Tag Archives: Legal Career Trajectory

Navigating the Legal Landscape: A Deep Dive into the Top 20 Law Firms for Summer Associates in 2023

The legal profession, ever-fluid and dynamic, offers both promise and challenges. For young attorneys on the cusp of their careers, understanding the nuances of top law firms can pave the way for a future marked by growth and success.

“In the constantly shifting landscape of law, being well-informed and strategic in your early career choices isn’t just beneficial; it’s imperative,” mentioned Lateral Link Director, Anna Szymczak.

Paul Hastings firmly holds the top position with an enviable average score of 4.996. Their prowess shines distinctly in areas such as “Interesting Work” and “Partner-summer associate interaction,” both recording a perfect 5.000. Equally commendable is their emphasis on an accurate “Firm Self-portrayal,” with an outstanding score of 5.000.

“Selecting the right firm involves more than just considering its reputation. It’s about balancing one’s goals with the firm’s ethos, the quality of mentorship, and the type of work offered,” said Lateral Link Principal, Susan Agopian.

Boasting an international footprint, Clifford Chance has shown remarkable ascent. Their commitment to “Real Work” and “Training and Guidance” is evident, with both categories hitting a perfect 5.000. This combination of global reach and attention to attorney growth underscores their dedication.

“Starting out in the legal field isn’t merely about joining a prestigious name. It’s about finding a place that promotes growth, provides hands-on experience, and cultivates a solid legal foundation,” observed Romina Filippou, Senior Director at Lateral Link.

Duane Morris, not far behind, boasts an overall score of 4.977. Their focus on providing “Real Work” and ensuring robust “Associate-summer associate interaction” is evident, with both sectors securing a 5.000. This indicates an environment where budding attorneys don’t just work but actively engage and form meaningful connections.

In the competitive legal realm, these scores are more than just numbers. They serve as guiding lights for those navigating their career choices. Firms like Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer and Cahill Gordon & Reindel have also demonstrated excellence in “Training and Guidance” and “Communication of Goals and Expectations,” respectively.

“Early career decisions can set the trajectory for an attorney’s future. Aligning with seasoned recruiters who truly understand the legal world can be the difference between a good and a great start,” articulated Kelly Rizo, Senior Director in our Texas office.

As the legal world continues to evolve, so do the opportunities and challenges that come with it. “The choices made today influence the career paths of tomorrow. Rely on insights, mentorship, and the wisdom of those who have tread similar paths to make those choices wisely,” advised Lateral Link Senior Director, Tori Keith. Making informed decisions early on is paramount. At Lateral Link, our seasoned professionals serve as compasses guiding young attorneys towards promising horizons. If you’re eager to navigate the intricacies of the best-suited firms and programs, place your trust in our experienced recruiters. Embark on your journey to excellence with Lateral Link. Let’s embark together.

2023 Summer Associates Survey Rankings – Top 20

2023 Ranking2022 RankingFirm Name
14Paul Hastings
236Clifford Chance
31Duane Morris
426Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer
541Cahill Gordon & Reindel
61Blank Rome
79Proskauer Rose
824Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
925Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton
1074Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton
115O’Melveny & Myers
1212Linklaters
137Allen and Overy
1418Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft
1510Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld
1617Sullivan & Cromwell
178Day Pitney
1865Fenwick & West
1948Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr
2013Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman

Charting Your Course: An In-Depth Resource for Law Students Navigating Multiple Job Offers

Embarking on the journey of a law student entails numerous critical choices, of which, selecting among multiple summer associate or first-year associate propositions stands paramount. At Lateral Link, we appreciate the significance of this decision. Our crew of seasoned legal talent finders, many of whom have trodden the path of summer associates themselves, impart a profound knowledge base and guidance, empowering you to make an enlightened choice.

Assessing Law Firm Offers Beyond the Facade of Rankings

Though rankings may shed some light on a firm’s accomplishments, they can inadvertently offer a skewed perspective. Abby Gordon, co-director of our Northeast associate recruitment division and a past summer associate and associate at Cleary Gottlieb, articulates this concept as, “Choosing a firm transcends mere rankings. While the prestige of your first firm undeniably paves the way for future career opportunities, there is more to it. It equally revolves around identifying the perfect alignment for your ambitions, interests, and ethical values.” Scrutinizing a firm’s work environment, stability, and resonance with your career aspirations is indispensable. For further insights on firm selection, refer to Abby’s counsel in a past ATL piece.

