Top law firms for associate quality of life

Associate satisfaction wide

In our 2020 research, we identified the best-performing law firms for associate quality of life.

We weigh up the perks and the demands of life in BigLaw and assess which firms find the best balance.

Methodology

For every firm taking part in our annual interview-based research, we also invite their junior associates to respond to an online survey covering every aspect of law firm life. They complete 40 questions asking about everything from their initial views on the firm and its competitors, to their relationships with partners and clients, to the firm's handling of D&I and pro bono. We also ask them about their expectations, aspirations and how important all these factors were when joining the profession and how those views change as they mature. Each question involves a rating, which we agglomerate here for comparison. The quality of life scores are a combination of all topics that can affect personal fulfillment at a law firm, from salary, to hours, to flexible working, to parental policy. 

Rank Firm Survey score

1

Patterson Bellknap 54.886

 

Patterson Belknap and the judiciary go together like PB & J. This disputes dynamo "isn't a factory firm;” it offers the New York market something a little different...... Read More  

2

White & Case 53.468

 

Building its profile and revenue year-on-year, this firm is a (White &) Case study in international success. ... Read More  

3

Ashurst 52.500

 

Public-private partnership isn’t just a cool tongue twister, it’s also an exciting and fast-growing area of work for lawyers in the US. Enter Ashurst… ... Read More  

4

Latham & Watkins 52.242

 

‘Unassigned’ juniors, free to roam across practice areas? No HQ in a sprawling international network? You can’t pin the mighty Latham down...... Read More  

5

Holwell Shuster & Goldberg 51.800

 

Want to master the art of litigating in a petite environment with lots of opportunity for growth? If the answer’s yes, this New York boutique should be on your list. ... Read More  

6

Goodwin 51.393

 

Looking for a modern firm doing good work with a winning spread of specialist practices? Tech this out…... Read More  

7

Greenberg Glusker 51.333

 

Kermit bemoaned that it’s not easy being green, but LA’s Greenberg Glusker makes it look like a breeze: everything from Tinseltown fallouts to real estate ventures and climate matters are covered here – and from just one compact office.  ... Read More  

8

Paul Hastings 51.194

 

If the pH scale measured law firm performance, then LA-born Paul Hastings would score a perfect 7 for balancing global, high-end work with a gentler and more sustaining BigLaw vibe.... Read More  

9

Proskauer 50.983

 

Fancy tackling thorny legal issues for often-high-profile clients? Better sniff out what this Rose has to offer... ... Read More  

10

Sidley Austin 50.414

 

A global giant with a “family-friendly” culture. This prestigious, Windy City native will blow you away. ... Read More  

11

Schulte Roth 49.750

 

For a “more intimate BigLaw experience,” hit up the New Yorker that knows a wise investment when it sees one.... Read More  

12

Dechert 49.667

 

International work with real-time, practical feedback provided? Philly your boots at Dechert...... Read More  

13

Adam Leitman Bailey 49.667

 

This Manhattan boutique is a one-stop shop for real estate law. ... Read More  

14

Finnegan 49.337

 

Firms hoping to hold a candle to the dedicated focus of Finnegan’s intellectual property expertise must burn extra bright.  ... Read More  

15

Foley Hoag 49.333
  Rather than being a ‘jack of all trades,’ Boston mid-sizer Foley Hoag chooses to master a handful of industry focuses instead. ... Read More  
 

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16

Choate 49.242

 

Boston’s one-office wolfpack doesn't plan on compromising its culture of community anytime soon.... Read More  

17

Willkie Farr 49.239

 

New York corporate law with an active social life? Where there’s a Willkie, there’s a way. ... Read More  

18

Gibson Dunn 48.807

 

When it comes to colossal cases and dynamic disputes, this BigLaw behemoth has been there and Gibson Dunn that.... Read More  

19

Allen & Overy 48.771

 

Allen & Overy. Proper noun: global finance and commercial giant; UK magic circle outfit that’s growing in the US.... Read More  

20

Akin Gump 48.470

 

Move over Forrest, it’s all about Akin Gump in this guide – the megafirm with roots in Texas, its largest base in DC, management in New York, and offices around the world.... Read More  

21

Norton Rose 48.163

 

NRF spent the last five years becoming a high-flying global firm. Those seeking projects, finance or litigation and investigations work should take note.... Read More  

22

Stroock 48.118

 

Stroock², a New York firm exponentially nicer than its competitors.... Read More  

23

Jackson Walker 47.929

 

Career development is put front-and-center at the Texan firm that’s leaving associates Jackson Walking on sunshine.... Read More  

