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by Vault Law Editors | July 27, 2010


Aspiring trial lawyers are looking for the best litigation departments; would-be corporate rainmakers want to know which are the hottest M&A shops. For the savviest law students and lateral associates, the choice of an employer involves considering an array of factors, and none is more important than specific practice area prowess.

Today we release the Vault Law Practice Area Rankings—an invaluable resource for candidates to learn how actual practitioners in the field assess their peers in 21 separate practice areas.

In order to determine the Vault Practice Area Rankings, associates were able to vote for up to three firms in their own practice area, but were not permitted to vote for their own firm. Self-identified corporate associates were allowed to vote only in the corporate-related categories; litigators were allowed to vote in the litigation categories, and so on. Our rankings indicate the top firms in each area, as well the total percentage of votes.

Here are the top-ranked firms in each category (along with a “Buzz” quote from an associate at a peer firm):

Corporate categories:

General Corporate Practice: Wachtell (“Unmatched”)
M&A: Wachtell (“Always the best. David Katz's M&A articles are just great.”)
Private Equity: Simpson Thacher (“Very intellectual, attention to detail”)
Securities: Sullivan & Cromwell (“Doing really well despite the economy”)

Litigation categories:

General Commercial Litigation: Kirkland & Ellis (“Collegial and very skilled litigators”)
Antitrust Litigation: Skadden (“A+ for keeping it real. What you see is what you get.”)
Appellate Litigation: Gibson Dunn (“Innovative. Happy associates”)
Class Actions: Skadden (“Brilliant lawyers”)
IP Litigation: Fish & Richardson (“Extremely bright patent litigators”)
Labor & Employment Disputes: Littler Mendelson (“Great labor and employment firm”)
Products Liability: Skadden (“Classy outfit, these guys are professionals”)
Securities Litigation: Skadden (“Top dog”)
White Collar Defense/Internal Investigations: Williams & Connolly (“Because everybody who's anybody gets indicted”)

Other categories:

Antitrust: Arnold & Porter (“Cerebral; Antitrust kings”)
Bankruptcy/Creditors’ Rights: Weil Gotshal (“Where else would you want to be during the great recession?”)
Clean Tech/Renewable Energy: Cooley LLP (“Silicon Valley player”)
Intellectual Property: Fish & Richardson (“Winners”)
International: White & Case (“The definition of ‘international’”)
Labor & Employment: Morgan Lewis (“Great employment group”)
Real Estate: Fried Frank (“Real estate bosses”)
Tax: Skadden (“Nothing will stop the Skadden machine”)

-posted by brian


Filed Under: Law
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