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The ATL Power 100 Law Firms (2015)
Welcome to the 2015 ATL Power 100 Law Firm Rankings, presented by Kinney Recruiting.
White-shoe? Prestige? Why do we rank law firms like we’re sitting in a country club during the Eisenhower Administration? The ATL Power Firms are the ones that move the market. Today. These are the firms that set the pace on lawyer pay and compete for the wealthiest clients. These are the market leaders. In order.
Let’s be clear: in this market, the “best” law firm is the one that will employ you. If you have a job, congratulations, you’re number one. But the methods for evaluating the large law firms that are best at the business of practicing law are stuck in the past. The new normal means new challenges for firms. Is bigger always better? More revenue sounds nice, unless the firm is overly reliant on a few rainmakers who can jump ship and leave the rest of the firm scrambling for clients. Surely, the last client who cared about white-shoe status is somewhere trying to find a new ribbon for his typewriter.
With these rankings, Above the Law is trying to capture the strength and relevance of major law firms in today’s market. Who are the market leaders? Which firms are still making and retaining their partners? Where do you want to work? Power, post-recession, is about what you are, not what you used to be.
The Power 100 blends objective data points (changes in headcount over time, “homegrown” partners, and number of women partners) with subjective feedback from over 20,000 associates, partners, and other members of the legal community. The result is a more complete picture of each firm, encompassing employee satisfaction, compensation, reputation, desirability as an employer, and data-driven measures of firm growth. The Power 100 is meant to offer a new perspective on some of the most prestigious and wealthy firms by using a new rubric to show how they stack up against the competition.
The Power 100 Rankings
Combines results from legacy firms SNR Denton and Frasner Milner Casgrain
Combines results from legacy firms Ogilvy Renault, Macleod Dixon and Fulbright & Jaworski
Combines results from legacy firms Patton Boggs and Squire Sanders
Back in July, we launched the ATL Law Firm Reputation Survey, asking those of you working in Biglaw to rate your peers and competitors. For our purposes, we split “reputation” into two distinct aspects: 1) the reputed strength and quality of a firm’s practice, and 2) the perceived desirability of the firm as a potential employer. (For some, these factors will be functionally equivalent. For others, these are less overlapping considerations.) In addition, the ATL Law Firm Reputation Survey asked respondents to rate firms in their specific market for both practice quality as well as desirability as potential employers. (In creating the survey, we limited our city-specific firm choices to offices with at least 50 lawyers.)
Firms are rated on a scale with 100 possible points:
“Strength and quality of practice”: 35%
Ratio of equity partners to all other attorneys: 5%
% change in headcount since 2009: 5%
Likelihood of incoming associates making equity partner: 5% *
Obviously, we are making value judgments in choosing and assigning weight to these metrics. For example, we are rewarding firms for maintaining low leverage, or for offering a relatively better chance for incoming associates to eventually ascend to partnership. Also, to be sure, law firms are not homogenous in their approaches to partnership tracks or compensation structures or other aspects that we have sought to measure here, but we have done our best to account for these differences and create a formula that allows for meaningful comparisons.
The perfect “ATL score” is 100. Each firm is awarded a maximum number of points based on the weight of each metric (a maximum of 25 points for highest compensation rating, 5 points for highest growth headcount, etc.). The points are awarded on a sliding scale from highest to lowest. (For certain categories, firms were placed into tiers and points were apportioned accordingly.) Those points add up to the total ATL score seen on the rankings table.
** Data for the “homegrown” metric courtesy of Leopard Solutions.
*** Compensation rating accounts for the following 4 factors: first-year salary, recent track record for bonuses, profits per partner (as reported to Am Law), and survey data.