24

Kramer Levin 47.791

 

It may be famous for its litigation, but it’s not Kramer vs Kramer at this friendly New Yorker. ... Read More  

25

Cahill 47.759

 

Every day is Independence Day at this finance-focused land of the free-market.... Read More  

26

Haynes and Boone 47.108

 

A very happy 50th birthday to Haynes and Boone, the Texas-born firm whose reach stretches far beyond the Lone Star State.... Read More  

27

Munger 46.664

 

It was a case of California Calling for juniors at this litigation-leaning outfit where lawyers“aren’t just good at their job but love the craft of law.”... Read More  

28

Cleary 45.758

 

What do you get if you mix international eminence with a pedagogic culture – and add “a few man buns in the office” for good measure? Clearly, it’s Cleary. ... Read More  

29

McDermott 45.741

 

Food and beverages. Healthcare. Private equity. If you don’t think those three things fit together, the folks at McDermott have got news for you.... Read More  

30

Irell 45.563

 

IP whiz Irell & Manella is an “intellectually diverse” place to work in the Golden State.... Read More  
 

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31

Cadwalader 44.970

 

As one of the oldest and finest finance firms in New York, Cadwalader balances Wall Street BigLaw with a culture where “you can be yourself.”... Read More  

32

Cozen 44.785

 

“A modern, nimble firm with an entrepreneurial spirit,” Cozen is on the up-up-up all over the US.... Read More  

33

Jenner & Block 44.499

 

Top-quality litigation meets top-tier pro bono commitment at the most Jenner-ous firm on the Block.... Read More  

34

Seward & Kissel 44.464

 

Knot shore where to go? Well, if shipping finance or funds work appeals, you’d be wise to invest your time at this mid-sizer that sticks to what it’s good at.... Read More  

35

Linklaters 44.326

 

A legal giant from across the pond with nearly 200 years of history to its name; a firm with countless international Links.... Read More  

36

Mintz Levin 44.200

 

Massachusetts-made Mintz maintains momentum in the mid-market while “appreciating people’s lives outside the office.” Mmmm!... Read More  

37

Brown Rudnick 44.160

 

When creditors find themselves in times of trouble, Brown Rudnick comes to me. Speaking words of wisdom, let it be… dealt with by Boston’s bankruptcy bigwigs!... Read More  

38

Hogan Lovells 43.455

 

All you need is Lovells, according to associates at this Anglo-American titan.... Read More  

39

Axinn 43.286

 

Antitrust and IP go hand in hand with high expectations at this smart boutique.  ... Read More  

40

Skadden 43.233

 

The force is strong with this one: no list of the New York legal elite is complete without Skadden. ... Read More  

 

           where to start tile         Should I stay tile (1)       Startup tile 

 

41

Dorsey & Whitney 43.108

 

There’s a reason Minneapolis is sometimes called the Mini Apple. Just ask the juniors at Dorsey & Whitney, the Minneapolis-headquartered firm with offices across the US and the world.... Read More  

42

Venable 43.095

 

Merging with IP firm Fitzpatrick didn’t put a dent in Venable’s famed culture.... Read More  

43

Debevoise 42.879

 

Nice guys don’t have to finish last. Debevoise is proof positive that winning the BigLaw race doesn’t always require sharp elbows.... Read More  

44

Fish & Richardson 42.805

 

Fishing for a top IP firm with an academic culture? This might be the plaice for you. ... Read More  

45

Perkins Coie 42.306

 

Techy, forward-thinking and sticking it to the Man; if any firm embodies Gen-Z spirit, it’s Perkins Coie.... Read More  

46

Gunderson 42.285

 

25-year-old Gunderson has spent its lifespan lighting up the venture capital and emerging companies spaces both at home and abroad.... Read More  

47

Kirkland & Ellis 42.198

 

If you’ve got a nose for money, this record-breaking market leader will smell delicious – but it’s not just dollar that draws associates here.... Read More  

48

Freshfields 42.153

 

You might expect this self-proclaimed ‘oldest global law firm’ to be a tad stale, but juniors tell us it’s fresh as a daisy and pursuing new heights in the USA.... Read More  

49

DLA Piper 42.141

 

DLA Piper’s extensive presence across the States is supported by a sophisticated global network.... Read More  

50

Kasowitz 42.000

 

Anybody looking to “throw themselves in quickly” with these “relentless litigators” needs their (Kaso)wits about them.... Read More  

Associate satisfaction

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Career development survey

Retention survey

Benefits and quality of life survey

The best firms for pro bono

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