Wachtell, Lipton holds onto most prestigious law firm title


New York’s Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz topped the list of most pretigious law firms for the eighth year in a row, according to Vault Law. Nine out of the top ten firms are based in New York, with one in Chicago — Kirtland & Ellis. Nearly 17,000 associates around the country took the survey, which is one of six law firm ranking lists the career services company releases annually.

The lists serve as a tool for current law school students preparing for on-campus interviews, said Rachel Marx, law editor at Vault. Students can compare firms against the various rankings such as, “Best Law Firms to Work For” and “Best Law Firms in Each U.S. Region” to help decide which is best for them, especially students preparing for on-campus interviews. 

“A lot of students use these numbers to narrow down their search when they’re getting ready for on-campus interviews,” Marx said. “It helps students focus their research when they are just starting the employment search and figuring out what firms they are most interested in.”

Each year Vault sends surveys to law associates around the country. The prestige rankings are determined by associates who are asked to rank on a scale of one to 10 how prestigious they perceive firms other than their own to be, meaning it is an external ranking in which associates cannot vote for their own firm.

Marx added that the prestige rankings matter to students who are not planning to stay at one firm forever. The lists can help them plan ahead for future career moves.

“Students care about the prestige of the firm because it could determine their exit opportunities,” she said. “Whether they want a lateral move to a smaller firm, or they eventually want to go in-house or pursue a government opportunity—those kinds of things make prestige matter.”


1 Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz (New York, NY)
2 Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP (New York, NY)
3 Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Affiliates (New York, NY)
4 Sullivan & Cromwell LLP  (New York, NY)
5 Davis, Polk & Wardwell (New York, NY)
6  Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP (New York, NY)
7  Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett LLP (New York, NY)
8  Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton LLP (New York, NY)
9  Kirkland & Ellis LLP (Chicago, IL)
10  Latham & Watkins LLP (New York, NY)