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 firms’ 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.


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