The results from Acritas’ US Law Firm Brand Index, released February 26, show that the dominance of the US elite law firms is under threat from a rising group of ambitious firms with international capabilities and a dedicated focus on client needs.
Legal services buyers in the largest companies in the US and across the world are no longer willing to consistently pay top tier rates for outside counsel. Where work can be done by firms offering similarly credible expertise to the elite firms but at a lower cost, clients, under pressure to control expenditure, are favoring the value-for-money option.
Despite this growing trend, Skadden manages to retain its lead in the US Index as the brand with the highest levels of top of mind awareness, usage for high value work as well as favorability and consideration for top-level mergers and acquisitions.
However, favorability towards Skadden and other elite firms has in fact declined year on year since 2010. This downward trend, coupled with the changes taking place among the firms beneath the top rank, offer greatest insight into the future distribution of US law firm brand strength.
In response to clients’ changing behavior, many law firms in the ‘chasing pack’ have been raising their game by focusing on client service, expanding their practice areas and improving their industry knowledge and geographic reach.
The survey results consistently show that influential buyers of global legal services are favoring firms which have a strong global footprint and are therefore ideally placed to help them meet their increasingly international needs – both Baker & McKenzie and DLA Piper have improved their Index ranking this year on this basis.
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