Acritas' US Alternative Legal Brand Index 2018

Thomson Reuters named as the leading US alternative legal brand

Acritas’ inaugural US Alternative Legal Brand Index sees Thomson Reuters lead followed by Axiom Legal Services.  

In a ground-breaking piece of research, legal market experts Acritas have published an Index that shows the power of alternative legal service providers. This new Index has been established to identify the strongest brands within this new and rapidly growing part of the broader US legal industry.

Senior in-house counsel were asked to name organizations that provide legal services, excluding law firms, that first come to mind, along with those they most favored. The Index also shows which service suppliers most demonstrate modern innovative practices.

According to Acritas, the legal industry is fixated on distinguishing work delivered by lawyers and non-lawyers but in reality, clients just want effective solutions to their broad portfolio of work. Acritas created the US Alternative Legal Brand Index to complement its existing US Law Firm Brand Index which has been published annually for the last seven years, thereby responding to the increasing diversity of legal services providers that in-house law departments turn to to help them provide legal support to their organizations in the most effective and cost-efficient way.


The Acritas US Alternative Legal Brand Index portrays the competitive set of alternative legal brands, indexed from the leader at 100 points.


Thomson Reuters emerges as the strongest alternative legal brand in the inaugural Acritas US Alternative Legal Brand Index, as it did in the Global Alternative Legal Brand Index, released in October 2017.  In the US, Thomson Reuters ranked top for all three index measures: awareness, favorability and innovation.

Lizzy Duffy, VP of Acritas US said: “Thomson Reuters’ investment in technology is coming through strongly as the underlying reason why senior in-house counsel are attracted to their offer. Their products and services are enabling legal departments to innovate and drive efficiency in how they organize and conduct their legal work.”

“We are honoured to be named the strongest alternative legal brand in Acritas’ inaugural US Alternative Legal Brand Index”, said Susan Taylor Martin, President, Thomson Reuters Legal. “We are laser-focused on helping law firms and legal departments navigate an increasingly dynamic, global legal landscape. So we are incredibly grateful that our clients recognise our efforts to enable innovative approaches to doing legal work using our technology, content and domain expertise.”

Axiom Legal Services is the second strongest brand overall followed by Lexis Nexis. Axiom has almost tripled its top of mind awareness level since 2013 in the US, underscoring the rising threat of alternatives to law firms. Lizzy added: “Axiom is favored for its high quality, flexibility and pricing model. Recent news of Axiom’s client wins shows it is successful in rising up the value chain.” The data behind LexisNexis’ ranking also highlights clients’ current needs as the firm stands out for its technology which is ‘easy to use’ and offers a ‘flexible solution’.

Closely ranked in 4th and 5th places are Deloitte Legal and PwC Legal. Given the current restrictions on providing legal advice in the US this might seem surprising but further analysis of the data captured by Acritas shows US multinationals turn to the Big Four in other non-US jurisdictions and use them in the US for complementary work such as tax. These ‘alternatives’ are being used by corporate legal departments for an increasing amount of work.  Lizzy added: “Dozens of different brands were mentioned in our study, ranging from technology platforms for research and information to outsourcing models delivering legal work.

“From the clients’ perspective, one thing is clear: efficiency is king but quality won’t be compromised and with an increasing choice of flexible solutions, it doesn’t have to be.”

The findings confirm senior in-house counsel are open to buying legal services from a widening range of providers in their drive to deliver the greatest possible value for their organizations. A growing number of companies are implementing technology enabled solutions to help access know-how and organize work, utilizing flexible and agile resources to fulfil fluctuating work volume and specialized expertise, or instructing professional services advisors who offer a holistic solution. This is the legal industry reality in 2018. The coming years will favor those firms or alternative providers most able to adapt and innovate in this new world.


Acritas’ US Alternative Legal Brand Index 2018 is compiled from analysis of an extract of data from the Sharplegal US survey dataset. All Index data is derived from 276 interviews with respondents, in $1 billion+ revenue organizations across the world, who have senior responsibility for buying legal services.



Acritas’ US Alternative Legal Brand Index 2018 is compiled from analysis of an extract of data from the Sharplegal US survey 2017 dataset. All data is derived from 601 interviews with respondents, in $1 billion+ revenue organizations across the world, who have senior responsibility for buying legal services, 276 of whom told us about the alternative legal service providers they work with.

All interviews were conducted by telephone in local languages across 55 countries between January and December 2017 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 US Alternative Legal Brand Index is determined through three open-ended questions from the full Sharplegal survey to find out from senior legal buyers:

  • The providers of legal services, excluding law firms, that are first to come to mind (Awareness)
  • The providers of legal services, excluding law firms, they feel most favorable towards (Favorability)
  • The service suppliers they are working with that demonstrate modern innovative practices.

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 and alternative brands, usage, market trends, spend, international needs and much more, available by subscription only. 


For more information about Acritas and its US Alternative Legal Brand Index, please contact Michelle Nesbitt-Burrell on +44(0) 808 178 3020 or email or Elizabeth Duffy on +1 646 480 5738 or email

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