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by Matt Moody | June 27, 2017


2018 Vault's Best Law Firms to Work For

Vault’s 2018 Quality of Life rankings are here, and there’s a new Best Law Firm to Work For, as Paul Hastings reclaims the top spot it lost to O’Melveny & Myers last year.

Paul Hastings earned its top ranking in part by topping three Quality of Life categories—Satisfaction, Associate/Partner Relations, and Quality of Work— while coming in second in three more areas key to associate happiness—Hours, Transparency, and Informal Training. Paul Hastings associates report to Vault that “Paul Hastings is a fantastic place to practice law” where “the partners genuinely value the associates as individuals.” Paul Hastings was the top-rated firm in this ranking from 2014 to 2016, as well.

Last year’s champion O’Melveny still had a strong showing this year, taking the top spot in Firm Culture and Hours, and placing in the top three in all three “overall” categories—Best to Work For, Overall Diversity, and Best Summer Program.

“As law school enrollment has dropped over the last decade, law firms must compete even more fiercely for the top candidates, and this generation of law school graduates care about more than just prestige,” said Matt Moody, Law Editor at Vault. “The associates currently working at a law firm offer the best window into what life is really like at any particular firm, and Vault’s Quality of Life Rankings and firm profiles summarize this information so that law students and laterals can carefully weigh their options.”

The Law Firm Quality of Life Rankings are derived from Vault’s Law Firm Associate Survey, in which nearly 18,000 associates rated and commented on various aspects of their work life. This year’s Best 25 Law Firms to Work For rankings were calculated using a formula that weighs associate ratings in a dozen different areas: Overall Satisfaction (25%); Firm Culture (10%); Hours (10%); Quality of Work (10%); Compensation (10%); Business Outlook (5%); Career Outlook (5%); Associate/Partner Relations (5%); Leadership Transparency (5%); Informal and Formal Training (5%); Pro Bono (5%); and Overall Diversity (5%).

Vault’s 2018 Top 10 Best Law Firms to Work For are:

  1. Paul Hastings
  2. Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson
  3. O’Melveny & Myers
  4. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe
  5. Ropes & Gray
  6. Proskauer Rose
  7. Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner
  8. Thompson & Knight
  9. Foley Hoag
  10. Gibson Dunn & Crutcher

The No. 1 firms in Vault’s Quality of Life categories are:

Summer Superstars

There’s a new Best Overall Summer Associate Program this year, as Fried Frank leaps from number seven last year to take the crown. Fried Frank also has the Summer Associate Program that Best Prepares for Practice, while Schulte Roth & Zabel has been voted as having the Most Fun Summer Associate Program.

Vault asked first- through third-year associates who had worked as summer associates at their current firms to rate the program both in terms of how well it prepared them for full-time practice and how much fun they had; the average of these two scores determined which firms ranked on the Best Overall Summer Associate Programs list. Former Fried Frank summer associates noted that the “summer experience was fantastic,” and, while the “social events were frequent and always fun,” the firm also provided “lots of training and a great opportunity to do very substantive work.”

Best for Diversity

Ropes & Gray repeats as the Best Law Firm for Diversity this year, having overtaken Carlton Fields in last year’s ranking. Ropes & Gray takes the No. 1 spot in two sub-categories (Diversity for LGBT Individuals and for Individuals with Disabilities) while Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete takes the top spot in the other two diversity categories (Diversity for Minorities and for Women).

“BigLaw firms have improved their recruiting of diverse attorneys, but at the partner level attorneys are disproportionately white and male.” said Moody. “But law firms are implementing new initiatives to help retain and promote female and minority attorneys, like extended parental leave, agile working programs, and affinity groups to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce.”

The No. 1 firms in Vault’s Diversity categories are:

  • Diversity for Individuals with Disabilities: Ropes & Gray
  • Diversity for Minorities: Constangy
  • Diversity for Women: Constangy
  • LGBT Diversity: Ropes & Gray

To view the entire rankings for all the categories mentioned above, including Best to Work For, Best Summer Associate Programs, and Best Law Firms for Diversity, click here.