Acritas’ Global Elite Law Firm Brand Index 2016 reveals Baker & McKenzie extending its lead

Results show importance of authentic global presence, combining local and international capabilities to respond to clients’ increasingly multi-jurisdictional legal issues


Baker & McKenzie has led the Global Elite Brand Index for the last seven years. Its global reach has been a key brand lever in distinguishing the firm against others, attracting clients and delivering an 8% revenue rise in its latest results. Recent years have seen other firms close in on the leader but while the same group of firms fill the top ten in 2016 as last year, Baker & McKenzie has extended its lead over every single one, with the exception of Allen & Overy.


Acritas’ seventh annual Global Elite Law Firm Brand Index sees Baker & McKenzie preserve its lead at the top of the table for another year. “Baker & McKenzie’s long term commitment to its global strategy has enabled the firm to flourish while others are still investing to put the cornerstones of a sound global strategy in place” said Lisa Hart Shepherd, CEO of Acritas.

Beyond the top spot, Clifford Chance has reclaimed the number two rank. The firm 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.

DLA Piper, Norton Rose Fulbright and Hogan Lovells once again complete the top five ranked firms in the 2016 Index. These legal brands continue to be the key firms in a small group which cover most corners of the globe.

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.”

Looking beyond the top five, both Allen & Overy and Linklaters have reversed their long run of decline to see their brands rise in 2016. Allen & Overy, in particular, has risen three ranks this year.

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. CMS, Eversheds, Reed Smith and K&L Gates have also risen through the ranks, albeit with relatively modest points rises. Ranks 11-20 have only eleven points between them and rank a huge 74 points behind the leader.




For more information about Acritas and its Global Elite Brand Index, please contact Emma Hussain, on +44(0) 808 178 3020 or email



The Acritas Global Elite Law Firm Brand Index portrays the competitive set of legal brands, indexed from the leader at 100 points.


Acritas’ Global Elite Law Firm Brand Index 2016 is compiled from analysis of an extract of data from the Sharplegal Global Elite 2016 survey dataset. All data is derived from 1101 interviews with respondents, in $1 billion+ revenue organizations across the world, who have senior responsibility for buying legal services.


All interviews were conducted by telephone in local languages across 55 countries between January and August 2016 as part of Acritas’ ongoing Sharplegal survey.

All interviewing was undertaken by Acritas in strict accordance with the rules governing best practice in research. As such, no law firm or other third party had any involvement in selecting sample, analyzing or influencing responses or the Index rankings.

The Acritas Global Elite Law Firm Brand Index is determined through four open-ended questions from the full Sharplegal survey to find out from senior legal buyers:

  •  The first law firms to come to mind (Awareness)
  •  The firms they feel most favorable towards (Favorability)
  •  The firms most considered for multi-jurisdictional deals across three or more countries (Consideration)
  •  The firms most considered for multi-jurisdictional litigation across three or more countries. (Consideration)

The geographic spread of the interviews is determined by three factors: the number of Forbes 2000 companies headquartered, GDP and the average legal spend in each market around the world. 

Incorporating over 50 questions, the full Sharplegal survey is an independent and robust market research study of the current legal market that generates data and insight on law firm brands, usage, market trends, spend, international needs and buyer behavior, available by subscription only. 

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