New York’s Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle finished last among the 160 firms ranked. Despite its small size and an atmosphere described by some as “very relaxed,” the 200-lawyer firm suffered from poor marks in management communication. Associates also said that Curtis Mallet management seemed to have a general disregard for associates’ opinions in firm affairs, with one associate describing managing partner George Kahale III as someone who “runs the firm as a dictatorship.”

One year later, it appears that the so-called dictatorship is benevolent. Curtis Mallet finished 63rd out of 175 firms nationwide in this year’s associates survey, registering the greatest improvement in overall score, rising from a 3.032 last year to 3.850 this year. It chalked up the third-highest improvement in rank as well, moving up almost 100 places. Curtis Mallet also scored well in associate-partner relations and had above-average scores in most other areas. But the real gains came in the category of openness regarding finances and strategy, the firm’s weakest point last year: This year its score jumped from 1.79 to 3.65.