Vault's 2013 Best Law Firms in Each Practice Area

Published: Jun 27, 2012

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For many law students—and most laterals—practice area strength is a key metric for determining which law firm will provide the best opportunities for career development. After all, it can be hard to find work you’re passionate about if your firm doesn’t offer the practice area that interests you.

To help you hone your job search, Vault ranks law firms not only in overall prestige, but also in a variety of practice areas. In our annual survey, associates are asked to vote for up to three firms in their practice areas (associates are not permitted to vote for their own firms). 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).

This year, Skadden cleaned up the practice rankings with four No. 1 spots in Class Actions, Products Liability, Securities Litigation and Tax. Wachtell Lipton, Sullivan & Cromwell and Fish & Richardson received two No. 1 rankings each. And Quinn Emanuel swooped in to the No. 1 spot on our General Commercial Litigation list, displacing mainstay Kirkland & Ellis.

Below is a list of the firms that ranked No. 1 in their respective practice areas, along with a sample of our respondents’ opinions of these firms. For our full practice area rankings, click here.

Antitrust: Cleary Gottlieb (last year: Cleary Gottlieb)

  • “solid all around”

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

  • “fantastic litigators”

Bankruptcy: Weil Gotshal (last year: Weil Gotshal)

  • “one of the big guys,” “powerhouse,” “bankruptcy masters”

Class Actions: Skadden (last year: Skadden)

  • “cream of the crop”

Clean Tech/Renewable Energy: Morrison & Foerster (last year: Baker Botts)

  • “progressive and smart”

Energy, Oil and Gas: Vinson & Elkins (last year: Baker Botts)

  • “oil and gas central”

Financial Services: Sullivan & Cromwell (note: this ranking is new for 2013)

  • “stellar firm,” “prestigious,” “the best”

General Commercial Litigation: Quinn Emanuel (last year: Kirkland & Ellis)

  • “trial leaders,” “serious litigators who get to wear flip-flops to work”

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

  • “best corporate lawyers,” “brilliant people,” “gold standard corporate firm”

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

  • “as good as it gets for IP”

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

International: Freshfields (last year: Freshfields)

  • “international powerhouse”

Labor and Employment: Seyfarth Shaw (last year: Morgan Lewis)

  • “excellent labor and employment”

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

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

  • “excellent New York M&A”

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

  • “private equity powerhouse,” “elite private equity fund formation practice,” “top corporate firm”

Products Liability: Skadden (last year: Skadden)

  • “best all around”

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

  • “real estate power,” “bright, hard-working attorneys”

Securities: Sullivan & Cromwell (last year: Sullivan & Cromwell)

  • “top-notch lawyers”

Securities Litigation: Skadden (last year: Skadden)

  • “great reputation”

Tax: Skadden (last year: Skadden)

  • “precise,” “high profile”

Technology: Fish & Richardson (last year: Wilson Sonsini)

  • “techies,” “technology savvy”

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

  • “best litigators by a mile”