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by Travis Whitsitt | December 19, 2023


Whether for the sunshine, sand, or maybe even the movie stars, you’ve decided to work in Southern California. With many Vault 100 firms headquartered in Los Angeles, this region is home to some of the country’s most prestigious legal work. This article compares the top five Southern California-headquartered firms from the 2024 Southern California regional prestige rankings. For more Southern California-based options, you can review Vault’s Southern California prestige rankings and the Vault profiles of any firms you’re interested in.

The five top-ranked Southern California-based firms based on Vault’s 2024 regional prestige rankings are Latham & Watkins, Gibson Dunn, O’Melveny & Myers, Munger Tolles, and Quinn Emanuel. Below are a few relevant highlights about each of these firms.

Latham & Watkins

Top-ranked for Southern California prestige and #4 in the 2024 Vault Law 100, Latham & Watkins operates 12 U.S. and 18 international offices, including its Los Angeles headquarters. Latham additionally ranks in a whopping 25 of Vault’s practice area prestige rankings, including ranking as #2 in Antitrust, Environmental Law, Project Finance, and Securities/Capital Markets. Latham does well on the quality of life side too, ranking in 11 of Vault’s Best Law Firms to Work For categories, including #23 overall. The firm is huge, with over 3,000 attorneys, and associates here describe the culture as friendly and relaxed, with a manageable billable hour requirement of 1,900 hours and lots of flexibility on when and where work is done. Partnership here is viable but difficult to obtain, and exit opportunities are very strong.

Gibson Dunn

Gibson Dunn holds the #2 spot in Vault’s Southern California prestige rankings this year, as well as #10 in this year’s Vault Law 100. With ten U.S. and ten international offices (including their Los Angeles headquarters), the firm ranks in an impressive seventeen categories in Vault’s 2024 Practice Area prestige rankings, including the #2 spots in Appellate Litigation and Real Estate. The firm is also a great place to work, ranking in 15 of our Best Law Firms to Work For categories, including #10 Overall—making this the only firm to crack the top 10 in both our prestige and quality of life rankings. The culture is warm but professional, and the billable hour requirement is challenging but reasonable. The partnership track is both clear and realistic, and both non-partner roles and exit opportunities are strong as well.

O’Melveny & Myers

Landing at #3 in Vault’s 2024 Southern California prestige rankings, O’Melveny & Myers is another national powerhouse, claiming the 26th spot in this year’s Vault Law 100. O’Melveny has 10 U.S. and eight international offices, including their Los Angeles headquarters. The firm gets sweeping recognition as a fantastic place to work, ranking in 17 of our Best Law Firms to Work For categories, including #1 spots in Firm Culture and Wellness and #2 Overall. O’Melveny also sits right at the top of our diversity rankings, claiming #1 in Racial and Ethnic Diversity and #2 in all other categories, including Overall. Appropriate to its location, the firm is ranked #2 in our Practice Area rankings for Media, Entertainment & Sports.

Munger, Tolles & Olson

Ranked at #6 in Vault’s 2024 Southern California prestige rankings, and like all the other firms on this list, Munger Tolles is nationally prestigious as well, ranking #45 in this year’s Vault Law 100. It is the #10 firm for Appellate Litigation and #16 for General Corporate Practice. It’s also distinguished as the #1 firm for Integration of Laterals & Clerks in our Best Law Firms to Work For rankings. The firm’s culture is friendly and collaborative, and there is no formal billable hour requirement. Partnership is realistic here, and those who leave tend to exit private practice altogether rather than lateral out.

Quinn Emanuel

Quinn Emanuel, like its peers here, is nationally and regionally prestigious. Coming in at #7 in Vault’s Southern California prestige rankings and #13 in this year’s Vault Law 100, Quinn Emanuel is also the #1 firm for General Corporate Practice, #2 for Products Liability, and #4 for Intellectual Property. The firm has a congenial and supportive culture, but the billable hour requirement is on the high side at 2,100. Promotion to partner is realistic but difficult, and counsel roles and exit opportunities are strong.


We say it often and it bears repeating; no two law firms are really alike. As a jobseeker, you need to do your homework about which firms to target. As for these five Southern California firms, perhaps the best advantage is that each one has significant national prestige in addition to its regional ranking. O’Melveny’s dominance of the quality of life and diversity rankings says a lot about the kind of firm it is. If you want to do the most prestigious corporate work possible, Quinn Emanuel is the place. You can learn more about all of these firms (and many others) through Vault’s law firm profiles and the firms’ websites. Just remember to target what actually matters to you, not whatever you might think should.

Best of luck from all of us at Vault Law on your legal job search!