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Choosing a Texas Law Firm

Published: Nov 20, 2023

 Education       Grad School       Job Search       Law       
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So you’ve decided that you want to practice law in Texas. First, consider which of the Texas markets you’re interested in working in. Then, consider whether you want to work in the Texas office of a national or international firm, or for a firm that is headquartered in Texas. In this article, we compare the top-ranked law firms that are headquartered in Texas. For more Texas-based options, we recommend reviewing Vault’s Texas prestige rankings; for more details on all firms, take a look at the Vault profiles of any firms you’re interested in.

The five top-ranked Texas-based firms based on Vault’s 2024 regional prestige rankings are Vinson & Elkins; Baker Botts; Haynes & Boone; Locke Lord; and Jackson Walker. Below are a few relevant highlights about each of these firms.

Vinson & Elkins

Top-ranked for Texas regional prestige, Vinson & Elkins is headquartered in Houston with additional offices in Austin and Dallas—as well as additional offices in five U.S. and three international locations. As might be expected from a Houston-based firm, V&E is also the top-ranked firm for Vault’s Energy, Oil & Gas law ranking, as well as #4 for Clean Technology & Renewable Energy. The firm is decidedly big, and associates here describe the culture as friendly and laid-back, with a fairly average (for BigLaw) billable hour requirement of 2,000 hours. The firm has a very strong alumni network, and career prospects are strong, with counsel options and exit opportunities available, and partnership described as “difficult to obtain, but possible.”

Baker Botts

Baker Botts sits at #4 in Vault’s Texas prestige rankings this year and has the distinction of being the oldest BigLaw firm in Texas. Like V&E, Baker Botts is headquartered in Houston. The firm ranks in six practice areas in Vault’s 2024 Practice Area prestige rankings, including the #2 spot for Energy, Oil & Gas. The firm is also very committed to the tech sector, with over one-third of its attorneys practicing in that space. The firm has offices in Austin and Dallas—as well as four other U.S. and five international offices—so it’s possible to get a job in any of the three major Texas markets through this firm.

Haynes & Boone

Coming in at #9 in Vault’s 2024 Texas prestige rankings, Haynes & Boone is additionally distinguished by ranking in four of five categories in Vault’s 2024 Diversity Rankings (as well as a number of quality of life and summer program categories). Headquartered in Dallas, Haynes & Boone built its reputation on corporate securities law and has two offices in Dallas as well as offices in Austin, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and The Woodlands—and that’s just the Texas offices. With New York market compensation and a BigLaw average billable hour requirement of 2,000, associates report that the firm offers a reasonable work-life balance. The firm is now functionally full-service; coupled with its Dallas headquarters, Haynes & Boone is a particularly good choice for those without prior ties to Texas.

Locke Lord

Locke Lord is headquartered in Dallas with offices in Austin & Houston, as well as 15 other U.S. and two international offices. Ranked #12 in Vault’s 2024 Texas prestige rankings, Locke Lord is also a full-service firm serving a wide variety of clients across a swath of industries. This firm has a slightly lower billable hour requirement at 1,950 (although 2,050 is required for bonus eligibility) than the others highlighted here, but operates on the same base salary scale. The culture, as with many of the Texas firms, is reported to be pleasant, professional, and relaxed.

Jackson Walker

Jackson Walker has the very interesting distinction of being the largest law firm that still operates exclusively within the state of Texas, with headquarters in Dallas and additional offices in Austin, Fort Worth, Houston, San Angelo, and San Antonio. Coming in at #15 in Vault’s Texas prestige rankings, Jackson Walker has the additional distinction of being Vault’s #4 Overall Best Summer Program and ranking in the top 30 in all five of Vault’s diversity ranking categories, including #21 Best Overall for Diversity. Piling on the accolades, the firm also ranks in a whopping 13 of our Best Law Firms to Work For categories, including #11 Overall. Simply put, this firm is all about Texas and is, by all accounts, an excellent place to work.

Others

Beyond these five firms, other Texas-based, ranked firms to consider include Bracewell and Winstead. If you’re not limiting yourself to firms based in Texas, Vault’s top five firms for Texas Prestige round out with Kirkland, Latham, and Sidley.

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Each of the top-ranked Texas firms brings different advantages to the table. Targeting the Houston headquarters of V&E or Baker Botts are obviously great options if you’re interested in energy law. If DEI is important to you, Haynes & Boone and Jackson Walker are very strong on that front. You can research all of these firms, through our law firm profiles and the firms’ websites, to learn more about each firm. And as a general piece of advice: Think hard about which aspects of law firm life are genuinely important to you, and which things are luxuries. If you know what you’re looking for, you’re far more likely to find it.

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

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