The American Lawyer’s annual survey measures the satisfaction of third-, fourth-, and fifth-year associates employed by the nation’s top law firms. The Firms’ scores are based on associate responses to 12 questions that assess their job satisfaction, including relations with partners and other associates, the interest and satisfaction level of the work, training and guidance, policy on billable hours, management’s openness about firm strategies and partnership chances, the firm’s attitude toward pro bono work, compensation and benefits, and the respondents’ inclination to stay at their firm for at least two more years.
For a firm to be included in the National Rankings chart, The American Lawyer must receive ten or more completed surveys from a firm's midlevel associates (five or more per city for the city charts). "Midlevels" includes third-, fourth-, and fifth-year associates. An individual firm’s response rate is based on the number of returns out of the surveys distributed. A firm can choose which branch offices take part, so the number of eligible midlevels does not always reflect the size of midlevel classes firmwide.
Scores are based on a 1-to-5 scale, with 1 being the lowest, and 5 the highest. A firm's national score is the average of its responses, which collectively summarize the firm's qualities, including the interest and satisfaction levels of the work, benefits and compensation, relations with partners and other associates, training and guidance, management’s openness about firm strategies and partnership chances, billable hours policy, the firm’s attitude toward pro bono work, and the respondents’ inclination to stay at their firm for at least two more years. All of the survey responses are used to calculate the overall averages.