Acritas UK Law Firm Brand Index 2017


Acritas’ UK Law Firm Brand Index 2017: Eversheds Sutherland dominates the national picture while Clifford Chance rules the  City

Results show UK market mirrors global legal market trends

Newly merged Eversheds Sutherland has topped the 2017 UK Law Firm Brand Index, just as the firm’s ancestor brand Eversheds did in both 2016 and 2015.  The firm’s sustained dominance of the Index, with a ten-point lead in 2017, is underpinned by a well-balanced brand positioning and consistent brand experience; the results show that the Eversheds Sutherland merger has been effectively executed and well communicated to the market. 

Pinsent Masons, which has alternated between second and third place in the Index over the last five years, has risen eight points and one rank since 2016 to take second place this year. 

Acritas CEO, Lisa Hart Shepherd, explains, “Key to both firm’s lead is their national coverage, gaining brand equity in regions where the City-based firms don’t have much coverage and being able to offer a fuller service from those lower cost regional offices when many of the City firms are just starting to get low cost operations off the ground.”

“Eversheds Sutherland has received extra attention since the announcement of its US merger, now offering a sizable presence in the largest and most important legal market in the world,” Hart Shepherd adds.

Beyond the number two spot a considerable 25-point gap exists, with the chasing pack being led by DLA Piper in third rank overall and three Magic Circle firms – Slaughter & May, Linklaters and Clifford Chance - taking places 4, 5 and 6.

Ranks 7-9 are tied between Allen & Overy, Baker McKenzie and Herbert Smiths and the top 10 is rounded off by Clyde & Co.

Within London, the Magic Circle and Herbert Smith Freehills still dominate the top ranks, with Clifford Chance taking the lead.

Analysis of the Index over time has shown that trends in the UK market mirror those observed globally. Against a backdrop of increased international competition and price pressure, the positions of premium priced brands have been eroded over time; the UK’s Magic Circle firms have lost between 24 and a huge 62 points over the six years the Index has been calculated. 

The evolution of the original “nationals” and larger City firms – now increasingly globalised to meet the developing needs of their large client bases – has successfully strengthened and secured their positions at the top of the table, illustrating that brand can either be bought or built but key to either approach is effective execution and strong leadership.

For more information about Acritas and its UK Brand Index, please contact Jo Summers, on +44(0) 808 178 3020 or email


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



Acritas’ UK Law Firm Brand Index 2017 is compiled from analysis of data extracted from the Sharplegal 2016 survey database Data is derived from 309 interviews with respondents, in £25m+ revenue organisations across the UK and 179 interviews with global buyers who have needs in the UK, who have senior responsibility for buying legal services.


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

The Acritas UK Law Firm Brand Index is determined through six 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 favourable towards (Favourability)
  • The firms most considered for top level litigation
  • The firms most considered for top level M&A
  • The firms most used for high value work
  • The firms most used by overseas buyers for UK high value work

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 behaviour, available by subscription only.


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