American Lawyer Releases 2017 A-List
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Summary: The American Lawyer has released its annual ranking of the most elite law firms. 

In the legal world, elitism matters. Being the best of the best means attracting and retaining the most lucrative clients; and just as a personality trait, lawyers are competitive in nature. They want to win, and they want others to know that they’re on top.


Cue The American Lawyer’s A-List. On Thursday, the legal journal released its list of “the most elite law firms in America,” and to create their ranking, they looked at several factors: financial strength, pro bono commitment, diversity, associate satisfaction, and the percentage of women in the equity partnership.

The number one firm on the list was Munger, Tolles & Olson in 
Los Angeles. Climbing from last year’s number two, the firm moved up thanks to its score in the categories of diversity (96.5), pro bono work (98.5), and number of female equity partners (93). Its RPL score (89.5) and associate satisfaction (83.5) numbers weren’t as hot, but the firm’s total score of 92.7 gave it an edge over Ropes & Gray.

Ropes & Gray’s national offices came in second place on the A-List. The firm had high scores in almost all areas except for diversity (86.5), and those scores gave Ropes & Gray an overall total of 91.9, moving it up five spots from last year.

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Paul, Weiss, Rifkind,
Wharton & Garrison
 in New York placed third. The firm which famously investigated the sexual harassment allegations at Fox News scored high in diversity (93.5) and the number of female equity partners present (90), but its lower pro bono score (79) dragged the total average to 87.1. According to American Lawyer, the firm’s elitism “rocketed” from 26th place to third and that was largely due to the publication’s new female equity partners category.

Next, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr
 (national) was named the fourth most elite law firm in America. According to American Lawyer, “its pro bono, RPL and female equity partner scores are among the strongest in The Am Law 200.” Unfortunately, its associate satisfaction score (78.5) and diversity score (67.5) brought the average down to 86.6.

In fifth place,  Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher (national) shone thanks to its impressively high associate satisfaction score (98). The firm’s high associate satisfaction, pro bono, and RPL scores kept the firm elite, but its female equity partners score (46) and diversity score (78.5) were disappointments.

Rounding out the top ten were Debevoise 
& Plimpton, 
New York; Paul Hastings, national; Shearman & Sterling, international; Covington & Burling, Washington, D.C.; and  Orrick, 
& Sutcliffe
, national.

American Lawyer’s 2017 A-List

  1.  Munger, Tolles & Olson, 
Los Angeles
  2. Ropes & Gray, National
  3. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind,
Wharton & Garrison
, New York
  4. Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr
, National
  5. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, National
  6. Debevoise 
& Plimpton, 
New York
  7. Paul Hastings, National
  8. Shearman & Sterling, International
  9. Covington & Burling, Washington, D.C.
  10. Orrick, 
& Sutcliffe
, National
  11. Milbank, Tweed, 
Hadley & McCloy
, New York
  12. O’Melveny & Myers, Los Angeles
  13. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, National
  14.  Simpson Thacher 
& Bartlett
, New York
  15. Manatt, Phelps 
& Phillips
, Los Angeles
  16. Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, Washington, D.C.
  17. Kirkland & Ellis, National
  18. Latham 
& Watkins, National
  19. Hughes Hubbard 
& Reed, 
New York
  20. Akin Gump
 Strauss Hauer
 & Feld, 

What do you think of this year’s A-List? Let us know in the comments below.


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