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by Vault Law Editors | June 27, 2018


2018 Vault's Best Law Firms to Work For

Vault has released its 2019 Quality of Life rankings, and O’Melveny & Myers is rated the Best Law Firm to Work For. After dropping from No. 1 in 2017 to No. 3 in 2018, O’Melveny came back strong this year to reclaim the top spot, scoring .373 points ahead of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobsen, which maintains its No. 2 ranking. O’Melveny took the 2019 rankings by storm, earning a top 10 spot in all but one Quality of Life category and ranking No. 1 in half of the categories. Clifford Chance (No. 3), White & Case (No. 5), and Crowell & Moring (No. 9) all make their first appearances in the Top 10, and in the Best to Work For Ranking all together.

Vault’s 2019 Top 10 Best Law Firms to Work For are:

  1. O’Melveny & Myers
  2. Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson
  3. Clifford Chance
  4. Paul Hastings
  5. White & Case
  6. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe
  7. Thompson & Knight
  8. Ropes & Gray
  9. Crowell & Moring
  10. Latham & Watkins

Associates at O’Melveny offered a glimpse into what sets the firm apart, praising the firm’s “laid back culture” and “super interesting work.” One associate summed up the associate experience saying, “O’Melveny is a great place to work, the attorneys are super smart, the work is interesting and the people are very nice. If you want a firm where you get staffed on high profile cases with people who you genuinely enjoy working with, this is the place for you.”

“The modern workforce is much more focused on work/life balance, transparent communication, and inclusive cultures, and the legal industry is not immune from this trend,” said Matt Moody, Vault’s Senior Law Editor. “O’Melveny has clearly taken these demands seriously, and its efforts have paid off. Prestige and compensation will always be important for law firms, but a stellar work environment is becoming non-negotiable for many attorneys.”

Vault’s Quality of Life Survey

The Law Firm Quality of Life Rankings are derived from Vault’s Law Firm Associate Survey, in which nearly 20,000 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%).

Shake Ups Abound in Quality of Life Rankings

This year saw tremendous shifts in the Quality of Life rankings, with nine of the fourteen categories welcoming new leaders. O’Melveny was king, maintaining its No. 1 spot in Firm Culture and Hours, and clinching the top ranking in Satisfaction, Associate/Partner Relations, Quality of Work, Transparency, and Informal Training. Other new leaders include Kirkland & Ellis for Business Outlook; Thompson & Knight for Career Outlook; Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler for Integration of Laterals and Clerks; and Jenner & Block for Pro Bono.

Wachtell Lipton maintained its vice grip as the No. 1 firm for Compensation—a spot it has held since the 2014 ranking. And Williams & Connolly earned the top ranking in Selectivity for the second year in a row.

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

While O’Melveny’s run is hard to top, several firms had notable success in the Quality of Life rankings this year. Thompson & Knight ranked among the top three law firms in five separate Quality of Life categories (Satisfaction, Associate/Partner Relations, Quality of Work, Career Outlook, Lateral/Clerk Integration) and moved up from No. 8 to No. 7 in the overall Best to Work For ranking.

Fried Frank maintained its No. 2 spot in the overall Best Law Firms to Work For category, and ranks in the Top 10 in eleven quality of life categories. Associates at Fried Frank appreciate the firm’s “top-notch training” and partners that “are approachable and care about the associates’ development.” One associate said Fried Frank has a “firm culture that encourages hard work with human consideration.”

Constangy is the Best Law Firm for Diversity

There’s a new Diversity leader in town, employment law firm Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete. After bursting into the rankings last year as the No. 4 Best Law Firm for Diversity, the firm leaped to the No. 1 spot this year. The firm also claimed the top spot in Diversity for Minorities and Diversity for Women, as well as the No. 2 spot in both LGBT Diversity and Diversity for Individuals with Disabilities. Constangy took the top spot for Overall Diversity by earning the highest average score in those four areas.

Associates at Constangy say that “diverse hiring, retention, and promotion are all visibly prioritized here” and that “women, minorities, and LGBT individuals are highly represented at all levels.”

“Constangy has made a concerted effort to weave diversity into its culture and has adopted a top-down strategy,” said Moody. “More than 40 percent of its partners are women and minority attorneys and name partner Don Prophete is the only African American on the masthead of a large law firm.”

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

O’Melveny Leads Summer Associate Rankings

In case there was any doubt that 2019 is the year of O’Melveny, the Summer Associate rankings further cemented the firm’s dominance. O’Melveny clinched the No. 1 spot as the Overall Best Summer Program with a lead of .086 points over No. 2 firm Eversheds Sutherland.

O’Melveny associates raved about the summer program, describing it as “unparalleled,” with one associate noting “attorneys at all levels could not have been more generous with their time or been more genuinely interested in getting to know us and in welcoming us into the community.”

“It’s no surprise that O’Melveny’s summer associates are pleased,” said Moody. “Its associates are overwhelmingly satisfied across the board, and it makes sense that the summer class would experience the same.”

Vault asked junior associates (first-years through third-years) who participated in their current firm’s summer associate program to rate their experience on a scale of 1-to-10 in six different areas. From those ratings, we ranked the best summer associate programs in three categories: Attorney Interactions (based on associates’ scores for meaningful interactions with firm attorneys); Career Development (giving equal weight to associates’ scores for substantive assignments, training and mentoring, and effective preparation for life as an associate); and Fun and Events (giving equal weight to associates’ scores for the quality of events and how fun the program was). The Overall Best Summer Associate Programranking reflects the average of all six individual ratings (attorney interactions, substantive assignments, training & mentoring, preparation for associate life, events, and fun).

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

View the entire rankings for the Best Law Firms to Work ForBest Law Firms for Diversity, and Best Summer Associate Programs.


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