V vs AM rankings Forum

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V vs AM rankings

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jan 25, 2022 12:04 pm

Pretty much a noob to biglaw. Why do some use V100 rankings and others use Am rankings?

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DoveBodyWash

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Re: V vs AM rankings

Post by DoveBodyWash » Tue Jan 25, 2022 12:21 pm

AmLaw rankings are useful to distinguish profitability/revenue. Vault is supposed to be about prestige (and by extension, selectivity).

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Re: V vs AM rankings

Post by ExpOriental » Tue Jan 25, 2022 1:03 pm

They are both mostly unhelpful crutches for people that otherwise don't know anything about biglaw firms (i.e. law students), Vault especially. Though some useful info can be gleaned from certain AmLaw stats, like RPL. So if someone is bringing these rankings up in conversation as probative of anything, the choice of which ranking is immaterial, because they probably don't know what they're talking about anyways.

The only ranking that actually matters is Chambers, and it also needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

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Re: V vs AM rankings

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jan 25, 2022 1:22 pm

Vault is based on how other attorneys rank a firm. It has a few glaring flaws (eg mega firms like Kirkland and Latham are more known so rank higher, boutiques paying above market may be in the bottom half), and is susceptible to popularism (eg Millbank shooting up ever since leading the salary raises). But largely it tracks the prestige of the firms, to the extent prestige is a useful metric.

AmLaw is based on total revenue. Since it's not calculated per attorney or per partner, it's even more tilted towards mega firms and even includes non market paying firms that happen to be ginormous.

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Re: V vs AM rankings

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jan 25, 2022 1:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Jan 25, 2022 1:22 pm
Vault is based on how other attorneys rank a firm. It has a few glaring flaws (eg mega firms like Kirkland and Latham are more known so rank higher, boutiques paying above market may be in the bottom half), and is susceptible to popularism (eg Millbank shooting up ever since leading the salary raises). But largely it tracks the prestige of the firms, to the extent prestige is a useful metric.

AmLaw is based on total revenue. Since it's not calculated per attorney or per partner, it's even more tilted towards mega firms and even includes non market paying firms that happen to be ginormous.
What does it mean for Vault to be “susceptible to popularism,” when it is explicitly designed as a beauty contest that is measured by popular vote?

With reference to Milbank in particular, doesn’t the very fact of paying your associates more money make you more prestigious? Raising salaries is a firm’s way of signaling its wealth and the firm’s confidence in its continued success.

Not saying that money/wealth is the ONLY input for prestige (selectivity, depth of history/lineage, maybe lockstep structure come to mind as other inputs) — but surely wealth matters a lot to prestige. It seems like you might disagree with that?

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nixy

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Re: V vs AM rankings

Post by nixy » Tue Jan 25, 2022 2:57 pm

I suspect firms would much rather think that they are prestigious due to their fancy clients, sophisticated work, and the quality of their work, rather than just paying people the most. Kind of like old money and new money.

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nealric

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Re: V vs AM rankings

Post by nealric » Tue Jan 25, 2022 3:12 pm

The Vault survey is kind of funny. They give you an enormous list of about 200 firms and you are supposed to rank how prestigious they are from 1-10. The lazy heuristic that most people tend to use is that firms they know well get ranked high, firms they have heard of but aren't that familiar with get ranked mid, and firms they've never heard of get ranked low.

I've also been interviewed for Chambers. In that case, a partner you've hired (or their firm) lists you as a client contact who can speak to their practice. It's much more in depth, but doesn't have the breadth. Unless I affirmatively bring it up, they wouldn't necessarily know that I thought Firm A was better than Firm B. I get the impression that firm marketing departments can hold a lot of sway by making sure the right partners get the right referrals. But it sort of works, because the more profitable partners tend to get the attention (and hence the higher band rankings), and the more profitable groups/partners usually are in fact the market leaders.

The Amlaw 100 is mostly just a measure of raw size. Megafirms like Baker and DLA get ranked high, elite boutiques get ranked low. But it's not purporting to be ranking quality. Side rankings like "Associate Satisfaction" or "Go-to Firms" are about as useful as law school specialty rankings (which is to say, not at all).

For a law student, I would take any of these with a pretty big grain of salt. The RPL number published by Amlaw gives you a pretty good idea of how profitable the firm is (PPP is much more easily gamed). A highly profitable firm is likely to pay top of market, but also likely to work you hardest. In the unlikely event you make equity partner, high RPL firms will pay the most. Far more important is landing in a place that develops your career- interpersonal relationships are key to that as well as landing in a good practice group for you (and for the firm).

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Re: V vs AM rankings

Post by existentialcrisis » Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:21 pm

I’d really like to know the proportion of associates who receive the vault survey that actually fill it out.

I’ve started it a few times but never finished it because it takes so long and you have to rank so many firms I hadn’t even heard of.

I feel like it probably results in some weird sampling but idk.

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Re: V vs AM rankings

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Jan 25, 2022 1:48 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Jan 25, 2022 1:22 pm
Vault is based on how other attorneys rank a firm. It has a few glaring flaws (eg mega firms like Kirkland and Latham are more known so rank higher, boutiques paying above market may be in the bottom half), and is susceptible to popularism (eg Millbank shooting up ever since leading the salary raises). But largely it tracks the prestige of the firms, to the extent prestige is a useful metric.

AmLaw is based on total revenue. Since it's not calculated per attorney or per partner, it's even more tilted towards mega firms and even includes non market paying firms that happen to be ginormous.
What does it mean for Vault to be “susceptible to popularism,” when it is explicitly designed as a beauty contest that is measured by popular vote?

With reference to Milbank in particular, doesn’t the very fact of paying your associates more money make you more prestigious? Raising salaries is a firm’s way of signaling its wealth and the firm’s confidence in its continued success.

Not saying that money/wealth is the ONLY input for prestige (selectivity, depth of history/lineage, maybe lockstep structure come to mind as other inputs) — but surely wealth matters a lot to prestige. It seems like you might disagree with that?
I don't really disagree with you (except that I think the whole concept of prestige is mostly fake). Was just trying to explain what Vault measures for. It's not just "who other lawyers think is inherently prestigious in the work they do", it's also "which firms I happen to like". Nothing wrong with that at all.

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