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An Analysis of Chambers USA Rankings for Am Law 200 Firms

We have just completed our second analysis of Chambers rankings using the 2014 rankings, and this process made us realize just how truly rampant law firm mergers are – more on that later. We used our previous methodology in order to compare (as best we could) apples to apples. We also still stand by the previous reasons we provided for why the results shouldn’t be taken for face value.

Click here to download a chart showing, by Am Law 200 rank, each firm’s percentage of U.S. attorneys ranked in Chambers USA 2012 and 2014. Our research also includes the actual number of attorneys ranked.

Here are our observations based on a comparison of 2012 to 2014 survey results, but we welcome your observations and opinions in the comments section.

When big firms get bigger, their rankings percentage drops, at least initially.

  • Firms that had significant growth spurts, such as Baker & McKenzie (+900 U.S. attorneys) and DLA Piper (+1000 U.S. attorney), generally saw their percentages fall (down 3.8 percentage points and 4.2 percentage points, respectively), while the number of ranked attorneys increased slightly.

For the rest of the Am Law 100, things look pretty rosy.

  • Among Am Law 100 firms, most maintained their rankings or increased by a percentage or two. Some saw increases of up to 3.5%. Firms that saw increases of over 3% include White & Case (3%), Kaye Scholer (3.1%), Mayer Brown (3.1%), BakerHostetler (3.5%), and Winston & Strawn (3.5%).

Am Law 200 firms generally faired well also; soon, we won’t be able to lift the Chambers book.

  • Among Am Law 200 firms, we noticed more drops in rankings’ percentages than within the Am Law 100, however, the majority of firms grew their rankings by a percent or two.
  • Overachievers in the Am Law 200 include Williams Mullen (up 3.3 percentage points), Herrick Feinstein (up 3.4 percentage points) and Day Pitney (up 3.6 percentage points). Stinson Morrison’s rankings jumped up by 6.8 percentage points, but that’s likely influenced by their January 2014 merger with Leonard Street.

There are several firms that appear to hit the ball out of the park when it comes to Chambers.

  • The firms with the highest percentage of ranked attorneys are Goulston & Storrs with 20% of the firm’s attorneys ranked (located in competitive markets like NY and DC!) and Stoel Rives with 25.8% (with a location in the greater Northwest which may have less Chambers competition).

Here’s some advice from Aileen, our Chambers expert:

  • Chambers is a process, and at least to some extent, your firm’s rankings are a reflection of your process. Is it frantic and treated as an annual interruption to your regular work, or is it a well-oiled machine designed to work better year after year?
  •  When rankings are published, are you left scratching your head, wondering what Chambers was thinking when they decided who to rank? If so, brush up on how to put together a submission that is persuasive to researchers and shines the spotlight on your star performers. Advice here and here.
  • If your attorneys aren’t invested in responding in a timely and thorough manner at Chambers time and it’s reflected in your rankings – you might want to share this research with them.