The legal industry often links an individual's personal brand to their success, making it difficult to pinpoint a universal "it" factor that makes certain lawyers stand out from the rest. But a new report from the global legal industry research firm Acritas reveals four defining attributes that outstanding lawyers possess, regardless of their status within a law firm.
The 2017 Acritas Stars Report is the result of an 18-month long survey of nearly 4,000 general counsel and other senior leaders at legal departments around the world. Participants were asked during their Sharplegal interview to name any stand-out lawyers with whom they had worked, and to describe the particular characteristics that qualified these individuals to be outstanding.
Expertise: Star lawyers are clients' go-to advisors on legal matters - their knowledge and quality of work are unparalleled.
Commercially-minded: Star lawyers can translate legal advice into practical and pragmatic solutions, they have a complete picture of their client's business and industry and it shows in their approach.
Speed: Star lawyers can turn on a dime, respond to requests quickly and deliver on deadlines.
Integrated: Star lawyers are approachable, and build strong, long-lasting relationships with their clients on the legal team and in the broader business.
“We set out to develop a composite of the world's outstanding lawyers based on what clients value, and the findings from the inaugural Acritas Star Lawyers survey help us do just that," said Lisa Hart Shepherd, CEO of Acritas. “Acritas Stars find solutions, exercise judgement and are decisive - it is the combination of expertise and commerciality that their clients value most.”
Other Key Findings
The Acritas Star lawyers research also revealed:
- Law firm partners are not necessarily the only stars in clients' eyes: 8 percent of Star lawyers are Associates or Of Counsel at their respective firms.
- 18 percent of Star lawyers are female, exactly in line with the proportion of law firm lead partners who are female, and women are much more likely to recognize other women as stars. Compared to their male counterparts, women clients place higher value on well-rounded skill sets, rather than just core legal expertise.
- Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz has 14 percent of its partners as Star Lawyers, the highest of the Am Law 100 firms, which typically have 5 percent of their partners identified as Stars.
- Clients buying technical specialties, such as tax or data protection, place a higher premium on their lawyers having specific expertise.