Blakes is the strongest law firm brand for the third consecutive year, according to the Acritas Canada Law Firm Brand Index 2018. Axiom is named as the strongest alternative legal service provider brand in the Acritas’ Canada Alternative Brand Index.
Blake, Cassels & Graydon (Blakes) increased its lead in being the most considered firm for major M&A and continued to rise in consideration for top-level litigation across Canada; two of the six metrics used to compile the Index. In second place, McCarthy Tétrault holds steady while the next group of firms, Stikeman Elliott, Norton Rose Fulbright, BLG and Torys, increase their brand strength and close the gap on the leaders in 2018.
The Index this year included more than 150 firms. Lizzy Duffy, Vice President of Acritas added: “While the firms making up the top ten have been consistent since the Index was first published in 2012, we see a lot of change further down the list which reflects clients’ evolving needs.
“Three major market forces that are shaping the way clients work with law firms are reflected in our research findings. These are globalization, a continued drive for value and a shift to lawyers who bring a business perspective.”
Acritas’ Canadian Law Firm Brand Index 2018 is compiled from analysis of an extract of data from the Sharplegal survey dataset. All data is derived from 250 interviews with Canadian respondents, in $50 million+ revenue organizations, who have senior responsibility for buying legal services. It also includes the views of a further 99 non-Canadian-based senior counsel who were asked which firms they used for their Canada-based legal needs.
This year’s Index reflects how globalization has changed the competitive landscape. In 2012, Canadian firms together held 85% of total brand equity available in the market and global firms just 3%. Now the Canadian firm share has dropped to 69% in this year’s Index while global firm share has increased eight-fold to 25%.
According to Acritas’ client satisfaction benchmarks for the Canadian market, law firms are not changing quickly enough to enhance efficiency and value; now, clients are taking the lead in driving innovation. Lizzy said: “Four in ten departments are innovating and three in ten work with innovative legal service suppliers.
“Clients are moving to hire lawyers who bring a business perspective. In Canada, being practical and pragmatic is the most differentiating quality of exceptional lawyers from the client’s perspective and business understanding is an area that clients think outside counsel need to improve.”
Axiom was identified as strongest alternative legal service provider brand overall and the most favoured. It stands out for the flexibility in its model, a willingness to co-locate with clients and for its effective use of technology.
Acritas’ data reveals alternative legal service providers are achieving half the brand strength of law firms in Canada. As these new entrants gain credibility, their brand positioning is likely to change over time.
The modern law firm needs to think about its position in the next five years Lizzy added: “Competition in the near future will include non-traditional legal advisors or businesses and firms’ strategies needs to start addressing this now.”
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