Holistic Evaluation of Influencing Variables

“Approach your opportunities with a comprehensive perspective, taking into account your immediate and long-term personal and professional objectives,” recommends Matt Bennett, a California-based Lateral Link recruiter, USC Gould School of Law graduate, and previous summer associate at Snell & Wilmer. “I consistently encourage candidates to strategize their thinking, to not just fixate on whether they fancy a firm’s current practice, and this mindset can be immensely beneficial to newly minted attorneys fresh from law school. Delve into the firm’s culture, geographical presence, practice domains, mentorship programs, benefits, work-life equilibrium, partnership prospects, hourly obligations, remuneration, and incentives. Consider the professional relationships that you can cultivate in the firm and their potential trajectory. These are critical considerations, especially when you are just initiating your legal career and lack the foresight that experience gifts. Extend your thinking beyond macro-level professional objectives: contemplate how the attributes of a firm might facilitate your short and long-term personal and lifestyle objectives. Endeavor to envision your evolving work and life aspirations as time progresses,” Bennett elaborates. Scrutinize whether the firm champions diversity, nurtures a collegial atmosphere, and offers pro bono opportunities, particularly if these aspects are valuable to you.

Tailored Guidance from Lateral Link Recruiters

Our recruiters understand the intricacies involved in choosing between multiple offers. “Lateral Link’s team consists of past attorneys and law firm recruiters. We can offer personalized advice drawn from our market knowledge, firm-specific intel, and industry connections,” shares Amy Langan, Manager of Professional Development & Law School Relations. To encourage a comprehensive dialogue about your career trajectory, Lateral Link extends a complimentary 15-minute discussion to address law students’ queries and offer direction.

The Impact of Your First Law Firm

Your inaugural law firm can exert a substantial impact on your legal career’s trajectory. To demonstrate this, Gloria Cannon, our Managing Principal, recites her experience from her law school OCI tenure:

“After deliberating offers from numerous Am Law 200 firms, I chose to spend my 2L summer at Milbank’s LA office, where I was exposed to corporate, real estate, litigation, and bankruptcy/financial restructuring practices. After my law school graduation, I joined Milbank’s financial restructuring team due to its esteemed reputation, cordial culture, and the size of the group, which allowed me to swiftly take on significant responsibilities with extensive client interactions.

One of our primary clients was Oaktree Capital Management, a distinguished Los Angeles-based asset management firm, for whom I executed a considerable amount of work. Consequently, during my 5th year, Oaktree’s General Counsel directly invited me to join their in-house legal team. I wouldn’t have encountered this fantastic in-house opportunity had I not been a summer associate at Milbank.”

This anecdote underlines the delicate dynamics involved in deciding between multiple offers – the decision transcends the work type and encapsulates firm culture, training, and long-term career opportunities.

Deciding on Your Legal Career’s Initial Steps

The decision should reflect your career ambitions, personal values, and lifestyle preferences. While mentors, professors, and recruiters can extend guidance, the ultimate decision rests with you. “Refrain from focusing on prestige or peer choices. Prioritize the decision that best aligns with your future goals. Apart from the numerous variables to consider, trust your intuition when assessing firms and the lawyers you have interacted with during interviews or over the summer,” advises Langan, a former recruiter for multiple Am Law 200 firms.

Perceiving the Broader Career Landscape

The path to a triumphant legal career comprises diverse opportunities. Each decision you make contributes to your comprehensive career evolution. While the choice of your first firm is unquestionably critical, it is merely one of the many vital decisions that will sculpt your legal career.

Lateral Link recruiters are dedicated to assisting law students in navigating multiple offer decisions. We are at your side throughout this journey, ensuring your choices align with your career objectives and personal ethics, enabling you to make the most advantageous choice for your future legal profession.

If you wish to connect with one of our recruiters to discuss your offer options, please contact Amy Langan at or via LinkedIn.