Two commercial enterprises, U.S. News and Best Lawyers, have released a set of rankings of over 8,000 law firms. Rather than assigning a numerical rank to each, they divide specific practice areas of firms into one of 3 tiers. They actually assign each practice area both a local and a national tier ranking. 81 different practice areas are included in the rankings.
The publishers claim to have surveyed more than 9,000 clients and just about the same number of attorneys. They also apparently factored in the 3.1 million individual attorney evaluations that the Best Lawyers enterprise compiled. They also claim to have considered: attorney experience, number of clients, billing ranges, the number of matters, pro bono work, and diversity also counted.
This set of rankings follows the recent release of a similar commercial enterprise called Chambers Associate (published by Chambers and Partners). These rankings and surveys, along with other more established ones like The Vault Reports Guide to America’s Top 100 Law Firms and the American Lawyer surveys — http://www.americanlawyer.com/ (see Surveys and Rankings section of the left side bar menu) ought to be viewed with a healthy amount of circumspection.
In making you aware of this potential new research resource, we are not offering an endorsement of it nor are we intending to vouch for ts methods or conclusions. We encourage you to examine its particular methodology and think critically about its conclusions — just as you would with any other survey or rankings list.
One other thing to keep in mind is that the U.S. News/Best Lawyers rankings are designed for clients to determine which firms to hire; it was not designed to inform law graduates about the best places to work.
We continue to believe that the best resource for deciding the best place for you to work (summer and beyond) is “human intelligence” — talking to one or more CDO attorney-counselors, lawyers who are practicing in the areas in which you want to work, 3Ls or classmates who worked at firms this past summer, etc.
Berkeley Law students can find other students’ prior summer evaluations (along with their contact information) in the b-Line (click on the “Summer Evaluations” shortcut from the b-Line homepage).