Vault ‘Quality Of Life’ Rankings: The Best Law Firms To Work For In America (2021)

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Last week, Vault released the 2021 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 2021 Best Law Firms to Work For survey (up from 25 in its 2019 ranking). Once again, and this may be surprising for some, but almost 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 2021:

  1. O’Melveny Myers (no change)
  2. Orrick Herrington Sutcliffe (+2)
  3. Ropes Gray (+3)
  4. Clifford Chance US (-1)
  5. Eversheds Sutherland (+10)
  6. Paul Hastings (+1)
  7. Latham Watkins (-5)
  8. Gibson Dunn Crutcher (+16)
  9. Patterson Belknap Webb Tyler (not ranked; first time in Top 10)
  10. Willkie Farr Gallagher (+4)

Latham and Gibson Dunn are the only law firms that made it into the Top 10 on both of Vault’s rankings. Kudos on keeping your associates so happy.

It’s also worth noting that O’Melveny made history again, 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 two years in a row. That said, here are the No. 1 firms in each Quality of Life category:

  • Associate/Partner Relations: O’Melveny Myers
  • Business Outlook: Gibson Dunn Crutcher
  • Career Outlook: O’Melveny Myers
  • Compensation: Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen Katz
  • Firm Culture: O’Melveny Myers
  • Formal Training: Ropes Gray
  • Hours: O’Melveny Myers
  • Informal Training, Mentoring, Sponsorship: O’Melveny Myers
  • Integration of Laterals Clerks: Patterson Belknap Webb Tyler
  • Pro Bono: Patterson Belknap Webb Tyler
  • Quality of Work: O’Melveny Myers
  • Satisfaction: O’Melveny Myers
  • Selectivity: Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen Katz
  • Technology Innovation: Orrick Herrington Sutcliffe
  • Transparency: Munger, Tolles Olson
  • Wellness: O’Melveny Myers

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 O’Melveny 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.

Best Law Firms to Work For (2021) [Vault]


Staci ZaretskyStaci ZaretskyStaci 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.

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