Choosing a South Atlantic Law Firm

Published: Dec 20, 2023

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Maybe it’s the food and maybe it’s the culture—either way, you want to work in the South. Even leaving aside Atlanta itself, the region offers plenty of prestigious of legal work in a variety of practice areas. This article compares the top five South Atlantic-headquartered firms (excepting those based in Atlanta, which is ranked separately) from the 2024 South Atlantic regional prestige rankings. For more South Atlantic options, you can review Vault’s South Atlantic prestige rankings and the Vault profiles of any firms you’re interested in.

The five top-ranked South Atlantic-based firms based on Vault’s 2024 regional prestige rankings are McGuireWoods; Moore & Van Allen; Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson; Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough; and Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein. Below are a few relevant highlights about each of these firms.


Second-ranked in the South Atlantic and #73 in the 2024 Vault Law 100, McGuireWoods operates 19 U.S. and two international offices, including its Richmond, VA headquarters.  McGuireWoods additionally ranks #10 in Vault’s Health Care practice area ranking. The firm employs over 1,000 attorneys and associates here describe the culture as collegial and respectful, with a billable hour requirement of 2,050 hours for bonuses (1,950 otherwise). Partnership here is realistic, and counsel roles are available as well. McGuireWoods also has the unique distinction of being the oldest law firm in Virginia, founded in 1834.

Moore & Van Allen

Moore & Van Allen holds the #4 spot in Vault’s South Atlantic prestige rankings this year and is known for particular expertise in banking & financial transactions. With only two offices—the Charlotte, NC headquarters and a second office in Columbia, SC— the firm is the only Charlotte-based firm in the top 100 nationally for profits per partner. The firm also ranks nationally for the number of syndicated loans handled per year.

Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson

Landing at #9 in Vault’s 2024 South Atlantic prestige rankings, Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson is a regional powerhouse. Despite having a much smaller national footprint (they operate only four offices, including their Charlotte HQ), it enjoys a sterling reputation in the North Carolina and broader Southern legal market. The firm is noteworthy for cleaning up in Vault’s Best Midsize Law Firms to Work For rankings, with #1 spots in Career Outlook, Hours, Pro Bono, and Satisfaction, as well as #2 Overall. Associates report that the firm is a place where nice people finish first, and they do not have a billable hour requirement. This is also a firm that hires associates with the expectation that most or all will one day be shareholders.

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough

Ranked at #12 in Vault’s 2024 South Atlantic prestige rankings, Nelson Mullins has grown from its Columbia, SC roots into a very large national firm, with 32 U.S. offices. The firm embodies the definition of full service, with over 100 practice areas. The firm has a strong pro bono emphasis, with a collections credit of 90% of an associate’s billable rate for all pro bono work. One point to be aware of: this firm gives associates a collections goal rather than a billable hour requirement, which has unique challenges as collections are largely outside associate control.

Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein

Parker Poe has eight offices in the U.S., with six in the Carolinas—including its Charlotte headquarters—as well as Atlanta and DC. Coming in at #14 in Vault’s South Atlantic prestige rankings, the firm is is home to fewer than 250 attorneys. The firm provides all manner of legal services to some of the largest companies and local governments in the South Atlantic region. Interestingly, Parker Poe was the first Carolinas-based firm to have a dedicated international practice group.


As a jobseeker, you can only benefit from  really examining the differences between all firms you may be interested in. As for these five South Atlantic firms, if you just want the most prestigious, McGuireWoods is obviously an excellent firm. If you want a really great place to work, Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson’s quality of life rankings speak for themselves. 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!