Some News About the New, Upcoming Best Law Firms Rankings

New details are now available on the methodology for the rankings of Best Law Firms.

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Best Law Firms
Best Law Firms

Here is an update on the highly anticipated U.S. News-Best Lawyers Best Law Firms rankings, which are scheduled to be released in the October 2010 issue of U.S. News and on our website in mid-September.

Some of the highlights of the methodology of the U.S. News-Best Lawyers Best Law Firms: surveys were sent to 52,480 clients of law firms; to 43,900 practicing lawyers in the United States including every American lawyer listed in Best Lawyers; to 2,314 law firm marketing officers; to 2,322 law firm recruiting officers; to 8,597 law firms without marketing- or recruiting-office contacts; and to 2,322 associates at law firms; and 1,775 law firm summer associates.

The response has been very positive: 1,859 firms participated in the marketing-officer and recruiting-officer surveys; 9,514 clients— including every Fortune 100 company and 587 of the Fortune 1000 companies—provided 194,370 firm practice-area evaluations; 6,190 clients provided 11,181 comments about law firm practice areas and individual lawyers; and 8,842 lawyers provided 594,012 firm practice-area evaluations.

The client and lawyer surveys collected mostly reputational ratings on such areas as expertise, cost-effectiveness and responsiveness. Marketing-officer and recruiting-officer surveys provided a wide array of demographic, client and other lawyer profile data about their firms. In addition to information from these surveys, the rankings will incorporate the 3.1 million evaluations of 39,372 individual leading lawyers collected by Best Lawyers in its 2010 annual survey.

How will this information be used to rank firms by practice areas? All of the quantitative and qualitative data were combined into a U.S. News–Best Lawyers overall score for each firm by practice area and by location. Firms with the highest overall scores were included in metropolitan area rankings that covered as many as 81 practice areas in 178 metropolitan areas, 7 statewide rankings, and on nationwide rankings that covered 39 practice areas.

To be eligible for a metropolitan area ranking, a firm had to have at least one lawyer listed in Best Lawyers. This meant that 10,659 firms were included in the overall ranking process. Of those, 8,903 firms, including a large number of one-person firms, received rankings in one or more practice areas in one or more metropolitan areas, or states and some firms were ranked nationally by practice area. Because firms were often separated by small or insignificant differences in the overall score, the Best Law Firms rankings will be published alphabetically within tiers rather than as a numerical ranking.

A more detailed methodology will be available when the rankings are released in September. Watch this blog over the next few months for new details on the upcoming U.S. News-Best Lawyers Best Law Firms rankings.