Whether because of prior ties or a desire for new roots, you’ve made the decision to work in Boston. In addition to Fenway Park and clam chowder, the city offers some of the most prestigious legal work in the country. This article compares the top five Boston-headquartered firms from the 2024 Boston regional prestige rankings. For more Boston-based options, you can review Vault’s Boston prestige rankings and the Vault profiles of any firms you’re interested in.
The five top-ranked Boston-based firms based on Vault’s 2024 regional prestige rankings are Ropes & Gray, Goodwin, Choate, Hall & Stewart, Mintz, and Foley Hoag. Below are a few relevant highlights about each of these firms.
Ropes & Gray
Top-ranked for Boston prestige and #19 in the 2024 Vault Law 100, Ropes & Gray operates seven U.S. and five international offices, including its Boston headquarters. Ropes additionally ranks in fourteen of Vault’s practice area prestige rankings, including ranking as #3 in Health Care and #7 in Private Equity. The firm also ranks in all five of our diversity rankings categories, coming it at #9 for Overall Diversity. Ropes does well on the quality of life side too, ranking in fourteen of Vault’s Best Law Firms to Work For categories, including #14 overall. The firm is big, with over 1,500 attorneys, and associates here describe the culture as sociable and supportive, with a low (for BigLaw) billable hour requirement of 1,900 hours. Partnership here is viable but difficult to obtain, and non-partner roles and exit opportunities are strong.
Goodwin holds the #3 spot in Vault’s Boston prestige rankings this year and enjoys an extremely strong corporate practice across several areas. With eight U.S. and eight international offices (including their Boston headquarters), the firm ranks in seven categories in Vault’s 2024 Practice Area prestige rankings, including the #5 spot in Emerging Companies & Venture Capital. The culture is friendly and collegial, and the billable hour requirement of 1,950 is on the low-to-average side of market (although most associates are busy enough to make this redundant). The partnership track is both clear and viable, and associates also enjoy the other exit opportunities typical of a firm this prestigious.
Choate, Hall & Stewart
Landing at #7 in Vault’s 2024 Boston prestige rankings, Choate, Hall & Stewart is a regional powerhouse. Despite having a much smaller national footprint (the Boston HQ is their only office), it enjoys a sterling reputation in the Boston legal market. Although the firm’s physical presence is limited, it counts the likes of JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo as clients, so very high-level work is available here. In addition to its Boston prestige, the firm ranks in two of Vault’s Best Law Firms to Work For categories, earning recognition for its informal training and mentoring as well as its integration of laterals and clerks. Associates report that the smaller size of the firm (fewer than 200 attorneys) makes for a tight-knit culture, and they describe their workload as both consistent and busy. This firm has, in the past, fended off mergers and acquisition offers to retain its Boston identity, so take a good look at this firm if that aspect is important to you.
Ranked at #8 in Vault’s 2024 Boston prestige rankings, Mintz has grown from its Boston roots into a national firm, with seven U.S. offices and one international office. There must be something about Boston and healthcare that go together, as Mintz’s most prestigious practice is Health Care—the firm placed as #15 in this year’s Vault rankings. And it may be a nicer place to work than others, considering it ranks in a whopping thirteen of Vault’s 2024 Best Law Firms to Work For categories, including #15 overall. Mintz has a strong focus on and commitment to pro bono, with associates reporting that they feel not only allowed to do such work but are actively celebrated for doing it each year. Partnership is said to be achievable but opaque, so bear that in mind if you plan a career here.
Foley Hoag is different from the other firms on this list in a few ways, including size—while not as small as Choate, Hall & Stewart, the firm has stayed smaller than much of the rest of the Vault Law 100, maintaining five total offices and employing fewer than 500 attorneys. Coming in at #11 in Vault’s Boston prestige rankings, Foley Hoag also ranks very highly in our Summer Associate Program rankings, coming in at #23 overall. The firm also stand out on this list by being the only firm to rank in Vault’s International practice area rankings, holding the #12 spot. If you’re a student, the firm’s summer program is certainly worth a look, and if you want to practice international law in Boston, this firm should be on your shortlist.
We say it often and it bears repeating; law firms really are different from each other. As a jobseeker, it behooves you to do some homework and discover what those differences are and how they play into your career plan. As for these five Boston firms, if you just want the most prestigious OR the overall best to work for, Ropes & Gray is an excellent firm. If you want to work in Boston and you’re interested in international law, you should look at Foley Hoag. If you are looking for something a little smaller with a little more of a Boston-based identity, check out Choate, Hall & Stewart. You can learn more about all of these firms (and many others) through Vault’s law firm profiles and the firms’ websites. And as a general piece of advice: Think hard about which aspects of law firm life are genuinely important to you, and which are luxuries. No one firm is best at everything.
Best of luck from all of us at Vault Law on your legal job search!