Jones Day retains the top spot in Acritas’ US Law Firm Brand Index 2020

Five new firms in this year’s Top 20 brands

Acritas, now part of Thomson Reuters, announced the 2020 U.S. Law Firm Brand Index. Jones Day takes the number one spot as the strongest law firm brand in the U.S. for the fourth consecutive year and is the only firm to maintain its position from last year. For everyone else, it has been a year of intense competition.

“In a crowded and competitive market, the firms that are improving their brand positioning demonstrate their ability to navigate changing dynamics and shifting client needs to remain top of mind with U.S. legal buyers,” said Jen Dezso, director of U.S. Research and Advisory Service at Thomson Reuters.

Ten brands have improved on their performance from last year, while 11 firms that appeared in last year’s top 20 have dropped in the rankings. “It is not strange to see a lot of change in the index rankings from year to year,” said Dezso. "Each of the firms that improved their position in the top 20 in 2020 have different strengths, but one attribute has increased for all of them: growing their top-of-mind awareness with corporate legal buyers. At its most fundamental level, brand positioning is about being at the forefront of clients’ minds, and the best way to do that is through direct lawyer outreach.”

Kirkland & Ellis takes the number two spot in the index, securing its highest ranking yet and improving in nearly every attribute used to assess U.S. brand strength. Latham & Watkins claims the third position, increasing its score from last year. Both firms have grown their brand scores at an impressive rate, closing the gap on Jones Day’s long-term leading position. Skadden secures the fourth spot, while Sidley makes an impressive jump to fifth, returning to the top five after sitting in the 10th spot last year.

“It’s important to remember brand positioning is almost purely in the hands of the firms themselves,” continued Dezso. “Even firms that see short-term dips one year can climb back onto the leader board.” Three firms — Reed Smith, Cravath and Littler — all return to the index this year after just missing the top 20 in 2019.

Two new entrants in the top 20 rankings are turning the table and showing it is possible to break into the top tier. Greenberg Traurig and Eversheds Sutherland both join the top 20 for the first time after making steady gains in the minds of corporate legal buyers, sitting in 17th and 18th, respectively, in 2020.

“Whether returning to the top 20 after an absence or breaking onto the list for the first time,” added Dezso, “the firms increasing their position are showing they are not only listening to buyers but also ensuring that every interaction they have with buyers helps their firms stand out in an extremely crowded market.”

The Acritas U.S. Law Firm Brand Index 2020 is based on data compiled from the Sharplegal 2019 study of the global legal market of in-house counsel across 55 countries, as well as interviews with U.S.-based senior legal buyers. 



For more information about Acritas and its US Law Firm Brand Index, please contact:

Jen Dezso on +1(646) 759 8399 /


Sarah Thompson on +44(0) 808 178 3020 / 



The Acritas US Law Firm Brand Index 2020 is based on data compiled from Sharplegal 2019. Sharplegal is a comprehensive study of the global legal market across 55 countries with over 2,000 in-house counsel who have senior responsibility for buying legal services in organizations with revenues of $50m and above. 627 interviews were conducted by phone with senior legal buyers in the US between December 2018 and December 2019.

The complete survey includes more than 50 questions about law firm brands, usage and market trends. Five of these questions were used to generate Acritas’ US Law Firm Brand Index:

Top of mind awareness
Consideration for top-level litigation
Consideration for major M&A
Most used overall

The Index also takes into account the views of a further 208 non-US-based senior legal buyers who were asked which firms they used for their US-based legal needs.



The sample is random across the US with a regional and industry spread that is consistent allowing for reliable benchmarking. The non-US sample comes from senior legal buyers who sit outside the US including Canada, Latin America, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific.

The Index is not a reflection of technical competence alone – it is a reflection of which firms are upper-most in clients’ minds, whom they are most attracted to and whom they are most likely to give their work. How it changes over time is a reflection of which firms are doing a better job of making and maintaining a meaningful relevant impression with clients through experience, relationship development and taking an approach to market that really aligns with clients’ goals and needs.

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