Law Firms

This BigLaw firm is tops for culture, most important factor to surveyed law students, new report says

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Culture is the most important factor for Yale Law School students when deciding which law firm offer to accept, according to a new report. (Image from Shutterstock)

Culture is the most important factor for Yale Law School students when deciding which law firm offer to accept, according to a new report by Yale Law Women+.

Eighty-eight percent of surveyed students considered culture extremely or very important when choosing a firm, according to the 2024 Top Firms Report.

That far outpaces the percentage of law students who found extremely or very important: compensation (56%), advancement opportunities (56%), prestige (49%), gender diversity (44%), racial diversity (42%), family life policies (28%) and leave policies (26%).

The top firm for culture is Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, according to the findings by Yale Law Women+, which aims to advance the status of women and traditionally underrepresented gender identities at Yale Law and in the legal profession. The group defines culture as “what makes attorneys enthusiastic about returning to work each day.”

“Positive firm culture makes attorneys feel like welcomed and valued members of the team, without having to conceal aspects of their identity and personal expression,” according to the report.

The 2024 Top Firms Report is based on three surveys. One is a survey of Vault Law 100 firms about their diversity, equity and inclusion practices at their U.S. offices in 2023, which had 32 responses. A second is a survey of Yale Law students with an interest in working in firms or with summer experience working at firms, which had 87 responses. A third is a survey of Yale Law Women+ alumni who have worked at firms, which had 47 responses. The surveys were not restricted by gender.

Rather than create a list of top 10 firms, Yale Law Women+ honored firms in five categories. The winners were based on firm survey responses weighted by preferences expressed by surveyed students.

The top firms in each category are:

  • Culture: Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel. Honorable mentions went to Holland & Knight and K&L Gates.

“Across attorneys of all identities in the early years of their careers at Kramer Levin, attrition is low. Kramer Levin supports diverse attorneys, offering a range of male and female fertility-related benefits, as well as free menstrual products in all its U.S. offices. Kramer Levin also sponsors green cards, unconditional on an attorney’s work tenure or country of origin,” Yale Law Women+ said in the report.

  • Advancement: Jenner & Block. Honorable mentions went to Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman and K&L Gates.

“Jenner & Block’s commitment to advancement is evident from its promotions of diverse talent, including women, gender-nonconforming attorneys and attorneys of color. Jenner & Block’s feedback system is designed to elevate the perspective of junior associates and support their careers, with formal processes to challenge performance reviews, mechanisms for upward feedback, and established procedures for seeking help if associates have a poor working relationship with their managers,” Yale Law Women+ said.

  • Agency and flexibility: Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton. An honorable mention went to Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.

“Sheppard Mullin is an industry leader in its provision of paid and unpaid leave and its accommodation of flexible and remote work options. Sheppard Mullin prioritizes inclusivity through its caregiving leave, offering leave to care for family members with a disability or illness, for birth of a child, and for child adoption and fostering,” Yale Law Women+ said.

  • Compensation: Ropes & Gray. Honorable mentions went to Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.

“Ropes & Gray’s lockstep compensation model provides equitable compensation to its attorneys with a competitive base salary. Pro bono hours are fully billable at Ropes & Gray, and billable caps for mentoring and diversity initiatives are relatively generous,” Yale Law Women+ said.

  • Diversity: Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. Honorable mentions went to Latham & Watkins and Ropes & Gray.

“Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe boasts high percentages of equity partners who are women, gender nonconforming and people of color. These attorneys are supported through Orrick’s wide array of affinity groups. Orrick also tracks the gender and race of the associates each partner works with, helping to ensure opportunities are equitably shared,” Yale Law Women+ said.

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