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Top 20 Global Law Firms, According to In-House Counsel
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Summary: What are the top global legal brands?

Perception is reality, the old saying goes, which is why one consulting firm regularly studies the branding of all the major law firms. This year, Acritas surveyed thousands of in-house counsel attorneys around the world to gain insight on how they perceive various global law firms. According to the American Lawyer, the criteria included “name recognition, favorability, and the likelihood that the respondent would hire a firm for a cross-border matter.” The top firm, which this year was Baker & McKenzie, sets the Brand Index at 100 points, and it’s all downhill from there.

  
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Acritas has been conducting this brand index since 2010, and Bakery & McKenzie has held on to the top spot since the survey’s inception. Lisa Hart Shepherd, chief executive officer of Acritas, said that one reason Baker & McKenzie dominates their list is that they have been continually focused on international practices.

Skadden, Latham & Watkins and Sidley Austin saw their brands dip on the list. Skadden moved down one to tie at number 12. Highest-grossing law firm Latham & Watkins moved one spot below to 16th place, and Sidley Austin bounced down by three spots, despite winning Acritas’ domestic Law Firm Brand Index earlier this year.

“Because the market is under so much pressure, [companies] have to get the best bang for their buck,” says Hart Shepherd. “Clients are not going to stop using firms like Skadden, but they are going to pick and choose when they are using those firms.”

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Below is a chart that illustrates some of the major firms’ change in rank over time.

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Graphic courtesy of Acritas.

Clifford Chance reclaimed this year’s second spot. Last year, it had placed in third. According to Acritas, Clifford Chance “is the only one of the global Magic Circle to remain in the top five for each of the seven years the Index has been calculated.”

While Allen & Overy and Linklaters missed the top five spots, it was notable that they have risen from last year. Allen & Overy jumped three spots and Linklaters moved up one.

Of this list, the biggest one to watch is Dentons. According to Acritas, “Dentons emerges in 2016 as the strongest challenger brand to the top ten firms. Its rapid expansion has enabled the firm to grow its overall brand equity in the global market and has achieved brand strength today which is stronger than the sum of its legacy brands.”

ACRITAS’ GLOBAL ELITE LAW FIRM BRAND INDEX 2016

1. Baker & McKenzie (Brand index: 100)

2. Clifford Chance (Brand index: 55)

3. DLA Piper (Brand index: 44)

4. Norton Rose Fulbright (Brand index: 43)

5. Hogan Lovells US (Brand index: 41)

6. Allen & Overy (Brand index: 40)

7. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (Brand index: 37)

7. Linklaters (Brand index: 37)

9. Jones Day (Brand index: 36)

10. White & Case (Brand index: 28)

11. Dentons (Brand index: 26)

12. Herbert Smith Freehills (Brand index: 24)

12. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (Brand index: 24)

14. King & Wood Mallesons (Brand index: 22)

15. CMS (Brand index: 21)

16. Eversheds (Brand index: 19)

16. Latham & Watkins (Brand index: 19)

18. Reed Smith (Brand index: 16)

19. K&L Gates (Brand index: 15)

19. Sidley Austin (Brand index: 15)

Source: Acritas

What do you think of the global brand index? Let us know in the comments below. 



 

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