Published: Jun 23, 2022
The results are in, and for the seventh straight year, Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP has clinched the No. 1 spot in the Vault Law 100, making it the most prestigious law firm yet again. At its heels is a familiar face—Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, which has remained in the No. 2 spot this year after getting back there in 2022.
The Vault 100 may be viewed in its entirety here.
The top 10 most prestigious firms based on Vault’s Law Firm Associate Survey for 2023 are:
#1 Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
#2 Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
#3 Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP & Affiliates
#8 Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
#9 Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
#10 Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP
This is the fifth straight year that these 10 firms have been at the top of the Vault Law 100.
Cravath sits comfortably on its Top 100 throne with an eye-popping prestige score of 9.052, 0.323 points higher than Wachtell’s (very impressive) score of 8.729. Survey respondents describe Cravath as “extremely prestigious,” “top notch,” and “elite,” and also note that the firm is an “industry trend setter” and “compensation leader.”
“Cravath is the standard against which all other firms measure themselves, with the firm securely atop the Vault Law 100 year after year and also within the top 10 of multiple practice area rankings,” said Travis Whitsitt, Law Editor at Vault. “Cravath moves, and other firms follow. The firm has established industry standards on hiring and compensation for years, and even when it isn’t the first to move, Cravath’s decision to join influences the market—as with this year’s compensation and special bonus announcements. After all, every associate is well aware of the meaning of the term ‘Cravath scale.’”
Salary Wars Lead To Big Shakeups
After kicking off the famous salary wars of 2022, which ultimately led to the majority of big firms matching the aptly-named Milbank raises, Milbank LLP made an astonishing double-digit leap in the rankings from #23 to #11.
Although the Vault 10 remained the same, there was significant movement inside that band. Davis Polk was the first member of the Vault 10 to match the Milbank raises, and they made a three-point jump to claim a spot in the top four.
Other big movers this year include Cooley LLP, who rose five ranks from last year to clock in at #19, and Wilson Sonsini, rising seven ranks to knock on the door of the top 30 at #31.
“Keep an eye on Cooley,” said Whitsitt. “It has been steadily rising in prestige, and they just cracked the Vault 20. There’s no reason to think they can’t keep rising.”
Behind the Vault Law Rankings
The Vault Law 100 rankings are based on scores from more than 20,000 law firm associates surveyed earlier this year, who were asked to rate law firms on a scale of 1 to 10 based on prestige. Survey respondents were not allowed to rate their own firms and were asked only to rate firms with which they were familiar.
About Vault Law
Vault Law, an Infobase company, is the most comprehensive and trusted resource for law students and laterals to research law firms. Vault Law’s law firm rankings and profiles deliver the insider perspective and essential information candidates need to make successful career decisions. Each year, Vault Law surveys thousands of associates to understand what life is like for attorneys at the nation’s top law firms. Vault Law ranks law firms by prestige, region, and practice area as well as highlighting the top firms for quality of life using its annual survey results. Additionally, Vault Law publishes other valued resources including the Vault Guide to Summer Associate Programs and Interviewing, Practice Perspectives: Vault’s Guide to Legal Practice Areas, and Law Firm Diversity Profiles. Through Vault’s law school platform, thousands of students from nearly 100 partnering law schools across the country have unlimited access to this critical information.
Questions? Contact Vault's Law Editor, Travis Whitsitt: email@example.com