Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Vault's list of best "lifestyle" law firms according to associates

These days, you could say that any firm hiring is a good one to work for. But if you're fortunate enough to have multiple offers, you may want to check out the 2012 Vault ranking of law firms based on quality of life criteria. Here's the press release:

Transparency Takes Center Stage As Vault Ranks 13 Quality of Life Categories

New York, NY, (July 11, 2012) For the second straight year, Williams & Connolly has been named the Best Law Firm to Work For by associates who applauded the firm’s commitment to employee satisfaction in Vault’s annual Quality of Life Rankings for 2013.

Williams & Connolly beat former two-time winner, Ropes & Gray, to claim the title, but job seekers were the real winners. Together, the firms earned the highest scores in a combined seven quality of life categories, making them choice firms for those who place such categories at the top of their job search criteria. 

“For many law students and potential lateral candidates, quality of life issues are just as important as other factors, such as a firm’s prestige,” said Rachel Marx, law editor at “The firms highlighted in this year’s Quality of Life rankings have outstanding legal practices but also excel in less quantifiable areas such as associate/partner relations, mentoring initiatives and transparency of management.”’s influential rankings are considered the “bible” for law students, associates, partners and law firm recruiters, providing a detailed perspective on the criteria considered by candidates when evaluating law firms.  The Law Firm Quality of Life Rankings provide a unique insider’s perspective: nearly 17,000 associates ranked their own firms based on such areas as overall satisfaction, associate/partner relations, firm culture, hours, compensation, office space, training, pro bono work, business outlook and green initiatives. From those rankings, a weighted formula determined the Best Law Firms to Work For

The Top 10 Best Law Firms to Work For Are:

1.    Williams & Connolly

2.    Ropes & Gray

3.    Patton Boggs        

4.    Baker Donelson

5.    Sutherland Asbill & Brennan

6.    Foley Hoag

7.    Munger, Tolles & Olson

8.    Fish & Richardson

9.    Paul Hastings

10.  Gibson Dunn & Crutcher

“Williams & Connolly associates love the practice of law and are thrilled with the opportunities they are given to do meaningful work on the most interesting cases and deals,” Marx continued. “This year, associates from the firm said their work was ‘endlessly interesting,’ and more than one associate said they ‘could not imagine being more satisfied’ at any other firm.”

In addition to being named Best Law Firm to Work For, Williams & Connolly also ranked No. 1 in Satisfaction, Firm Culture, Selectivity and Business Outlook. Looking ahead, one associate noted that Williams & Connolly’s “fantastic client base” would ensure that the firm had more than enough work for years to come.

Ropes & Gray also performed strongly, ranking No. 1 in Hours, with associates praising their firm for its reasonable hours requirement and flexibility in allowing attorneys to work from home in the evenings. The firm’s associates also appreciate that 100% of their pro bono work counts toward their annual billable hours requirement. The firm also ranked No. 1 in both Formal Training and Informal Training and Mentoring, with survey respondents noting that incoming associates receive practice area-specific training and are assigned associate development partners who give feedback throughout the year.

“Both formal and informal training are essential to a young associate’s success, and Ropes & Gray excels in both areas,” Marx said. According to one Ropes & Gray associate, “The informal training and mentorship has been a key component of my growth as a lawyer.”

Transparency Takes Center Stage

“Law firm transparency is a hot-button issue these days – one that comes up again and again in Vault’s annual associate survey,” Marx noted. “Increasingly, associates want more information about how their firm is run, how well the firm is doing financially and how partnership decisions are made.”

Munger Tolles, which also jumped five spots to No. 1 for Associate/Partner Relations, proved to be the most transparent (it was No. 2 in Leadership Transparency last year), with associates at the firm stating that they “get a vote in most firm decisions, including hiring new associates,” and that “the firm’s finances are completely transparent.”

According to Marx, associates’ appreciation for the firm’s openness made a big impact on the overall Quality of Life rankings this year. “It is telling that Munger Tolles debuted on both the Best to Work For List at No. 7 and the Satisfaction rankings at No. 6 in the same year that its Transparency and Associate/Partner Relations scores skyrocketed.”

Patton Boggs Makes Its Mark

Vault’s latest rankings were highlighted by a strong showing from Patton Boggs, which debuted in the Top 10 Best Law Firms to Work For ranking at an astounding No. 3 spot. The Washington, D.C.-based firm’s excellent ranking is backed by its top-notch pro bono efforts. Patton Boggs, which requires all of its associates to perform a minimum of 100 pro bono hours each year, jumped from No. 5 to No. 1 in this year’s Pro Bono ranking. Associates said they loved the “fascinating” pro bono cases the firm offers; one associate noted that “Patton Boggs has the best pro bono program I have ever seen.” And it’s not just a stellar pro bono program that Patton Boggs associates are giddy over—the firm ranked within the Top 10 in ten different quality of life categories.

Other Top-Ranked Firms in Vault’s Annual Quality of Life Rankings Are:

Compensation: Boies Schiller (According to associates, the firm is “not a market leader – a market buster”)

Green Initiatives: Fenwick & West (Insiders boasted that their firm is “continually recognized as a leader with respect to environmentally friendly practices”)

Office Space: Thompson & Knight (Associates cited the “artistic” and “modern” style as one of their “favorite things about coming to work.”)

View the entire 2013 Vault Law Firm Quality of Life Rankings


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