Announcing Vault's 2014 Law Firm Practice Area Rankings

Published: Jul 11, 2013

 Job Search       Law has just released its annual Practice Area Rankings, which reflect the prestige of firms within specific practice areas, as determined by associates at peer firms.

To help you hone your job search, Vault ranks law firms not only in overall prestige, but also in a variety of practice areas. These rankings are based on the opinions of associates who took our annual Law Firm Associate Survey earlier this year. In our survey, associates are asked to vote for up to three firms they consider strongest in their own practice area, but they are not permitted to vote for their own firm. For example, associates who identify themselves as corporate attorneys are allowed only to vote in corporate-related categories (e.g., M&A, financial services and securities). Our rankings indicate the top firms in each area (those that received the highest percentage of votes).

Last year, Skadden pulled in the most No. 1 spots with four top rankings. This year, Skadden beats its own record by claiming top honors in six different categories — Products Liability, Securities Litigation, General Corporate, Project Finance, Securities and Tax — in the process, toppling the former King of Corporate Law, Wachtell, as well as last year’s Securities champ, Sullivan & Cromwell.

Other firms that made it to the top of practice rankings include Sidley Austin, which now holds the No. 1 position in both Financial Services and Energy, Oil & Gas; and Morrison & Foerster, which moved into the top spot for Technology and remains No. 1 in Clean Tech (this year sharing the rank with Wilson Sonsini).

Here is a look at the leaders of the 2014 Practice Area Rankings, including the No. 1 firm in each practice for both this year and last year, as well as a sample of our survey respondents’ views of the firms. For a full list of the Best Law Firms in Each Practice Area, click here.

General Commercial Litigation: Quinn Emanuel (last year: Quinn Emanuel)

  • “premier litigation firm,” “smart lawyers,” “top-notch litigators,” “trial experts”

Appellate Litigation: Gibson Dunn (last year: Gibson Dunn)

  •  “great appellate practice,” “at the cutting edge of litigation,” “appellate gurus”

Products Liability: Skadden (last year: Skadden)

  • “elite litigators,” “BigLaw machine”

Securities Litigation: Skadden (last year: Skadden)

  • “top dog,” “the best”

White Collar Defense and Internal Investigations: Williams & Connolly (last year: Williams & Connolly)

  • “must-hire for high-stakes litigation and investigations,” “best of the best,” “the people I would want if I got sued”

Litigation Boutiques: Susman Godfrey (last year: Susman Godfrey)

General Corporate Practice: Skadden (last year: Wachtell Lipton)

  • “M&A powerhouse,” “the best of the really, really big firms”

Financial Services: Sidley Austin (last year: Sullivan & Cromwell)

  • “big name,” “elite,” “good finance services group”

M&A: Wachtell Lipton (last year: Wachtell Lipton)

  • “best corporate firm,” “go-to for complex transactions,” “No. 1 until the apocalypse”

Private Equity: Simpson Thacher (last year: Simpson Thacher)

  • “the PE shop,” “classy group,” “the real deal”

Project Finance: Skadden (note: this is a new category)

  • “awesome,” “cutting-edge matters”

Securities: Skadden (last year: Sullivan & Cromwell)

  • “prestigious,” “the best”

Antitrust: Cleary Gottlieb (last year: Cleary Gottlieb)

  •  “brilliant,” “good at everything,” “always impressed by these guys”

Bankruptcy: Weil Gotshal (last year: Weil Gotshal)

  • “gold standard in bankruptcy,” “great firm,” “elite restructuring group”

Clean Tech/Renewable Energy: Morrison & Foerster and Wilson Sonsini (tie) (last year: Morrison & Foerster)

  • “geek power,” “strong in environmental law,” “the cool kids” (MoFo)
  • “the place to be in Silicon Valley,” “innovative,” “interesting start-up clients” (Wilson Sonsini)

Energy, Oil and Gas: Sidley Austin (last year: Vinson & Elkins)

  •  “elite firm,” “good for structured finance,” “solid and reliable lawyers”

Intellectual Property: Fish & Richardson (last year: Fish & Richardson)

  • “IP rock stars,” “top-notch, “excellent IP shop”

IP Boutiques: Knobbe Martens (last year: Knobbe Martens)

International: Freshfields (last year: Freshfields)

  • “great for international law,” “huge in England,” “growing U.S. practice,” “excellent firm all around

Labor and Employment: Littler Mendelson (last year: Seyfarth Shaw)

  • “boutique on a big scale,” “employment powerhouse,” “best labor practice”

Real Estate: Fried Frank (last year: Fried Frank)

  • “great for real estate,” “consistently strong,” “top pick for applicants”

Tax: Skadden (last year: Skadden)

  • “you know they are good”

Technology: Morrison & Foerster (last year: Fish & Richardson)

  • “huge in California and IP,” “high-tech firm,” “innovative, “fun and exciting place to work”