Lat week, Vault.com released its 15th annual Law 100: a ranking of the most prestigious law firms in the country in the eyes of the ultimate insiders—current law firm associates themselves. This year, almost 17,000 associates took Vault’s survey, and awarded Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz and Cravath, Swaine & Moore the number one and two spots, respectively, for the tenth year in a row.
The top ten law firms in the Vault Law 100 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
This year saw more movement within the top ten than in years past. Skadden slipped past Sullivan & Cromwell to take the number three spot; Weil and Simpson swapped places in the #6 and #7 positions; and Latham bumped its way back into the top ten, sending Covington & Burling to #11.
Latham was a top ten mainstay until 2010, when associates responded to the firm’s 2009 layoffs by sending it from #7 to #17. This year, however, the firm rejoined the top ten for the first time since the layoffs. Survey respondents proclaimed that Latham is “back as top dog,” citing its “great culture” and “laid-back” vibe. Given that firm culture has become the top factor cited by survey respondents as influencing their decision to join a firm, Latham’s reputation for having a friendly, collaborative culture may have helped to propel it back into the Top 10 so quickly.
Hogan Lovells also saw a notable jump, from #51 in 2012 to #41 this year. Before its merger with London-based Lovells, Hogan & Hartson was ranked #28. Given the failed firm mergers that have made headlines recently, associates may have been cynical about any newly combined firm’s outlook. But the firm seems to be doing well in the eyes of associates, given its ten-spot jump this year.
Baker Hostetler also ascended the ranks significantly, going from #77 to #68, thanks in no small part to its front-page role in the Madoff bankruptcy. Survey respondents noted the firm’s “awesome work” as counsel for the Madoff trustee, partner Irving Picard.
One firm that is missing from the rankings this year is, of course, Dewey & LeBoeuf. The firm, which recently filed for bankruptcy, debuted in the Vault Law 100 at #48 in 2009 and by last year had moved up to the #37 spot.
Three firms that were unranked last year joined the Vault Law 100—Fenwick & West at #94, Wiley Rein at #97 and Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman at #98. Falling out of the top 100 were Troutman Sanders (ranked #93 in 2012), Littler Mendelson (previously ranked #97), Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton (previously ranked #98), Kelley Drye (previously ranked #99) and Foley Hoag (previously ranked #100).
Vault will be releasing the rest of its 2013 Rankings—Best in Practice, Best in Region, Best to Work For and Diversity Rankings—over the coming weeks.© 2012 Vault.com Inc.