Skip to Main Content
by Vault Law Editors | July 27, 2011


Deciding to become a lawyer is just one step in the process, but the legal profession is not a one-size-fits-all career. Many attorneys develop practice specialties, and many law students want to focus on specific areas. For law students and laterals looking for the best match, Vault’s practice area rankings provide a valuable way to assess potential employers by understanding which law firms excel in specific practice areas based on the perspectives of associates at peer firms.

Vault Law 100 SealThe 2012 Vault Law Rankings are based on the results of the annual Vault Law Firm Associate Survey, in which 16,000 associates participated this year. In order to determine the Vault Practice Area Rankings, associates were able to vote for up to three firms they consider strongest in their own practice area, but were not permitted to vote for their own firm.  A total of 25 practice areas ranging from Antitrust to Tax were ranked, indicating the top firms in each area, as well the total percentage of votes, offering associates a tool to aid in their career search. 

Below is a list of the firms that ranked No. 1 in their respective practice areas along with a glimpse at outsiders’ opinions on these firms.

Antitrust (Tie): Arnold & Porter  

• “Outstanding, top-notch firm”

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton

• “Brilliant Associates”

Antitrust Litigation: Skadden 

• “The leader in all things”

Appellate Litigation: Gibson Dunn

• “Top litigators”

Bankruptcy: Weil Gotshal  

• “Unmatched bankruptcy expertise”

Class Actions: Skadden 

• “Powerhouse”

Clean Tech: Baker Botts

• “Smart attorneys”

Energy, Oil & Gas: Baker Botts

• “Extremely strong energy practice”

General Commercial Litigation: Kirkland & Ellis

• “Quietly great”

General Corporate Practice: Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz

• “Brilliant; hard-working; would hire them if I ran a company”

Intellectual Property: Fish & Richardson  

• “Top-notch IP”

Intellectual Property Litigation: Fish & Richardson  

• “IP warriors”

International: Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer  

• “The cream of the ‘Magic Circle’ firms that operate in the US”

Labor & Employment: Morgan Lewis

• “Top Mid-Atlantic firm”

Labor & Employment Disputes: Morgan Lewis

• “Strong labor & employment practice”

M&A: Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz

• “Still the king of M&A”

Private Equity: Simpson Thacher

• “PE powerhouse”

Products Liability: Skadden 

• “Most impressed I have been with any firm”

Real Estate: Fried Frank  

• “Great real estate”

Securities: Sullivan & Cromwell

• “Hire very smart people”

Securities Litigation: Skadden 

• “They were smart and professional at all times”

Tax: Skadden 

• “Very prestigious”

Technology: Wilson Sonsini 

• “Still the king”

White Collar Defense/Internal Investigations: Williams & Connolly

• “The best litigators in the country”

View the Complete Practice Area Rankings.

Read More:
Unveiling the 2012 Vault Law 100!
Announcing Vault's 2012 Quality of Life Rankings

Announcing Vault's 2012 Regional Law Firm Rankings

-- Jon Minners,


Filed Under: Law

Want to be found by top employers? Upload Your Resume

Join Gold to Unlock Company Reviews