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by Vault Law Editors | September 13, 2010


BigLaw litigation associates and corporate general counsel (mostly) agree on which firms have the alpha dog litigators.

Recently, the BTI Consulting Group released its 2011 Litigation Outlook report. The report, based on a survey of in-house counsel, charts trends in law firm spending, management and hiring criteria.  Counsel were also surveyed about which firms they feel are the most formidable litigation opponents. Kirkland & Ellis, Quinn Emanuel, Latham & Watkins, and Skadden were cited most often by survey respondents, leading BTI to dub them the “Fearsome Foursome.”

These findings reinforce the Vault Law Practice Area Ranking—and are a testament to the astute judgment of BigLaw associates. Litigation associates ranked Kirkland, Skadden, and Quinn as the top 3 in the “General Commercial Litigation” category (Latham—despite, or because of, the firm’s transmogrification into a verb—came in at #9).

Here’s sample of how the Foursome were characterized by their peers in the 2010 Vault Associate Survey (i.e., the BUZZ):

Kirkland & Ellis

“Shark tank, opaque management, great partners”

“Collegial and very skilled litigators”


Quinn Emanuel

“Will be the template from which future litigation firms are hewed.”

“Good lawyers, but need to get off the whole ‘we're the cool lawyers!’ thing. They're associates seem to drink the kool aid, though.”


Latham & Watkins

“Rapidly rebuilding their image.”

"Kirkland for hippies"

“Associates as peons is part of their business plan, but when things are good, it's gravy.”


“Something something something DARK SIDE. Something something COMPLETE.”

“Nothing will stop the Skadden machine.”

“Devil's advocates”

-posted by brian


Filed Under: Law

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