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Will the US News 'Best Law Firms' List Influence Who You Hire?

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on November 22, 2011 5:49 AM

The new list of "Best Law Firms" by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers has hit the newsstands -- with some new twists that may influence in-house hiring.

This is the just second year that U.S. News has released a "Best Law Firms" list. Last year's rankings faced criticism for being too complicated; some were hoping for a top-to-bottom numerical list instead of a comparison by "tiers."

For 2011-12, the tiers are still there -- but they've tweaked the way they crunch the numbers, and they've added a new accolade.

Instead of just dividing firms into practice areas and separating them into tiers, the new "Best Law Firms" report now names a single "Law Firm of the Year" in each of 75 practice areas. A new formula considers feedback from clients and other attorneys in the same area of law.

In-house legal departments, of course, aren't even considered for the "Best Law Firms" list.

But the rankings may still play a role in deciding whom to hire. A resume that touts experience at a "Law Firm of the Year" could very well give a candidate more gravitas in getting that coveted in-house job.

It could also give a candidate more leverage to negotiate a salary. As we opined last year, in-house legal departments may be hesitant to pay for "second-tier" litigation counsel if they're asking for -- or if you're offering -- a "first-tier" salary.

The revamped list won't make everyone happy, but it offers some fresh insight -- especially about firms you may not have heard of. Hiring managers may find this helpful in choosing the best fit for an in-house team.

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