Everybody loves a good ranking (unless you’re one of the unlucky few at the bottom of the list, or left off altogether). Vault.com, which provides employer and university rankings, ratings and reconnaissance, yesterday released its 2013 Practice Area Rankings.

The annual rankings examine 23 different practice areas, including bankruptcy, clean tech, corporate, energy, intellectual property, international, litigation, real estate, labor and employment, tax and technology law practices.

Vault’s rankings differ somewhat from other rankings. To get its rankings data, Vault sends a survey to law firm associates asking them to rank the top firms in their own practice areas. For the 2013 survey, Vault polled nearly 17,000 associates from across the country. Respondents voted for up to three firms in their practice areas (they were not permitted to vote for their own firms).

“Associates have unique insights into the strengths of practice areas at their peer firms,” Vault.com’s law editor Rachel Marx told InsideCounsel. “They interact with other associates and partners at these firms while working on deals and cases, and this experience informs their opinion of which firms are the strongest in their practice area.”

The rankings are intended to indicate the top firms in each area, as well the total percentage of votes, and are designed as an aid for law students and associates in their career search.

Listed below are the leading law firms in each category area along with some of the hype of what associates at other firms told Vault about the leader in parentheses:


Top-ranked firms in corporate categories:

General corporate practice: Wachtell Lipton (“Gold standard corporate firm”)

Financial services: Sullivan & Cromwell (“Top notch lawyers”)

M&A: Wachtell Lipton (“Excellent New York M&A”)

Private equity: Simpson Thacher (“Private equity powerhouse”)

Securities: Sullivan & Cromwell (“Stellar firm”)


Top-ranked firms in litigation categories:

General commercial litigation: Quinn Emanuel (“Trial leaders”)

Appellate litigation: Gibson Dunn (“Fantastic litigators”)

Class actions: Skadden Arps (“Cream of the crop”)

Products liability: Skadden Arps (“Best all around”)

Securities litigation: Skadden Arps (“Great reputation”)

White collar defense: Williams & Connolly (“Best litigators by a mile”)

Litigation boutique: Susman Godfrey


Top-ranked firms in other categories:

Antitrust: Cleary Gottlieb (“Solid all around”)

Bankruptcy: Weil Gotshal (“Bankruptcy masters”)

Clean tech: Morrison & Foerster (“Progressive and smart”)

Energy: Vinson & Elkins (“Oil and gas central”)

Intellectual property: Fish & Richardson (“As good as it gets for IP”)

Intellectual property boutiques: Knobbe, Martens, Olson & Bear

International: Freshfields (“International powerhouse”)

Labor & employment: Seyfarth Shaw (“Excellent labor and employment”)

Real estate: Fried Frank (“Bright, hard-working attorneys”)

Tax: Skadden Arps (“Precise”)

Technology: Fish & Richardson (“Technology savvy”)

Visit Vault.com to see the top 15 ranked law firms in each category.


For other recent law-related rankings, read:

U.S. News & World Report names 2013 best law schools

Top 25 U.S. law firms named by brand

Best law firms named by U.S. News & World Report