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by Travis Whitsitt | March 26, 2024

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Clean Tech lawyers advise new and established companies and their investors on issues affecting the renewable energy industry, including project development, energy regulatory counseling, debt and tax equity project finance, joint ventures, and startup counseling. Many clean tech lawyers also practice in other areas of the energy industry, or at least got their starts there. The energy regulatory landscape for companies in this sector has a lot of overlap with that of those in the traditional energy sector, so the knowledge and practice can often be very similar, though the regulations affecting renewable energy companies are still developing. The companies in this space include traditional energy and power companies that are branching out, as well as startups that are focused solely on renewable energy technologies. Clean Tech practices allow lawyers interested in combatting climate change to put that into practice in a commercial manner. As the renewable energy industry is still in its infancy and growing quickly, this is an area which is quickly developing—clean tech lawyers are in demand and have a lot of career options.

The five top-ranked Clean Tech/Renewable Energy firms based on Vault’s 2024 Clean Tech/Renewable Energy prestige rankings are Orrick; Norton Rose; Latham; Vinson & Elkins; and Milbank. Below are a few relevant highlights about each of these firms.

Orrick

Orrick sits at #1 in our Clean Tech/Renewable Energy prestige rankings, and is also #36 in the overall Vault Law 100. They are also the country's #6 overall Best Law Firm to Work For, the #5 firm overall in our Law Firm Diversity Rankings, and host the #27 overall Summer Program. The firm employs over 1,000 attorneys out of 15 U.S. and 13 international offices. Associates describe the culture as comfortable and pleasant. The firm has an average billable hour requirement at 1,950, but offers good flexibility as to when and where work is done. Partnership is realistic and transparent, non-partner senior roles are both available and viable, and exit opportunities are strong.

Norton Rose Fulbright

Landing at #2 in Vault’s 2024 Clean Tech/Renewable Energy prestige rankings, #63 in the overall Vault Law 100, and the #36 overall Best Law Firm to Work For, Norton Rose is flush with accolades. The firm employs over 3,000 attorneys out of 12 U.S. and a whopping 41 international offices. Associates describe the culture as friendly and inclusive, and the billable hour requirement is an achievable 1,900. Partnership is transparent and realistic, and non-partner roles and exit opportunities are both plentiful and strong.

Latham & Watkins

Ranked at #3 in Vault’s 2024 Clean Tech/Renewable Energy prestige rankings, Latham is #4 in the overall Vault Law 100, the #23 overall Best Law Firm to Work For, the host of the #28 overall best Summer Program, and the most prestigious firm in our Regional prestige rankings for Southern California. They employ over 3,000 attorneys out of 12 U.S. and 18 international offices. Associates describe the culture as ambitious but friendly, and the firm has an achievable billable hour requirement of 1,900. Partnership is realistic with a transparent but difficult path; non-partner roles are available, and exit opportunities are strong.

Vinson & Elkins

Vinson & Elkins operates eight U.S. and three international offices, and employs over 500 attorneys. In addition to being the #4 Clean Tech/Renewable Energy firm, V&E is #56 in the overall Vault Law 100, the #44 overall Best Law Firm to Work For, and the #1 firm in our Regional prestige rankings for Texas. Associates here describe the culture as positive and collaborative, with a billable hour requirement of 2,000 and a hybrid work policy asking for three in-office days per week. Partnership here is realistic if difficult, and exit opportunities and non-counsel roles are both strong.

Milbank

Milbank sits at #5 in our Clean Tech/Renewable Energy prestige rankings, and is also #17 in the overall Vault Law 100. Apart from their Clean Tech practice, they are the country's top Project Finance law firm. Milbank employs over 750 attorneys out of three U.S. and nine international offices. Associates describe the culture as familial and warm. The firm has no billable hour requirement, and has a hybrid work policy requiring three in-office days per week. Partnership is transparent, but not realistic for all associates; that said, Milbank offers viable long-term counsel roles and excellent exit opportunities.

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Obviously, there is a huge amount of overlap between the country's best Clean Tech/Renewable Energy firms and the most prestigious firms overall, and unlike some practice areas a lot of these firms also rank amongst our Best Law Firms to Work For. If you have both the pedigree to get offers from these firms and an interest in a somewhat more progressive practice, any one of these five firms should be of significant interest to you.

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

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