Chicago's top law firms

The legal market

Chicago skyline with label

Home to the world's first skyscraper, a steel-framed high-rise built in 1885, Chicago is an urban jungle to rival any in the world. As America's third-largest city, Chicago has a predictably expansive legal market, and although big Midwestern industry and finance have dominated the past century, the high volume of tech work today is an unexpected development. “When people think about tech, they usually think Silicon Valley, but Chicago has a vibrant tech market that is not always as well known, with companies like Motorola and Groupon, to name just two," notes Lois Casaleggi, associate dean of careers at University of Chicago Law School. "There are a lot of media companies here, old and new. Part of the appeal is that it does a lot of things well. Locally the business community is so diverse and strong, and that feeds into the legal market." It's a growing industry: in fall 2015 the Quarterly Census of Employment revealed that Chicago's largest county Cook County had notched up a 3.6% rise in employment in professional & technical services. Scientific research & development services grew by 21.1% in the same period, and an additional 6.2% also flocked to the city's computer systems design services sector. The city is also home to big media companies like regional television studios, radio corporations, and major newspaper publishers like Tribune and the now-depleted Sun-Times Media, which once housed Conrad Black's vast international media empire and still owns dozens of local newspapers. 

Thomas Lewis, November 2019

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Satisfaction survey


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Consider firms in Chicago based on who performed best in our 2018 survey. These are all firms whose Chicago office we consider to be an especially significant part of their identity.



Overall satisfaction

  1. Perkins Coie
  2. Latham & Watkins
  3. Skadden
  4. Kirkland & Ellis
  5. Winston & Strawn

Retention

  1. Katten Muchin
  2. Reed Smith
  3. Kirkland & Ellis
  4. Vedder Price
  5. Perkins Coie

Career opportunities

  1. Vedder Price
  2. Katten Muchin
  3. Reed Smith
  4. Kirkland & Ellis
  5. Perkins Coie

Benefits & lifestyle

  1. Vedder Price
  2. Kirkland & Ellis
  3. Winston & Strawn
  4. Reed Smith
  5. Latham & Watkins

Pro Bono

  1. Skadden
  2. Kirkland & Ellis
  3. Perkins Coie
  4. Latham & Watkins
  5. Winston & Strawn

Diversity

  1. Perkins Coie
  2. Latham & Watkins
  3. Reed Smith
  4. Skadden
  5. Vedder Price

 

Size


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The size of a firm's offices in a state is a massive influence on its culture and ability to carry out certain types of work. Below we've highlighted the largest firms in the state. You can also check your chances of getting hired in your city of choice by checking the number of summers a firm takes in each city. 



Illinois largest firms


 2018 summer associate intake by office


Note: This is a not a comprehensive list of all firms taking summer associates in Illinois. Find more hiring info at firms' profiles.


Firm


Chicago

Kirkland & Ellis 66
Winston & Strawn 26
Jones Day 25
Jenner & Block 24
Katten Muchin 16
Mayer Brown 16
Mcdermott Will & Emery 14
Ropes & Gray 12
Foley & Lardner 11
Reed Smith 10
Vedder Price 9
Perkins Coie 8


Note: This is a not a comprehensive list of all firms taking summer associates in Illinois. Find more hiring info at firms' profiles.


Firm 


Chicago

Dykema 4
K&L Gates 3
Morgan Lewis 3
Arnold & Porter 2
Cozen O'Connor 2
Proskauer Rose 2
Skadden 2
Duane Morris 1
Holland & Knight 1
Sheppard Mullin 1
Troutman Sanders 1

 

Expertise


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If you're motivated by doing the best work possible, the industry-recognized 
Chambers USA rankings are invaluable. Here are the best firms in Chicago for the most common practice areas, plus the others that define the Chicago market. Full rankings at chambers.com.


Top ranked banking and finance

  • Goldberg Kohn
  • Jones Day
  • Katten Muchin
  • Latham & Watkins
  • Mayer Brown
  • Sidley Austin
  • Skadden
  • Winston & Strawn
High Rec banking and finance
  • Greenberg Traurig
  • Mcdermott
  • Mcguire Woods
  • Vedder Price
cap markets debt equity top rank
  • Cahill Gordon
  • Cleary Gottlieb
  • Cravath
  • Davis Polk
  • Debevoise 
  • Kirkland & Ellis
  • Latham & Watkins
  • Paul Weiss
  • Shearman & Sterling
  • Sidley Austin
  • Simpson Thacher
  • Skadden
  • Sullivan & Cromwell
cap markets Debt equity high rec
  • Cooley
  • Covington
  • Fried Frank
  • Gibson Dunn
  • Goodwin
  • Proskauer Rose
  • Ropes & Gray
  • Vinson & Elkins
  • Weil Gotshal
  • Wilson Sonsini

Note: The above capital markets rankings show firms ranked nationwide.

corp priv equity top rank
  • Jones Day
  • Katten Muchin
  • Kirkland & Ellis
  • Latham & Watkins
  • Mayer Brown
  • Mcdermott, Will & Emery
  • Paul Hastings
  • Sidley Austin
  • Skadden
  • Winston & Strawn
corp priv equity high rec
  • Baker Mckenzie
  • Dentons
  • DLA Piper
  • Greenberg Traurig
  • Jenner & Block
  • Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg
  • Perkins Coie
  • Reed Smith
  • Ropes & Gray
  • Vedder Price
    Banner & Witcoff
IP top ranked
  • Brinks Gilson
  • DLA Piper
  • Fitch Even
  • Jenner & Block
  • Jones Day
  • Kirkland & Ellis
  • Leydig
  • Marshall Gerstein
  • McAndrews
  • McDermott, Will & Emery
  • NGE
  • Pattishall
  • Sidley Austin
  • Winston & Strawn
IP high rec
  • Barnes & Thornburg
  • Greenberg Traurig
  • Katten Muchin Rosenman
  • Mayer Brown 
  • MBHB
  • RMMS
  • Schiff Hardin




Lit general comm top rank
  • Bartlitt Beck
  • Jenner & Block
  • Jones Day
  • Katten Muchin
  • Kirkland & Ellis
  • Latham & Watkins
  • Mayer Brown
  • McDermott Will & Emery
  • NGE
  • Reed Smith
  • Sidley Austin
  • Skadden
  • Winston & Strawn
Lit general comm high rec
  • Arnold & Porter
  • Baker Mckenzie
  • Barnes & Thornburg
  • Dentons
  • DLA Piper
  • Foley & Lardner
  • Goldberg Khan
  • Goldman Ismail
  • Honigman 
  • McGuire Woods
  • Novack and Macey
  • Shook Hardy & Bacon
  • Thompson Coburn
Real estate top rank
  • Barack Ferrazzano
  • Dentons
  • DLA Piper
  • Dykema
  • Greenberg Traurig
  • Jones Day
  • Katten Muchin
  • Kirkland & Ellis
  • Latham & Watkins
  • Levenfeld Pearlstein
  • Mayer Brown
  • NGE
  • Quarles & Brady
  • Seyfarth Shaw
  • Sidley Austin
Real estate high rec
  • Freeborn & Peters
  • Goldberg Kohn
  • Holland & Knight 
  • Jenner & Block
  • Locke Lord
  • Paul Hastings
  • Polsinelli