Statistical evidence from Acritas reveals law firm brand growth is linked to revenue growth

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Law firms which have grown their brands the fastest over the last four years have seen 45% faster growth in revenue compared to the rest of the field.

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“What all these Rising Star Brands are doing to win out over the competition is better aligning with client demand, behavior and their evolving needs."

Over the past four years, Acritashas conducted more than 2,600 interviews with senior legal buyers across the US to track and analyze law firm brand strength and trends in buyer behavior. Now, comparing this data to published financials reveals not only the ‘Rising Star Brands' – those law firms performing noticeably better than their competitors – but also the positive correlation between brand growth and financial growth.

In the US legal market, which has become even more crowded and fragmented in the last four years, a proven way to grow market share is to stand out.

A strong brand will help ensure that a firm is top of mind, well favored and securely in the consideration set for key work types. It is a significant challenge for any client to keep abreast of every law firm in the US market and Acritas’ research illustrates the scale of that challenge. In 2014 alone, Acritas interviewed 691 US-based general counsel who mentioned a total of 295 different law firms, 29% more than four years ago.

Acritas has analyzed each of these 295 firms' performance across six recognized brand performance metrics over four years to identify which have had the fastest brand growth, relative to their own brand position.

So who are the winners? Who are the Rising Star Brands?

The biggest winner is BakerHostetler, identified as Rising Star in three out of the six categories: awareness, favorability and consideration for top-level litigation. Dentons is also a star performer, one of the fastest growing brands in terms of awareness and favorability. The Rising Star Brands, identified by Acritas using a robust research sample and statistical significance testing, range in size and coverage from the biggest global firm, Dentons, to more regional firms including Foley Hoag, Sheppard Mullin, Nixon Peabody and Katten Munchin.

In terms of law firm usage among US-based clients for high value work, Foley & Lardner and Perkins Coie are the two Rising Star Brands that have seen the fastest growth in the last four years. When looking at foreign clients with inbound legal needs in the US, Clifford Chance and K&L Gates have captured the greatest uplift in this inbound usage from general counsel around the world with needs here in the US.

Testifying to the increasing number of deals in the market which carry an international component, Baker & McKenzie was the only Rising Star Brand for major M&A consideration.

Commenting on the analysis of the US Rising Star Brands, Elizabeth Duffy, Vice President of Acitas US, Inc. said: “No-one can deny that market forces, client trends and law firm consolidation have altered the landscape of the legal market and that it is continuing to evolve.

“Firms can no longer rely solely on their reputation to be memorable; every firm has an obligation to keep reminding the market of their capabilities, presence and relevance if they want to achieve their maximum growth potential.”

Clients continue to confirm the increasing importance of using an appropriate level of resource for each legal matter. Acritas’ year on year data reveals that expertise is no longer the driving factor that clients are looking for in a legal service provider.

Successful brand alignment is the key to revenue growth. Elizabeth added: “What all these Rising Star Brands are doing to win out over the competition is better aligning with client demand, behavior and their evolving needs. They are also investing in raising awareness and building favorability to accelerate their firm’s progression to the top tiers of their chosen niche.”

(*Top 20 US brands refers to those published in Acritas’ US Law Firm Brand Index 2015).

For further information or to arrange an interview with Elizabeth Duffy, please contact:
Michelle Nesbitt-Burrell, mnesbitt-burrell(at)acritas(dot)com on +44 (0)808 178 3020

Methodology note:
Six components of Acritas’ US Law Firm Brand Index are measured annually in its Sharplegal survey: top of mind awareness, favorability, consideration for major M&A, bet the company litigation and overall usage – all measured among US headquartered companies. Also measured are the firms most used by foreign multi-nationals for US legal needs.

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Michelle Nesbitt-Burrell
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Elizabeth Duffy
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