Acritas’ Asia Pacific Brand Index Reveals Baker McKenzie is the Strongest Law Firm Brand


Acritas’ latest annual Brand Index reveals Baker McKenzie has taken top spot with a 2-point lead over King & Wood Mallesons, being the stand-out choice for multi-jurisdictional work and also performing very strongly for consideration for major M&A work.





The Top 10 Asia Pacific Law Firm Brands

A growing demand for law firms with strong international capabilities edges Baker McKenzie to the number one slot on the Acritas 2017 Asia Pacific Law Firm Brand Index.  Asia Pacific legal buyers spend nearly half their budget on resources outside their home country, and the pace of spending is expected to accelerate with growth in the region.

"Compared to other parts of the world, the Asia Pacific region has the highest potential to increase its legal spending," said David Johnson, account manager and head of Acritas' London office. "The challenge for global firms is to figure out how to compete: lower local rates mean that firms must deliver quality service efficiently, and adjust rates and revenue expectations to align with what the local market can bear."

The 2017 Asia Pacific Index reveals that the number one brand Baker McKenzie and number two brand King & Wood Mallesons are valued for different reasons. Eighty-four percent of legal buyers in this region have international needs, and Baker McKenzie is the top firm considered for work covering three or more jurisdictions. The firm also received high marks for major merger and acquisition work.

"Baker McKenzie has high value, multi-jurisdictional work at its core. That is why we are so delighted to receive this recognition from both clients and potential clients," said Gary Seib, Esq., Asia Pacific Chair, Baker McKenzie. "The world is increasingly complex. Corporates tell us that what they want most out of a legal services provider is the ability to navigate and simplify these complexities. This is our purpose as a law firm, and what will drive us as we continue to grow and innovate alongside our clients."

Last year's top firm, King & Wood Mallesons, slipped to second but remains the most popular legal brand among the region's chief legal buyers. The law firm is also considered for high value work more than any other firm in the Asia Pacific region.

Disputes powerhouse Herbert Smith Freehills had the biggest jump in its total points score, landing in third on this year's Index. Kim & Chang's strength in the South Korean market helped the firm maintain its fourth place ranking. Ashurst held onto the fifth spot for the second year in a row, but shares it this year with Dentons which had the second biggest increase in points this year.

The remaining five spots in the top 10 went to Jun He, Minter Ellison, DLA Piper, and tied for tenth position are two new top 10 entrants: Allens and Allen & Overy.


3 Must-Haves: Innovation, Consistency and Clear Strategy

Acritas research shows that this year, more Asia Pacific businesses expect an increase in their overall and international legal spend than other parts of the world. Law firms seeking to capitalize on this may need to shift away from high hourly partner rates and use innovative alternative delivery structures in order to be profitable.

Asia Pacific clients also place a premium on consistency, since many of their legal needs span multiple geographic borders. Law firms do best when their team serves the client as one unit, and builds multi-tiered firm-client relationships.

The research also shows that law firms have a variety of pathways to success in the Asia Pacific region. Some firms are winning clients and repeat business with a guarantee of top premium quality, whereas others are proving themselves to be worthy cross-border partners. Local independent firms are gaining credibility and size, and are emerging as strong competitors in an evolving market.  Whatever strategy a firm chooses, the key is to articulate it clearly and stick with it. 

"The Asia Pacific region is incredibly diverse, and accordingly, service expectations differ widely among clients. Law firms that succeed in this part of the world understand and account for these nuances," said Johnson.  "For example, whereas Chinese buyers place a premium on maintaining high levels of professionalism throughout all interactions, those in India prioritize speed and deadlines, and Australian clients want their law firms to invest time in building relationships and rapport."


Index Methodology

Now in its fourth year, the Acritas Asia Pacific Law Firm Brand Index measures the brand strength of law firms across the following metrics: top of mind awareness, favorability, consideration for domestic and multi-jurisdictional top-level deals and litigation, usage for high value work by Asia Pacific clients and inbound usage for such work among international clients. The 2017 Index is based on 491 interviews with senior in-house counsel at organizations in 11 countries, collectively spending US$1.8 billion on legal services annually. Law firms receive points per mention in each of these categories and are assigned a total points score. The firm with the most points sets the Index at 100, and all other scores are calculated off of this. 

To learn more about the ways in which Acritas’ Sharplegal insight can help improve your firm’s brand strategy and sharpen your competitive edge, please call David Johnson on +44 (0)808 178 3020 or email djohnson@acritas.com to book a meeting or webinar.

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