Milbank got a pleasant surprise in the Vault.com prestige rankings by moving up 15 spots to crack the Top 25.
The biggest jump in the annual rankings appeared to be driven by its associate compensation moves. Last year, it raised entry level associate salary to $190,000, and hiked associate salaries across the board.
Associates were appreciative, noting that it was a “market leader” and was “more like a thrill-bank.”
“We’re thrilled and it’s wonderful to be recognized,” said Stacey Rappaport, a firm partner and executive committee member. “A lot of good things happened last year, with the move, the rebranding and professional development opportunities.”
Holding on to the No. 1 spot for the fourth year in a row was Cravath Swaine & Moore, which was followed closely by Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz—both venerable Wall Street firms.
Looking at firms from the associate viewpoint adds another element to firm rankings by gross revenues. Survey results last year pushed Latham & Watkins and Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison higher on the prestige scale. Latham moved into the top 5 firms and Paul Weiss into the top 10.
This year, Kirkland & Ellis grabbed the No. 6 spot, up two places from last year when it landed at No. 8.
“Kirkland has been turning heads in recent years, poaching top partners from other elite firms, topping AmLaw 100’s list of firms with the highest gross revenue, and opening multiple new offices over the past five years, including two in Texas and one in Boston,” said Mary Kate Sheridan, Vault’s senior law editor.
Rounding out the top 10 were Davis Polk & Wardell at No. 7, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett at No. 8 and Gibson Dunn & Crutcher at No. 9.
This time, there were no unpleasant surprises like last year when Marc Kasowitz, a former lawyer to President Donald Trump, saw his firm, Kasowitz Benson Torres, drop out of the 100 most prestigious firms. Wiley Rein replaced it.
The rankings are based on a survey of 20,000 associates. They rate firms other than their own on a variety of prestige factors, including landing big deals and scoring court victories. They award points to each firm, and the total determines its ranking.