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by Nancy Vesta | May 31, 2024


In a litigation practice, lawyers represent clients in a range of disputes, which can be either civil or criminal. Depending on the case, litigators will counsel clients through the pleadings stage, at trial, in alternative dispute resolution, or during internal investigations. Among the tasks that a litigator may perform are researching issues and writing memorandums; doing such discovery work as completing document review, drafting and responding to pleadings, engaging in meet and confers, and taking or defending depositions; preparing for and going to trial; conducting internal investigations; drafting and submitting amicus briefs on behalf of a client or organization, etc. Litigation is a broad career path that offers opportunities to work in a various areas, including—but not limited to—antitrust, appellate, bankruptcy, criminal law, environmental law, general commercial, insurance, housing, human rights, labor and employment, media, patents and intellectual property, product liability and mass torts, securities, white collar, and more. Those within large law firms will often practice general commercial litigation through which they advise companies on their litigation matters. At some law firms, litigators will operate as generalists, taking on a range of matters and not specializing in a specific subspecialty. Many litigators apply to become judicial law clerks to gain insight into the judicial process.

The five top-ranked litigation specialty law firms based on Vault’s 2024 Litigation Specialty prestige rankings were Susman Godfrey, Kellogg Hansen, Bartlit Beck LLP, Keker, Van Nest & Peters LLP, and Selendy Gay PLLC. A few relevant highlights about each of these firms are presented below.

Susman Godfrey

In addition to ranking No. 1 among litigation specialty firms, Susman Godfrey tops the chart at No. 1 in both Vault’s Best Midsize Law Firms in Texas and Best Midsize Law Firms for Transparency rankings. The firm employs fewer than 250 attorneys, who work as a close-knit group in four offices across the United States. Associates describe the firm as social and supportive. Although they have no billable hour requirement to meet, attorneys acknowledge that their workload is heavy, but they appreciate that they have ownership over weighty and rewarding matters. They also say that the flexibility offered through the soft three-day in-person office policy enables them to manage it. Making partner is a realistic possibility through a clear pathway, and leaving to work at another firm or in the government is a viable option.

Kellogg Hansen

With only 150 attorneys in one Washington, DC, office, Kellogg Hansen has been recognized as the No. 7 Most Selective Midsize Law Firm in Vault’s 2004 regional rankings. In addition to being among elite litigation lawyers, the experienced clerks typically hired by the firm can expect high pay, as the firm placed No. 8 in Vault’s 2024 Best Midsize Firm for Compensation rankings. Kellogg Hansen attorneys also enjoy professional and organic interactions in a relatively casual atmosphere. Attorneys typically bill between 2,000 and 3,000 hours, although there is no billable requirement. At this No. 2 litigation firm, attorneys take on tremendous responsibility through highly substantive work and earn outstanding results. Although the process is not transparent, making partner is possible, and the exit opportunities are excellent.

Bartlit Beck LLP

With headquarters in Chicago and another office in Denver, the No. 3 litigation firm, Bartlit Beck, has established a powerful presence in both locations. It ranks No. 2 in Vault’s Best Midsize Firms in Chicago and No. 22 in Vault’s Best Law Firms in the Mountain States rankings. Named a Top 150 Under 150 firm by Vault, Bartlit and Beck is home to a total of 80 attorneys who litigate matters on small teams for a variety of clients, including large companies such as Amazon and Walgreens. Unafraid of going to trial, Bartlit Beck attorneys handle matters ranging from sensitive corporate issues to class actions.

Keker Van Nest & Peters

Vault’s No. 4 litigation specialty firm, Keker Van Nest & Peters, is also ranked No. 4 in Vault’s Best Intellectual Property/IP practice area rankings. This San Francisco firm is home to approximately 100 attorneys who work in its Antitrust, Appellate, Consumer & Class Action, Contract & Commercial, IP, Professional Liability, Securities, and White Collar Criminal practices. The firm is particularly proud of its commitment to creating a diverse workforce and boasts about its summer program. It serves technology companies and clients with international interests.

Selendy Gay PLLC

With fewer than 50 attorneys, Selendy Gay is not only among the top five litigation firms but is also on the Vault 150 Under 150 list and ranks No. 3 in Vault’s Best Midsize Law Firms in New York rankings. A relative newcomer, Selendy Gay was established in 2018 by highly experienced litigators, including previous senior prosecutors and government officials. The firm’s attorneys leverage their extensive expertise in its Antitrust, Arbitration, Bankruptcy & Insolvency, Class Action, Complex Commercial Dispute, Consumer and Healthcare Product, and Corporate Governance & Shareholder practices to advance the interests of its prominent clients. In addition, with more than 50% of the equity partnership composed of women and 20% of attorneys identifying as LGBTQ, the Selendy Gay workforce is truly diverse.


These top five Vault litigation specialty firms offer unique opportunities for attorneys to practice in different areas of the United States. Notably, these exceptional firms score high in multiple Vault 2024 rankings, setting the standard for prestige. Although the size of these firms suggests that few attorneys are onboarded annually, we suggest that you review their Vault Law profiles, as well as the profiles of the other firms in Vault’s Top Firms for Litigation practice area rankings, to get a glimpse into life for lawyers working at top-notch firms. In addition to firm background, practice, and program information, Vault profiles are based on attorney quality-of-life ratings, as reported anonymously on Vault’s Annual Associate Survey, providing insight into the culture and character of ranked firms.

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