The Vault rankings of law firm prestige are out. The Vault rankings are based on surveys filled out by 15,000 law firm associates who rate firms on perceived status. No matter how you feel about rankings, these are an interesting read because they include some of the associates’ comments about the firms.
No firm based in Baltimore made the list, but several large firms with a major presence here did. Here’s are their rankings and a sampling what Vault and associates said about them.
- Hogan & Hartson (the survey was done before Hogan merged with the British firm Lovells earlier this year) ranked 28 this year, down from 25 last year. Vault comments, “As one would expect of the largest and oldest BigLaw firm with roots in Washington, D.C., Hogan & Hartson’s Beltway influence runs deep” and notes that Chief Justice John Roberts is a Hogan alum. Associates called the firm “lifestyle-friendly” but also “legends in their own minds” and criticized Hogan for “stealth layoffs.”
- DLA Piper ranked 53, down from 44 last year. Vault comments, “Some love it, some dislike it, but generally associates agree that recent salary cuts have lowered morale.” Associates said things like “competitive and diverse,” “amazing pro bono opportunities” and, somewhat bewilderingly, “extra large pizza with no toppings.” Associates also said the firm is too big. One senior associate told Vault, “Within 12 months, I have gone from my friends saying “wow” when I tell them I work at DLA Piper, to them snickering and asking me why I haven’t left yet.”
- McGuireWoods‘ ranking is unchanged from last year, at 82. Vault says, “McGuire attorneys enjoy the rewards of working at a big-market firm in small-market settings, entering friendly offices in the morning and heading home to their families at night.” Associates made comments like, “good firm; good people,” “old school, boring,” “less pressure than many other similar-sized firms” and “favoritism toward anointed associates.”
- Venable comes in at 83, up from 85 last year. Vault comments, “Venable LLP is a mid-Atlantic force that, until the capital markets meltdown, had defined itself by aggressive expansion.” Associates said, “very nice mid-Atlantic practice,” “quirky,” “strong pro bono commitment” and “bonus and compensation system allows firm to rationalize less-than-market salaries for certain associates.” There’s also a comment from a Baltimore corporate associate: “In Baltimore, we do fairly sophisticated work. It’s not Wall Street, but the projects are interesting and challenging. My practice group covers a lot of people and a lot of different sub-specialties, so it can be hard to find your place when you start. It is difficult to see what the future of the group is. While it’s not written anywhere, if you bill 2000 hours people are pleased.”