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Yale Law Study Highlights Key Factors for Law Firm Selection
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Culture Dominates Yale Law Students’ Preferences in Law Firm Selection

Culture is the most significant factor for Yale Law School students when deciding which law firm offer to accept, according to a new report by Yale Law Women+. This priority far exceeds other factors such as compensation, advancement opportunities, and diversity policies.

Key Findings of the 2024 Top Firms Report

According to the 2024 Top Firms Report, 88% of surveyed students considered culture extremely or very important when choosing a firm. In contrast, other factors such as compensation and advancement opportunities were deemed extremely or very important by only 56% of students. Prestige was important to 49%, gender diversity to 44%, racial diversity to 42%, family life policies to 28%, and leave policies to 26%.

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Defining Positive Firm Culture

Yale Law Women+ defines a positive firm culture that makes attorneys enthusiastic about returning to work each day. It is characterized by making attorneys feel welcomed and valued without concealing aspects of their identity and personal expression.

Top Law Firms for Culture and Other Categories

Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel was identified as the top firm for culture. Honorable mentions in this category went to Holland & Knight and K&L Gates. The firm’s low attrition rates and support for diverse attorneys, including offering fertility-related benefits and free menstrual products, were highlighted.

Comprehensive Survey Methodology

The report is based on three surveys:

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  1. A survey of Vault Law 100 firms regarding their diversity, equity, and inclusion practices, with 32 responses.
  2. A survey of Yale Law students interested in working at firms or with a summer experience at firms, with 87 responses.
  3. A survey of Yale Law Women+ alumni who have worked at firms, with 47 responses.

These surveys were not restricted by gender, providing a broad perspective on firm culture and policies.

Categories and Top Firms

Rather than creating a top 10 list, Yale Law Women+ honored firms in five categories based on survey responses:



Culture

  • Top Firm: Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel
  • Honorable Mentions: Holland & Knight, K&L Gates

Advancement

  • Top Firm: Jenner & Block
  • Honorable Mentions: Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, K&L Gates

Jenner & Block was recognized for its commitment to promoting diverse talent and supporting junior associates through formal feedback and performance review processes.

Agency and Flexibility

  • Top Firm: Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton
  • Honorable Mention: Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe

Sheppard Mullin was lauded for its inclusive leave policies and flexible work options, accommodating various caregiving needs.

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Compensation

  • Top Firm: Ropes & Gray
  • Honorable Mentions: Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe

Ropes & Gray’s lockstep compensation model ensures equitable pay, with billable pro bono hours and generous caps for mentoring and diversity initiatives.

Compensation remains a significant consideration, with 56% of students rating it as “extremely” or “very” important. Advancement opportunities are also critical, with 51% marking them as very important when choosing firms for interviews and 56% considering them crucial when deciding between offers.

Diversity

  • Top Firm: Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe
  • Honorable Mentions: Latham & Watkins, Ropes & Gray

Orrick was praised for its high percentage of equity partners who are women, gender nonconforming, and people of color, supported by various affinity groups and equitable opportunity tracking.

Conclusion

The 2024 Top Firms Report by Yale Law Women+ emphasizes the importance of firm culture in the decision-making process of law students. The honored firms have demonstrated excellence in creating positive environments and supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession.



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