The rankings are in. Those U. S. News and World Report numeric lists we love, hate and love to hate have now extended their reach to ranking the "Nation's Best Law Firms." In partnership with Best Lawyers, U.S. News is now not only going to enumerate for law students which schools are the "best," but which firms they should thinking about signing onto after graduating. In the top 10% of their class, of course.
As pointed out by the New York Times Deal Book, however, the law firm rankings are not as stark as the pure top 100 law school list. Since the firms are given both practice area rankings and metropolitan rankings, the "winners" are a bit less clear cut. Based on survey responses from thousands of clients; firm managers; partners; associates; marketing officers and recruiting officers; the firms in the practice area rankings are divided into first and second tier rankings. As the Deal Book notes, these rankings, while not as "sexy" as the law school version, could be of assistance to in-house counsel doubtful of paying for second tier litigation counsel at first tier prices.
According to the Financial Post's take on the law firm rankings, it is easy to point up a clear winner, and that would be Sidley Austin, LLP. The Post opines there is one way to figure out who is number one amidst the ranks, tiers and practice area listings (so extensive as to include Railroad Law and Equipment Finance Law), and that is simply to ask, "who got the most number one rankings?" That honor does indeed go to Sidley.
Perhaps as with the school rankings, it is no big surprise to find out that many of the biggest firms are also the baddest firms, in the colloquial, complimentary sense. What can be informative, however, especially to a client shopping for the best deal, is which of the mid-size or smaller firms are ranked up there with the big players? Which firms are doing more with less? Amid the ranks, that would be a real find.