Pre-Brexit, global firms win out over Euro-centric firms in Acritas’ inaugural Brand Index for Mainland Europe.

Acritas’ inaugural Mainland Europe Brand Index, released today, reveals a diverse and growing competitive landscape, with global firms, strong independent local firms and the Big Four all making the ranks.

The law firms with the most impressive brands across this multifaceted and competitive market are the ones making smart, strategic moves and offering a proposition that resonates more clearly with client demands as Europe adjusts to new economic challenges: A protectionist US; an unpredictable Russia; an expansive Far East and an EU adjusting to the loss of the UK and other members varying in their commitment to the project.

Despite the uncertainty – or perhaps because of it – one third (34%) of legal departments across Europe plan to increase their legal spend locally and outside their home country over the next 12 months, creating significant opportunity for law firms and alternatives whose offerings align to client needs.



Baker McKenzie is the firm best positioned to take advantage of rising legal spend in Europe, scoring highest in the Index. The top 20 strongest brands demonstrate that success is built on strong local office presence combined with international capabilities to take advantage of both growing continental and international legal spend. Eight of the top ten are global firms with significant presence in and outside of Europe while six are independent firms focused on dominating the competitive field in their home market and utilizing alliances and networks to service their clients’ international requirements through alliances and networks. 

Acritas’ Mainland Europe Law Firm Brand Index is an independent brand strength audit based on interviews with 448 senior legal buyers in the region and a further 311 senior legal buyers from outside the region with international legal needs in the key jurisdictions France, Germany, Netherlands, Russia, Italy and Spain. Extracted from Acritas’ annual global legal survey, Sharplegal, the Index highlights the market-leading brands, by analyzing brand awareness, favorability, consideration and usage.

Baker McKenzie tops the Index by 29 points, with corporate legal departments particularly drawn to the firm for its top-level and multi-jurisdictional litigation credentials. 

Linklaters takes second place in the region, scoring highest for consideration for top-level M&A of all firms. Freshfields secures third place, propelled by its long-standing brand strength in Germany, followed closely by DLA Piper and Clifford Chance. DLA Piper’s performance is particularly strong in France and Italy – having grown significantly in recent years. Clifford Chance, is the only Magic Circle firm with strength across all of the key jurisdictions included in this new Index: Multi-jurisdictional litigation is its strongest performing work type.

Jo Summers, Acritas Director, comments: “Given such levels of change and uncertainty, it is perhaps unsurprising that our research shows that both domestic and international legal spend by clients based in this region is set to grow. This means international firms that have had the strategic foresight to build a powerful capability in the Mainland Europe have a higher chance of securing that growth opportunity.

“Equally, with the right proposition, Elite Independent firms can catch the wave too: Firms like, Gleiss Lutz and Hengeler Muller in Germany; and Cuatrecasas and Uria Menendez, in Spain; also well positioned for this growth.”

The Index underlines benefits of growing brand equity beyond a single jurisdiction: 12 of the top 20 firms published in this year’s Index have offices on the ground in more than 10 key jurisdictions across Mainland Europe.

Commenting on the results overall, Jo added: “We believe that in a shifting European market, it is the firms who can offer innovation and adaptability coupled with a strong international and local proposition to clients and consistency in client service who will seize competitive advantage and win market share.”


Alternative Legal Service Providers

Acritas has also released a brand Index for the alternative legal service providers in Mainland Europe. Here, the Big Four dominate, driven by market strength in Germany.    

According to Acritas’ latest research, whilst international legal spend is in growth, 26% of Mainland Europe businesses anticipate reducing their overall external legal budget in the next 12 months. Jo said: “Many corporate legal departments have told us they are looking to reduce their need for external counsel by growing their ability to solve issues in-house. They are therefore open to a wide range of offerings which support achieving this.”

It is PwC Legal that claims top spot as the strongest alternative legal service provider across Mainland Europe. Deloitte legal are named as the next strongest brand in the region, with EY Legal and KPMG Law close behind, ranked third and fourth respectively.



Jo added: “Non-traditional legal advisors, in the markets they are allowed to practice in, are gaining credibility and are perceived to offer more innovative, self-sufficient solutions to clients. We have been measuring their brand strength in key markets across the world and will continue to do so to track their progress.”


For more information about Acritas and its Mainland Europe Brand Indexes, please contact:

Michelle Nesbitt-Burrell on +44(0) 808 178 3020 or email

Jo Summers on +44(0) 808 178 3020 or email

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