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by Maria Ho, Head of Research & Rankings—Vault | June 18, 2024


Vault just released the 2025 Vault 100, its signature list of the most prestigious law firms,  as well as its 2025 practice area and regional prestige rankings. The rankings are based on a survey of over 20,000 U.S. associates fielded in the first quarter of 2024.

This year, the rankings are characterized by notable moves, including at the very top of some practice area rankings. Some takeaways, notable changes, and trends Vault has identified are:

  • The top five firms in the 2025 Vault 100 rankings remained the same: Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP; Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz; Skadden; Latham & Watkins; and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP. The top four all saw an increase in their average prestige scores (on a 10-point scale) compared to the 2024 scores (S & C saw a tiny decrease but remained in the No. 5 spot). Notably, Cravath—the top firm overall—kicked off a round of salary increases for mid-level and senior associates late last year. Cravath also moved into the leading spot in Vault’s Securities Litigation practice area ranking (previously held by Skadden).
  • Kirkland & Ellis, a firm that now ranks first in the world in total revenue and second (behind Wachtell Lipton) in profits per equity partner, moved up one spot from No. 7 to No. 6 in the Vault 100. Kirkland advised on more M&A deals (by deal value and volume) than any other firm in 2023. Kirkland also took the top spot, for the first time, in Vault’s General Corporate practice area rankings (where it narrowly edged out both Wachtell Lipton and Cravath) and the top spot in Vault’s Banking & Financial Services practice area ranking (by a small margin over Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP and Latham). It also held on to the No. 1 position in Vault’s Bankruptcy/Restructuring, Private Equity, and Products Liability practice area rankings.
  • In another move in the top 10 firms in the Vault 100, Paul, Weiss moved up one spot to No. 8. Paul, Weiss, like Kirkland, has made many notable lateral partner hires in the last couple of years. For the first time, Paul, Weiss took the top spot in Vault’s White Collar & Internal Investigations practice area ranking. This ranking saw a tight race for the top spot between several prominent firms.
  • Milbank, which was the first mover in a round of salary increases for junior associates in late 2023, jumped from No. 17 to No. 13 in the Vault 100. When Milbank led the last round of associate salary increases in 2022, it gained 12 spots and then dropped 6 spots the following year.
  • The firm with the greatest gains overall in the Vault 100 was Houston-based Susman Godfrey, which soared 12 spots from No. 40 to No. 28. Susman Godfrey, a litigation firm that saw both its revenue and profits per equity partner grow by leaps and bounds in 2023, uses a contingency fee model for commercial litigation. Notably, it won a $787.5 million settlement for Dominion Voting Systems in its defamation case against Fox News. Another litigation-focused firm, DC-based Kellogg Hansen, rose from No. 88 to No. 81 in the Vault 100. Faegre Drinker jumped up six spots, landing at No. 93. The firm was formed in 2020 through the merger of Faegre Baker Daniels and Drinker Biddle & Reath.
  • Speaking of mergers, London-based Allen & Overy LLP, which combined with New York-based Shearman & Sterling LLP in May 2024, saw a three-spot gain, moving from No. 50 to No. 47. At the time of Vault’s survey (Q1 2024), the merger had been announced but not yet finalized. When next year’s Vault survey opens in early 2025, the combined firm (A&O Shearman) will have been in existence for almost nine months.
  • The largest overall drop in the Vault 100 belonged to a firm that had risen sharply due to a period of unprecedented demand—Silicon Valley-based firm Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian, LLP,  which serves venture-backed companies and public technology and life sciences firms, as well as venture capitalists. Five years ago, the firm was not ranked among Vault 100 firms. Last year, it stood at No. 74. This year, it fell 11 spots to No. 85. Nevertheless, the firm has recently had strong successes with financings for AI companies. Gunderson was also the first law firm to launch its own proprietary AI tool.
  • When it comes to Vault’s Best Law Firms by Region rankings, rapidly-growing markets are far more likely than large markets to see changes in the top spot. California-based Gibson Dunn picked up the top ranking in Vault’s Mountain States regional rankings, bumping out Perkins Coie LLP. Gibson Dunn also had a strong showing in the Vault practice area prestige rankings, taking the No. 1 spot in Vault’s Real Estate practice area rankings this year for the first time. Another fast-growing market that saw a change at the top was the South Atlantic (a region that includes Virginia and the Carolinas). Atlanta-based King & Spalding LLP (which has an office in Charlotte that focuses on serving local financial institutions) took the top spot in the South Atlantic Regional Rankings from Alston & Bird.
  • Seven large regions account for the vast majority of the lawyers who completed the Vault 2024 Law Firm Associate Survey. The rankings of the top firms in these markets didn’t change. In fact, the first-place firms are often separated from the second-place firms by considerable margins. These seven regional markets are:  New York City (Cravath), Washington, DC (Covington & Burling), Southern California (Latham), Texas (Vinson & Elkins), Northern California (Morrison & Foerster LLP), Chicago (Kirkland), and Boston (Ropes & Gray).

The Vault 100, Practice Area Prestige, and Regional Prestige rankings are all available at Vault will release its Best Law Firms to Work For rankings on June 26, 2024.