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Choosing a Mid-Atlantic Law Firm

Published: Feb 06, 2024

 Education       Grad School       Job Search       Law       
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New York isn't the only big legal market north of DC along the Atlantic Coast. Covering cities such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Wilmington, among others, our Mid-Atlantic rankings cover a huge range of cities, firms, and practices. This article compares the top five Mid-Atlantic-headquartered firms from the 2024 Mid-Atlantic regional prestige rankings. For more Mid-Atlantic options, you can review Vault’s Mid-Atlantic prestige rankings and the Vault profiles of any firms you’re interested in.

The five top-ranked Mid-Atlantic-based firms based on Vault’s 2024 regional prestige rankings are Morgan Lewis; Dechert; Reed Smith; K&L Gates; and Ballard Spahr. Below are a few relevant highlights about each of these firms.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius

The #2 firm in the Mid-Atlantic and #33 in the 2024 Vault Law 100, Morgan Lewis operates 18 U.S. and 13 international offices, including its Philadelphia headquarters. Morgan Lewis is at or near the top of many of our Best Law Firms to Work For rankings, including claiming the top spot in our Pro Bono rankings as well as the #3 spot overall. They also have a prestigious Labor & Employment practice; #4 in the country, according to our Practice Area rankings. Continuing this trend of rankings dominance, they *also* have the #3 overall spot in our Diversity rankings and are #5 overall in our Summer Program rankings. The firm employs over 2,000 attorneys and associates here describe the culture as casual and unpretentious, with a billable hour requirement of 2,000. Partnership here is transparent and realistic, and senior non-partner roles and exit opportunities are strong as well.

Dechert

Dechert holds the #3 spot in Vault’s Mid-Atlantic prestige rankings this year and also sits at #47 in the overall Vault Law 100. Dechert operates out of 10 U.S. and 11 international offices, employing over 500 attorneys. It also does very well in our Best Law Firms to Work For rankings (#9 overall) and our Summer Program rankings (#13 overall). Associates call the culture welcoming and kind. The firm has a billable hour requirement of 1,950 and a realistic, transparent path to partnership. Non-partner roles and other exit opportunities are strong as well.

Reed Smith

Landing at #5 in Vault’s 2024 Mid-Atlantic prestige rankings and clocking in at #60 in the Vault Law 100, Reed Smith has grown from a Pittsburgh institution to a full-service international powerhouse. They have over 1,500 lawyers operating from 18 U.S. and 13 international offices. They have prestigious Health Care and Products Liability practices, ranking at #13 and #18 respectively. The firm's culture is described as collaborative and welcoming, with a billable hour requirement of 2,000. Promotion to partner is realistic here, and other opportunities (both exit and non-partner) are strong as well.

K&L Gates

Ranked at #6 in Vault’s 2024 Mid-Atlantic prestige rankings and at #49 in the Vault Law 100, K&L Gates employs over 1,500 attorneys operating out of 25 U.S. and 23 international offices, including its Pittsburgh headquarters. The culture here is reportedly collegial and kind, with a below-average billable hour requirement of 1,850. Exit opportunities are strong, but the firm has a reputation for above-average investment in making sure the associates it hires make partner there.

Ballard Spahr

Ballard Spahr sits at #7 in our Mid-Atlantic prestige rankings and at #93 in the Vault Law 100, and also ranks #7 in our Pro Bono category in Best Law Firms to Work For. The firm has our 13th-ranked Media, Entertainment, & Sports practice, is #18 overall for diversity, and has the #30 Summer Associate program overall. Ballard Spahr has over 500 attorneys in 15 U.S. offices. Associates describe the culture as collaborative and welcoming. The billable hour requirement is average at 1,900, and the firm offers strong counsel roles and exit opportunities as well as a clear path to partner for those willing to put in the work.

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There's a lot of legal prestige to be found in the Mid-Atlantic region, with all five of the top firms based there making the overall Vault Law 100 as well. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh both have very strong markets for just about any practice area, and what's remarkable is how well these firms also rank in our Best to Work For and Diversity categories on top of their prestige. You can learn more about all these firms (and many others) through Vault’s law firm profiles and the firms’ websites. Remember: Think hard about your priorities, because no one firm is best at everything.

Best of luck from all of us at Vault Law on your legal job search!

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