thesealocust wrote:These rankings are all dumb and pointless.
Agreed. Most rankings above save for itbvdorm's have boiled down to "well I always thought it was [X vault-based ranking, Y vault-based ranking]." itbvdorm's is probably the closest to the correct response since all of these firms are particularly well respected in these practice areas.
That said, I resisted the urge to provide my own set of rankings based on perceived prestige and instead quickly threw together a trio of tables that rank the V15 firms with a substantial NYC/corporate presence based on their Chambers nationwide rankings*. There are 12 firms that generally fall into that category: Wachtell, Cravath, S&C, Skadden, DPW, Weil, STB, Cleary, Kirkland, Latham, Debevoise, and Paul Weiss.
These tables are hardly a definitive set of rankings, but they are hopefully a little more concrete than the "I thought X firm is the best . . ." approach that these threads tend to evoke. Chambers practice group rankings are generally recognized as a better metric for evaluating the strengths of particular practice groups than Vault's prestige-based rankings, yet Chambers rankings have typically been considered only in isolation without considering what the full set of rankings say about particular firms. These tables are an imperfect stab at (1) putting these puzzle pieces together to paint a larger picture for each of these firms through the "Average Band" rankings (lower is better) and (2) putting firms' practice group rankings side-by-side so it's easier to consider firms' relative strengths and weaknesses in relation to their peers. Of course, it should be stated again that the difference between "Band 1" and "Band 2" or "Band 3" is very small and generally has minimal impact (if any) on the day-to-day opportunities of your average associate at any of these firms.Table #1:
This table includes all of Chambers' nationwide rankings in which at least two-thirds (8+ of 12) of the firms are ranked. The goal was to include practice areas that are widely participated in by NYC-based firms without arbitrarily including smaller, niche practices that might work in favor of or against certain firms. Firms that do not have a particular practice area are not impacted positively or negatively, and the total number of ranked areas is also noted as a very rough indicator of the breadth of each firm's practices. Not surprisingly, a firm like Wachtell has a more narrow range of practice area rankings than, for example, Skadden.Table #2:
This table includes only transactional-based practice groups from the larger subset included in Table #1. Bankruptcy may be something of an outlier given its hybrid corporate/litigation nature, but it includes enough transactional work that it seemed reasonable to include it here.Table #3:
This table includes only what others in this thread have termed the "bread-and-butter" corporate practice groups: M&A, Capital Markets, and Banking & Finance.
As stated above, these rankings do not paint a full picture and inevitably fail to account for nuances between the firms, particularly small practice-area specialities. My hope is that they will nonetheless provide a high-level overview of the strengths of firms that benefits from the quality of Chambers' individual rankings without succumbing to the circularity of the Vault rankings.
*These numbers are from Chambers USA 2013. For more information on Chambers' rankings, see: http://www.chambersandpartners.com