Best Lawyers’ Purely Peer Review™ methodology first gained an industry reputation as the premier “who’s who” of lawyers, awarding annual honors to lawyers from all corners of the country for their illustrative careers. Eventually, we realized the necessity for something demonstrative of the full range of legal talent that supported and upheld these talented lawyers awarded by Best Lawyers. Firms were being built and broadened by the talent showcased by individual lawyer awards, and thus in 2010 we embarked on awards not only for lawyers but for entire firms: “Best Law Firms.”
"Best Lawyers is simply the best reference source for lawyers throughout the country. I rely on it as my top source for referrals where counsel is needed." – Mark Williams, Partner at Sherman & Howard L.L.C.1
The 13th Edition
Now, 13 editions later in 2023, out of the eligible evaluated firms, 15,825 received rankings. Rankings were awarded in 188 metropolitan areas and 127 practice areas. A total of 9,787 firms received Tier 1 metropolitan rankings. Nationally, 571 firms received Tier 1 awards across 75 practice areas.
This year also marks the 12th year that we have awarded the prestigious “Law Firm of the Year” awards, which include 75 practice area awards. Only one firm receives a single practice area award, and firms are eligible for only two “Law Firm of the Year” awards each year. Law firms receiving the “Law Firm of the Year” designation have an impressive overall performance in our research of a given practice area, representing a significant showing in the 2023 U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” initiative.
"Best Lawyers and ‘Best Law Firms’ do a great job of identifying qualified attorneys and firms and fairly assessing their inclusion in the list." – Kenya Woodruff, Partner at Katten2
"Best Law Firms" Awards and Scoring Process
“Best Law Firms” is an award system for law firms based on qualitative and quantitative data collected through a submission process. Each year, eligible firms are invited to participate in the submissions process through law firm surveys as well as client and professional reference submissions. The data collected from both is combined with overall firm feedback from the individual Best Lawyers ballots to produce a cumulative score. Scores are tallied and grouped into Tier 1, 2 and 3 rankings.
The scoring process takes time and precision, resulting in thorough data for each eligible firm. All three tier rankings represent the highest-level feedback a firm can receive and demonstrate the best in the legal industry across the United States.
"‘Best Law Firms’ is a very helpful publication. It is so crucial for companies to be able to quickly identify experts in this fast-paced environment." – Rosemary Becchi, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP3
Throughout our submission process, we task firms with supplying the names of clients and other professional references with whom they have worked. We then send surveys to these individuals that asks them to provide feedback on six critical areas of professionalism. Within the surveys, clients and references can also leave comments, either anonymously or signed, about the firms who have submitted them, as well as statements about Best Lawyers and “Best Law Firms.” The client and professional reference survey feedback is our most significant component in the scoring process used to determine rankings. They are the most thorough and honest look at a firm and its work through the lens of those who matter most, the clients.
For more on the submission process, check out the article: “Best Law Firms” Submissions: What They Are and Why They Matter
We tally all information received on the surveys to deduce Tier 1, 2 and 3 rankings at both the metropolitan and national levels. Per our “Best Law Firms” methodology page, “data is compared to other firms within the same metropolitan area and at the national level. Because firms are often separated by small or insignificant differences in overall score, we use a tier system rather than ranking law firms sequentially. The first tier in each metropolitan area includes those firms that score within a certain percentage of the highest-scoring firms; the second tier, those firms that score within a certain percentage of the next highest scoring firms, and so on.”
National rankings are based on metropolitan rankings along with how many metropolitan offices a firm has and how much legal activity is occurring within them.
Along with our national and metropolitan rankings, we award a more exclusive batch of firms with 75 “Law Firm of the Year” awards. Our methodology page describes these awards: “Law firms receiving the ‘Law Firm of the Year’ designation have an outstanding overall performance in our research of a given specialty. All of the same factors for determining national rankings also apply to these awards. Client reviews, peer-attorney feedback and the ‘Law Firm Leader Surveys’ help single out the top firm in a given practice. Additionally, a firm can only win in two categories in a particular edition.”
"Practitioners have come to rely on the ‘Best Law Firms’ rankings when making referrals and legal consumers consider them when seeking representation. The rankings are well-thought and credible." – Matthew Orwig, Winston & Strawn LLP4
U.S. News & World Report
To amplify not only the research behind these awards but the reach of their presence, Best Lawyers partnered with U.S. News & World Report. Nationally known for its rankings and analyses of hospitals, colleges, doctors, technology and travel, to name a few, U.S. News & World Report has spent the last three decades positioning itself as the top source for trusted advice and referrals. With the hallmark U.S. News signature and processes, our research team has partnered with them to cultivate a trusted system that allows us to issue firm awards annually.
"I commend the Best Lawyers and the ‘Best Law Firms’ team for their diligent search for the best qualified counsel. It is a trusted resource for clients." - Robert J. Ridge, Esq., Clark Hill PLC5
From Our Research Team
“Best Law Firms” awards entail research and year-long processes that include communication and deliberation. What makes the research team behind these awards especially unique is that they are led chiefly by a two-woman team of researchers. Valerie Smith, the “Best Law Firms” research manager, has had an active part in producing these awards since their inception in 2010. From the beginning, she has conducted the methods and research behind the annual awards.
“As always, I so appreciate their time and dedication throughout the process, which culminates in the release of these prestigious awards,” stated Smith of the efforts put forth by the R&D team at Best Lawyers.
With the help Lydia Burger, “Best Law Firms” research assistant, and the support of the entire Best Lawyers research and development team, the colossal undertaking of data collection and ranking determinations are performed each year.
For the 13th consecutive year, we are proud to offer nationwide rankings of the most talented law firms in the country with the 2023 U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” awards.
To view the award recipients who earned a Tier 1 National or Metropolitan recognition, read our digital “Best Law Firms” publication.