Associates consider McCarter & English and Lowenstein Sandler among the best mid-Atlantic firms to work for, according to an annual survey.

McCarter, in Newark, placed 18th of 25 firms on Vault.com's regional ranking, based on work experience, training, compensation, business outlook and culture, among other issues.

Lowenstein, in Roseland, was 23rd in the survey, released July 10, of firms in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland.

McCarter and Lowenstein are the only ones on the list based in New Jersey.

No. 1 was New York-based Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, included by virtue of its 60-attorney office in Wilmington, Del.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, in second place, and Dechert, in third, are based in Philadelphia and have offices in Princeton.

Associates were given a list of firms and asked to rate, on a scale of 1 to 10, those with which they were familiar. They were not allowed to rate their own firms.

The rankings "reflect the insights of attorneys on the strengths of peer firms within their geographic region," says Vera Djordjevich, Vault.com's director of research and consulting.

"The law firms in our regional rankings include firms that may be renowned nationally or even internationally as well as locally; regardless of size, what they all have in common is that they have established themselves as leaders in their area," she adds.

Vault is a provider of career information about law firms, banks, consulting companies, accounting firms, public relations firms, and media and entertainment companies.

The mid-Atlantic rankings were dominated by 14 Philadelphia-based firms — Morgan, Lewis; Dechert; Pepper Hamilton; Duane Morris; Ballard Spahr; Drinker, Biddle & Reath; Blank Rome; Cozen O'Connor; Saul Ewing; Fox Rothschild; Hangley Aronchick Segal & Pudlin; Dilworth Paxson; Schnader, Harrison, Segal & Lewis; and Stradley, Ronon, Stevens & Young.

The list also includes four based in Pittsburgh: Reed Smith, with an office in Princeton; K&L Gates, with an office in Newark; Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, with offices in Newark and Princeton; and Eckert, Seamans, Cherin & Mellott, with offices in Newark and Trenton.

McCarter slipped one notch from its 17th-place ranking last year, and Lowenstein fell three spots from No. 20.

Two years ago, McCarter placed 15th, the only New Jersey firm to make the list.

In its lists that came out in 2010 and 2009, Vault.com published only the top 15 firms in the mid-Atlantic states; McCarter was 14th in 2011 and 15th in 2010. In the previous three years, Vault.com only listed 10 mid-Atlantic law firms and no New Jersey firms made those lists.

Vault.com also puts out a list of the 25 firms with the best quality of life, as determined by associates' ratings of their own firms. No New Jersey firms made either of those rankings.

And Vault.com publishes a national tally of the 125 most highly regarded firms.

The top three, based on responses from 17,000 associates across the country, are New York's Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz; Cravath, Swaine & Moore; and Sullivan & Cromwell.

The firm with the best quality of life is Paul Hastings of New York, followed by Ropes & Gray of Boston and Williams & Connolly of Washington, D.C.

Gary Wingens, chairman and managing partner at Lowenstein, says his firm has not participated in Vault surveys or research for many years.

McCarter & English declines to comment on the survey, says spokeswoman Daria Hall.