Our annual Midlevel Associates Survey is based on responses from 5,361 third-, fourth-, and fifth-year associates (classes of 2006, 2007, and 2008) from law firm offices around the globe. Any firm may participate in the survey, which is distributed during the spring.

We received responses from 38 percent of the 14,136 associates invited to take part. An individual firm’s response rate is based on the number of returns out of the surveys distributed. A firm can choose which branch offices take part, so the number of eligible midlevels does not always reflect the size of midlevel classes firmwide.

All of the responses are used to calculate the overall averages. We did not include part-time associates for the average hours billed.

For a firm to be included in the National Rankings chart, we must receive ten or more completed surveys from associates with the firm. This year, associates from 149 firms participated, and 126 of the firms returned the minimum ten responses. A firm’s national score is the average of 12 questions on the survey that summarize the firm’s qualities, including the interest and satisfaction levels of work; benefits and compensation; relations between asso¬ciates and partners; training and guidance; management’s openness about firm strategies and partnership chances; the firm’s attitude toward pro bono work; billable hours policy; and the likelihood of the associate being at the firm in two years.

Firms designated as national rather than by their headquarters have no more than 45 percent of their lawyers in any single region. Firms with an international designation have at least 40 percent of their lawyers working outside their home country. All others list the firm’s headquarters as their location.

For a branch office to be included in the Results by City chart, we must receive five or more completed responses from associates in that office. The same 12 questions are calculated for individual cities or markets to determine branch scores and rankings. All question averages are rounded to two decimal places. Scores for firms are calculated from those rounded question averages, and then rounded to three decimal places.