2021 Vault Rankings
At a Glance
“The work is fascinating!”
“The quality of the people at every level—extremely smart and always kind.”
“The unpredictable hours.”
“Sometimes inconsistent workflow.”
“Path to partner is opaque and uncertain.”
About Vinson & Elkins LLP
Founded in Houston in 1917, this Lone Star State institution rode the wildcatter era to build its name on (what else?) oil and gas matters. Vinson & Elkins hasn’t looked back since, establishing itself at the forefront of the global energy industry while growing its expertise in an array of other practice areas, such as technology, banking/finance, M&A/private equity, real estate, media, complex litigation, and tax.
A North Carolina native who adopted the city of Houston as his own, attorney William Vinson teamed up with local judge James Elkins in 1917. While representing its share of oil titans, Vinson & Elkins hedged its efforts by advising scores of smaller, independent oil prospectors—risky relationships with the potential to reap enormous paydays. V&E went from Houston straight to London in 1971 and went to the Asia Pacific before the bulk of BigLaw did (although the firm didn’t open an office in New York until 1998).
V&E’s low leverage, smartly managed finances, and willingness to diversify its practice portfolio (which now includes specialties in areas including banking/finance; technology; transportation; biotech; and complements to its oil and gas, environmental, regulatory, and renewables practices) should prove helpful no matter which way the economic winds blow.
V&E is a go-to firm for Big Oil. In fact, the firm ranks No. 1 in Vault’s Energy, Oil, & Gas ranking. With the industry’s major players consistently reporting multi-billion-dollar quarterly profits, V&E seems well positioned for the future.
The firm also has a top-notch Clean Energy & Renewables practice with experience working with hydro, solar, and wind energies; energy storage; fuel cells; smart-grid applications; biomass; waste-to-energy, and more. The team works across practices, bringing in the firm’s experience in environmental law counseling, licensing, M&A, project development, project financing, and regulatory counseling.
Aside from its energy work, the firm has a bustling corporate practice, with particular strengths in M&A, project finance, real estate, securities, and venture capital and emerging companies.
Plus Pro Bono
V&E isn’t just a big player in the energy world—it also has a strong commitment to pro bono, V&E lawyers perform an average of 30,000 hours of pro bono work every year. V&E is most known for the legal aid it provides veterans, nonprofits, low-income individuals, asylum seekers, and those seeking medical guardianship. You can read about V&E’s pro bono highlights as well as other stories on V&E’s values and ventures on its companion V&E+ site.
Vinson & Elkins has planned and participated in a number of virtual events for students including presentations on different practice areas, legal markets, difficult conversations around racial injustice, and interviewing tips. V&E is interviewing students virtually for next year’s Summer Program and looks forward to being back on campuses as soon as it is safe! For current attorneys, V&E is continuing a remote work environment for most lawyers in most offices, with frequent communication and check-ins from firm leaders and colleagues. The firm has also taken special care to support its working parents in this remote environment. V&E has had no layoffs or salary cuts during this period and will onboard its full class of 2020 new associates in January. For their clients, V&E has offered a number of COVID-related presentations and information on developing legal topics, which can be accessed on the V&E website.
News & Awards
For its efforts toward diversity and inclusion, Vinson & Elkins is recognized with a 100% score on the Corporate Equality Index for LGBTQ Workplace Equality from Human Rights Campaign, 2020 (listed for nine years); named one of the “Best Law Firms for Women” by Working Mother Magazine, 2020 (named for nine years); and received the Law Firm Partner in Equality Award from Lambda Legal 2020. Additionally, in 2020-2021, V&E is participating in the Mansfield Rule Certification to increase diversity in leadership.
More than 70% of V&E’s partners are named in leading legal publications for their expertise in 2020-2021, in Chambers, Legal 500, and Best Lawyers in America, including seven “Lawyers of the Year” recognitions.
To continue supporting efforts toward racial and social justice, V&E joined as a charter member of the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance (LFAA), created to better use the law as a vehicle for change to promote racial equity, particularly through pro bono efforts. In addition, in 2020, V&E launched an internal V&E Cares initiative to provide racial justice resources and programming for lawyers and staff and to encourage ongoing conversations and efforts. V&E has donated $100,000 to national organizations that are working to address racial injustice, structural inequity, and economic disparity, particularly within the Black community.
V&E’s New York presence significantly expanded during 2019 and 2020 with the addition of numerous well-known and respected lateral hires. A nationally recognized Real Estate team joined the firm’s growing New York office to expand a broad-based and sophisticated real estate practice that includes acquisitions, capital markets, and leasing transactions. Additional partner and counsel adds in New York bolster V&E's capabilities in project finance and cross-border transactions, including in Latin America and Spain, litigation and trial work, restructuring, executive compensation, and environmental matters. V&E's Manhattan office also relocated in 2020 to the iconic Grace Building across from Bryant Park.
- V&E recently advised The Carlyle Group and its Renewable and Sustainable Energy Fund in the acquisition of a portfolio of eight solar projects from BNRG, representing over $130 million of capital investment.
- V&E advised Noble Energy, Inc. in its acquisition by Chevron Corporation, a transaction with an enterprise value of $13 billion. At the time of its announcement in July 2020, it was the largest energy deal of the year and the largest M&A transaction across all industries in Texas.
- In 1998, V&E defended CBS’ 60 Minutes in a libel trial over a news report tying a Hispanic family to ownership of a slum colony on the U.S.-Mexico border.
- As early as 1940, Vinson & Elkins lawyers helped to secure a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling requiring more racially diverse representation on grand juries in Texas.
- America’s Top Corporate Law Firms, 2019—Forbes
- 20 Tier 1 National Rankings, 2020—U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms”
- Appellate Hot List, 2019—National Law Journal
- Energy Group of the Year for 10th consecutive year, 2020—Law360
- Recognized in 37 practice categories, with 109 individual lawyer rankings, 2020—Chambers USA
1001 Fannin Street
Houston, TX 77002
Phone: (713) 758-2222
Chairman: T. Mark Kelly
Managing Partner: Scott Wulfe
Talent Management Chair & Firm Hiring Partner: Steve Gill
Total No. Attorneys 2020:
500 - 750
No. of Partners Named 2020:
All U.S. offices
1st year: $190,000
2nd year: $200,000
3rd year: $220,000
4th year: $255,000
5th year: $280,000
6th year: $305,000
7th year: $325,000
8th year: $340,000
Summer Associate: $3,654/week
Director of Entry-Level Hiring
See more information on the firm's website.
No. of U.S. Offices: 7
No. of International Offices: 4
New York, NY
San Francisco, CA
Complex Commercial Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Employment, Labor and OSHA
Environmental and Natural Resources
M&A/Private Equity/Venture Capital
Restructuring & Reorganization
Tax/Employment Benefits/Executive Compensation
*See firm website for complete list of practice areas and industries.