Last week, Vault released the 2022 edition of its closely watched law firm rankings, proving that money — in the form of Cravath’s perennially competitive pay scale — can buy prestige.
But can that money buy happiness?
In a companion ranking to the Vault 100, associates were asked to rank their own law firms based on categories most relevant to their overall quality of life, including satisfaction; firm culture; hours; compensation; quality of work; business outlook; career outlook; associate/partner relations; transparency; formal and informal training; pro bono; and overall diversity. Fifty firms were ranked for Vault’s 2022 Best Law Firms to Work For survey, which was conducted from March 2021 through May 2021, so we’re getting a bird’s eye view of “post-pandemic” life at these firms. Once again, and this may be surprising for some, but none of the firms that made the Top 10 list for being the most prestigious made the Top 10 list for being the best firms to work for.
There was a huge amount of movement in the Top 10 this year. Which firms made the cut? Without any further ado, here are the Top 10 Best Law Firms to Work For based on Vault’s Annual Associate Survey for 2022:
- McDermott Will & Emery
- O’Melveny & Myers
- Clifford Chance US
- Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe
- Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
- Ropes & Gray
- Proskauer Rose
- Paul Hastings
We’ll say it again: none of the firms that listed here made it into the Top 10 of the Vault prestige ranking. Can you name 10 firms that have been overworking their associates? We can!
This time around, McDermott stole O’Melveny’s chance for a history-making threepeat as the first firm to ever earn the No. 1 spot in the overall ranking for each major category (Overall Best Law Firm to Work For, Overall Diversity, and Overall Best Summer Associate Program) for three years in a row. The firm will just have to settle for a two-year run, because McDermott took each of those titles this year. That said, here are the No. 1 and No. 2 firms in each Quality of Life category (and you’ll soon see why we’re including second-place finishers as well):
- Associate/Partner Relations: 1. McDermott Will & Emery / 2. O’Melveny & Myers
- Business Outlook: 1. McDermott Will & Emery / 2. Latham & Watkins
- Career Outlook: 1. McDermott Will & Emery / 2. O’Melveny & Myers
- Compensation: 1. McDermott Will & Emery / 2. Wachtell Lipton
- Firm Culture: 1. McDermott Will & Emery / 2. O’Melveny & Myers
- Formal Training: 1. McDermott Will & Emery / 2. Ropes & Gray
- Hours: 1. McDermott Will & Emery / 2. O’Melveny & Myers
- Informal Training, Mentoring, & Sponsorship: 1. McDermott Will & Emery / 2. Eversheds Sutherland US
- Integration of Laterals & Clerks: 1. Robinson & Cole / 2. McDermott Will & Emery
- Pro Bono: 1. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius / 2. Orrick
- Quality of Work: 1. McDermott Will & Emery / 2. O’Melveny & Myers
- Satisfaction: 1. McDermott Will & Emery / 2. O’Melveny & Myers
- Selectivity: 1. Williams & Connolly / 2. Wachtell Lipton
- Technology & Innovation: 1. McDermott Will & Emery / 2. Robinson & Cole
- Transparency: 1. McDermott Will & Emery / 2. O’Melveny & Myers
- Wellness: 1. McDermott Will & Emery / 2. Orrick
This is the first time that McDermott has taken the No. 1 spot. “This past year was a difficult one for everyone in the legal industry, but it appears that McDermott responded in all the right ways,” said Mary Kate Sheridan, Vault’s senior law editor. “Associates rave about the firm’s culture and say the firm continued to foster connections virtually throughout the pandemic. They also feel the firm is supportive of associate wellness, offering—among other perk —25 hours of billable credit for mindfulness, and believe the firm is invested in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Clearly, the firm’s efforts have bolstered associate satisfaction.”
Congratulations to each of the Biglaw firms that made the latest edition of the Vault Best Firms to Work For rankings, and a huge congratulations to McDermott for completely sweeping the rankings. How did your firm do? Email us, text us at (646) 820-8477, or tweet us @atlblog to let us know how you feel.
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.