Acritas' US Law Firm Brand Index 2018

Jones Day extends its lead against the rest of the US market for the second consecutive year

Acritas’ seventh annual US Law Firm Brand Index sees Jones Day extend its lead against the market, increasing the gap against the rest of the leading brands to an extent not seen since 2014.

Acritas’ US Law Firm Brand Index 2018 is compiled from analysis of an extract of data from the Sharplegal US survey dataset. All data is derived from 601 interviews with respondents, in $1 billion+ revenue organizations across the US, who have senior responsibility for buying legal services. It also includes the views of a further 176 non-US-based senior counsel who were asked which firms they used for their US-based legal needs.

Jones Day is the strongest law firm brand in the US for the second consecutive year after surpassing five-year leader Skadden last year. While Skadden has strengthened its brand this year, Jones Day has seen a larger gain and increased its lead on the market. 

Lizzy Duffy, VP of Acritas US said: “Jones Day is more favored this year for its practical style of delivery, along with its global coverage and breadth of services – all areas we know align with clients’ evolving needs especially now that half of legal departments are assigning responsibility for optimizing legal operations.”

Competition in the US is intensifying among the largest and strongest brands. Analysis of the rankings this year highlights the increasing strength of top firms. According to client data from Acritas, almost all of top 10 have strengthened overall or on individual metrics and the top 10 firms most considered for top-level bet the company litigation and M&A have strengthened on these measures.

This year Acritas has also been capturing data on alternative legal service brands for the first time, in addition to law firm brands, and its data is providing evidence for the rising threat of alternative brands in the legal space. While still not yet as strong as the law firm brands in some markets they are seen by legal departments as driving innovation in the sector. Lizzy added: “For now law firms still have a richer brand profile – they are seen as authorities in so many more areas of expertise, the current advantage the alternatives have is centered around technology and process efficiency.

“As clients look for ways to drive value in managing their legal work, the threat from alternatives will continue to rise. Our latest research study shows top of mind awareness of Axiom has almost tripled in four years in the US. Law firms must use this threat as an opportunity to adapt to clients’ current needs.”

Outside the top 20 there are 15 firms withing five Index points of the top 20 which look set to contest for US brand leadership in the near future (in alphabetical order): Baker Botts, BakerHostetler, Cravath, Davis Polk, Eversheds Sutherland, Gibson Dunn, Greenberg Traurig, Littler Mendelson, Orrick, Perkins Coie, Reed Smith, Seyfarth Shaw, Simpson Thacher, Vinson & Elkins, White & Case. Lizzy added: “Firms with both a strong US presence and an international network are reaping rewards in terms of brand equity. However, those with market-leading ambitions will need to ensure they develop their proposition to resonate with clients evolving needs to succeed”

Methodology

The Acritas US Law Firm Brand Index 2018 is based on data compiled from Sharplegal in 2017. Sharplegal is a comprehensive study of the global legal market across 55 countries with 2,130 in-house counsel who have senior responsibility for buying legal services in organizations with revenues of $50m and above. 601 interviews were conducted with senior counsel in the US between January and December 2017.

The complete Sharplegal survey includes more than 50 questions about law firm brands, usage and market trends. Five of these questions were used to generate Acritas’ US Law Firm Brand Index:

  • Top of mind awareness
  • Favorability
  • Consideration for top-level litigation
  • Consideration for major M&A
  • Most used overall.

The Index also takes into account the views of a further 176 non-US-based senior counsel who were asked which firms they used for their US-based legal needs.

 

Considerations

The sample is random across the US with a regional and industry spread that is consistent allowing for reliable benchmarking. The non-US sample comes from senior legal buyers who sit outside the US including Canada, Latin America, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific.

The Index is not a reflection of technical competence alone – it is a reflection of which firms are upper-most in clients’ minds, whom they are most attracted to and whom they are most likely to give their work. How it changes over time is a reflection of which firms are doing a better job of making and maintaining a meaningful relevant impression with clients through experience, relationship development and taking an approach to market that really aligns with clients’ goals and needs.

 

For more information about Acritas and its US Law Firm Brand Index, please contact:

Lizzy Duffy on +1 646 480-5738 or email eduffy@acritas.com

Michelle Nesbitt-Burrell on +44(0) 808 178 3020 or email mnesbitt-burrell@acritas.com

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