Acritas’ Global Elite Law Firm Brand Index 2015 Reveals Secrets of a Successful Modern Firm

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Truly global footprints, aligned value propositions and strong leadership are driving success for the world’s leading legal brands.

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Firms that are investing in building the most expansive footprints with deep local knowledge, not just a flag in the ground, are winning brand equity in the market.

Over the last six years, the global legal market has seen many changes. The global recession may have kick-started the process, but clients are keeping it moving. As part of its annual global survey of over 2,300 general counsel, Acritas has been tracking how legal buyers select their firms and analyzing the firms winning – and losing – brand equity.

Acritas’ sixth annual Global Elite Law Firm Brand Index sees Baker & McKenzie preserve its lead at the top of the table for another year. “When looking across each of the individual measures that generate the Index; top of mind awareness, favorability and consideration for multi-jurisdictional litigation and deals - Baker & McKenzie ranks first on each metric.” said Lisa Hart Shepherd, CEO of Acritas.

Beyond the top spot, DLA Piper has the second most recognized brand globally and Clifford Chance is the only of the global Magic Circle firms still represented in the top five. Historically all four global Magic Circle firms have been recognized by clients within this top five set.

Norton Rose Fulbright and Hogan Lovells complete the top five ranked firms in the 2015 Index. Common to all top five firms is that each has brand equity in every major region across the world (US, Canada, Latin America, UK, Mainland Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific).

Lisa confirmed: “Firms that are investing in building the most expansive footprints with deep local knowledge, not just a flag in the ground, are winning brand equity in the market. Today’s clients are global and they expect their firms to be moving that way too.”
Reflecting on the findings overall, Lisa explained that: “Clients need to buy smarter – they tell us they are under more and more pressure to do just that – and law firms must respond to those needs and deliver better value.”

“Difficult economic conditions have meant clients have to spend their money more wisely. Increasingly they are developing more sophisticated and ‘savvy’ buyer power, who know to ask for price reductions, who mix and match the firms they use to the type of work they require, who are growing and upskilling their in-house teams. To reap the benefits of this more efficient buyer behavior, firms must be poised to offer a broader spectrum of work at reflective and appropriate prices.”

Strong leadership within law firms is also a key to navigating these market changes: “We have found that firms with a clear strategy and strong, yet diverse leadership to execute that strategy are on track to become the global leaders of the next generation.

“When I say more diverse leadership I mean in every sense, so the geographic spread of representation on a firm’s Board, across the world not just from one or two key markets, and to ensure diversity in gender, ethnicity, age and professional backgrounds too. Interestingly, the firms that are seeing the largest growth have all engaged non-legal business professionals to help the direction and execution of their strategy. It is this type of firm that we see making the most progress in growing their firm’s brand equity.”

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Michelle Nesbitt-Burrell
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