Top law firms for pro bono experience

Associate satisfaction wide

In our 2020 research, we identified the best-performing law firms for pro bono work.

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 pro bono scores are a combination of all topics that can affect the associate's pro bono experience.

Rank Firm Survey score

1

Covington & Burling 22.35

 

The smart money’s on Covington: a magnet for the best and brightest legal minds in DC, nationally and around the world.... Read More  

2

Holwell Shuster & Goldberg 22.01

 

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  

3

Jenner & Block 21.88

 

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

4

Munger 21.75

 

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  

5

Latham & Watkins 21.48

 

‘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  

6

Dechert 21.43

 

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

7

Kramer Levin 21.43

 

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

8

Patterson Bellknap 21.42

 

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  

9

Akin Gump 21.39

 

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  

10

Paul Hastings 21.31

 

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  

11

White & Case 21.30

 

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

12

Gibson Dunn 21.22

 

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

13

Sidley Austin 21.10

 

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

14

Finnegan 21.05

 

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

15

Linklaters 21.01

 

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

  DC: why the capital is a hub for IP lawBecoming a Government Regulatory Lawyer, with Akin Gump

Keeping up with the government maelstrom has been a full time job of late. For businesses to navigate and change the laws and regulations which govern their activities, they are in need of some prodigious legal expertise. Akin Gump is one firm which provides exactly that.

16

Jones Day 20.88

 

Juniors at jumbo Jones Day reap the rewards of working with colleagues across the country. ... Read More  

17

Paul, Weiss 20.66

 

Looking to blend billion-dollar matters with some of the country’s leading pro bono causes? The name’s Weiss. Paul, Weiss. ... Read More  

18

Skadden 20.56

 

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

19

Proskauer 20.54

 

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

20

Cozen 20.38

 

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

21

Irell 20.31

 

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

22

Hogan Lovells 20.20

 

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

23

Dorsey & Whitney 20.09

 

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  

24

Debevoise 20.07

 

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  

25

Stroock 19.91

 

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

26

Morrison & Foerster 19.86

 

Top-tier tech practices, “a long-standing commitment to pro bono,” and a Cali cool culture? It must be MoFo. ... Read More  

27

Fish & Richardson 19.75

 

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

28

Cleary 19.74

 

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

DLA Piper 19.73

 

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

30

Foley Hoag 19.71

 

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

     Pro bono trackerPro bono work has increased since we began our research. We look at the reasons behind this in our Trends in the Recruitment Market.

31

Curtis 19.70

 

The globe’s the limit for this tight-knit New Yorker. ... Read More  

32

Alston & Bird 19.63

 

Flying high in Georgia and soaring to new heights nationally (and internationally), A&B is an ideal nest for baby legal eagles.... Read More  

33

Willkie Farr 19.62

 

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

34

Brown Rudnick 19.55

 

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  

35

McDermott 19.46

 

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  

36

Kirkland & Ellis 19.45

 

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  

37

Freshfields 19.44

 

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  

38

Perkins Coie 19.34

 

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

39

Nelson Mullins 19.33

 

Are you going to (Nelson Mullins Riley &) Scarborough fair? Associates who go to this Southeastern star say “explosive national growth” over the last few years hasn’t eclipsed a “small firm culture.”... Read More  

40

Venable 19.11

 

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

     Cannabis

Cannabis law:
the expert focus

Following its legalization in several states, cannabis is big business: and that means opportunities for lawyers.

41

Kasowitz 19.08

 

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

42

Goodwin 19.00

 

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

43

Mintz Levin 19.00

 

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

44

Cadwalader 18.75

 

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  

45

Milbank 18.72

 

Associates can bank on this New York institution for big money work and bonuses with no billable hours targets.... Read More  

46

Wilson Sonsini 18.66

 

Silicon Valley’s WS is wonderfully strong on the startup and emerging companies front, offering more than an app store’s worth of experience to tech-loving juniors.... Read More  

47

Dykema 18.50

 

Dykema has long been a big player in the Wolverine State, but the mighty Michiganian has clout across the country.... Read More  

48

Davis Polk 18.36

 

A “very calm” culture isn’t what you associate with BigLaw in the Big Apple, but Davis Polk juniors say it’s “a blessing” at this busy New York powerhouse.... Read More  

49

Cahill 18.29

 

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

50

Simpson Thacher 18.20

 

Modest in offices, but not so modest in expertise: the perfectionists at Simpson go toe-to-toe with the best of BigLaw and “devote time to teaching” the junior associates. ... Read More  

Associate satisfaction

The most satisfied associates

Career development survey

Retention survey

Benefits and quality of life survey

The best firms for pro bono

The best firms for diversity