The Top 10 Corporate Law Firms In Life Sciences

Life Sciences Law Firm Index | Q3 Update

Wilson Sonsini—the No. 1 overall firm on the 2015 Life Sciences Law Firm Index—leads the Corporate category rankings of firms so far in 2016.

The Life Sciences Law Firm Index identifies the most active and relevant law firms for life science companies. Throughout the year, rankings are published, focusing on different practice areas. Wilson Sonsini has been named the best of the top firms in the Corporate category through the second quarter of 2016.

The Index uses criteria that matters most to healthcare innovators. In collaboration with our research partners at Breaking Media, the publishers of leading industry sites MedCity News and Above the Law, Lake Whillans collects data in three practice categories—corporate, intellectual property and regulatory—and incorporate information on the firms’ work with startup companies and thought­leadership efforts.

Our ratings take into account all aspects of corporate and transactional practice, including mergers and acquisitions, IPOs, financing and private equity work.

The full list of the top 10 firms in the Corporate category are as follows:

Firm Score (Perfect score = 20)
1. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati 18.0
2.  Fenwick & West 17.6
3. Goodwin Procter 17.5
4. Latham & Watkins 17.2
5. Morgan Lewis 16.5
6. Cooley 16.3
7. Covington & Burling 15.9
8. Morrison & Foerster 15.4
9. Arnold & Porter 15.2
10.  Jones Day 15.0


Wilson Sonsini’s recent work includes:

  • Representation of FEI Company, a leader in high­-performance electron microscopy, in its approximately $4.2 billion acquisition by Thermo Fisher Scientific (announced May 2016)
  • Advising NantHealth, a next­-generation personalized healthcare company, in its approximately $91 million initial public offering on the Nasdaq Global Select Market (announced June 2016)
  • Represented China Biologic Products, Inc., a leading plasma­ based biopharmaceutical company in China, on its follow­-on public offering with an aggregate offer size of more than $308 million (completed June 2016)

A Note on Methodology

Our rankings methodology is designed to reflect a holistic view of the role of a law firm throughout the life cycle of a life sciences company: from inception through clinical trials.

In each category of practice, we identified the relevant, quantifiable factors. For example, under the Corporate category, our review included — but was not confined to — public and private financings, IPOs and M&A activity. For the Patent category, we included factors such as number of patents issued, “allowance rate,” and successful patent defenses. Among the items in the Regulatory category are clinical trials, commercialization and approvals. The Thought Leadership ratings incorporated, among other things, the publication of white papers, contributions to third-party media, blogging and social media, as well as speaking or teaching engagements.

Within each category, firms were organized into tiers based on the complexity, value, variety and reach of their practice and scores were apportioned accordingly. Our rankings formula is as follows:

  • Corporate: 40%
  • Patent: 20%
  • Regulatory: 20%
  • Start-up work: 10%
  • Thought leadership: 10%

To complement our comprehensive review of all publicly available information, we invited firms to complete a questionnaire detailing their life science practices.

Lake Whillans is a commercial litigation finance firm located in New York City.

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