's drop to the No. 4 position. In addition, Weil, Gotshal & Manges moved up one spot to No. 6, dropping Simpson Thacher & Barlett one spot to No. 7.
"This year's rankings are certainly in contrast with previous years' rankings; last year there was little to no movement at all in the Top 10," noted Marx. "When you have such strong firms with top practice areas across the board, any movement, even the smallest amount, can be significant."
Hogan Lovells Silences Its Critics
When D.C.-based Hogan & Hartson merged with London-based Lovells to form Hogan Lovells in 2010, the newly minted firm dropped 23 spots to No. 51. But this year, the firm jumped to No. 41, making significant progress toward reclaiming a top spot. Many survey respondents were impressed with the firm's post-merger status, commenting that it has a "strong international presence," is the "best [for] regulatory," and even that the "merger elevated their status."
"The past few years have seen several failed firm mergers, and associates may be cynical about a newly combined firm's outlook. But Hogan Lovells seems to be an example of a merger gone right," said Marx. "The firm may have taken a hit in our rankings after the merger, but this year's jump shows that they are certainly on the upswing and receiving positive feedback from our respondents."
Dewey & LeBoeuf Void Leaves Opening for New Firms
Not all mergers have a happy ending. One notable absence from the Vault Law 100 is Dewey & LeBoeuf. The firm, which was the product of a 2007 merger of Dewey Ballantine and LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae, debuted in the Vault Law 100 at #48 in 2009, and by last year had moved up to the #37 spot. However, amid intense press coverage, Dewey collapsed this year and recently filed for bankruptcy.
Three firms that were unranked last year joined the Vault Law 100 - Fenwick & West at No. 94; Wiley Rein at No. 97; and Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman at No. 98.
View the entire Top 100 Law Firm Rankings.
Vault.com is the source of employer and education ratings, rankings and insight for highly credentialed, in-demand candidates. Vault's editorial mission is to empower candidates with unbiased research needed to evaluate the professions, industries and companies they aspire to join.
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