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Acritas’ UK and London Law Firms Brand Indexes 2014

The UK’s legal market is back in growth and fuelling the rise of a set of strongly differentiated firms whose clear offerings and identities are helping them to succeed in a highly competitive market.

First of these is Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer which has maintained its supremacy in the capital for the second year running as well as regaining its top ranking in the UK overall. 

Freshfields has secured its lead position by achieving the highest scores among general counsel for top of mind awareness and firm most used for high value work. It was also the second strongest performer amongst firms most considered for major M&A. 

This result is testament to the firm’s reputation in the financial sector and for offering high quality client service and advice. It also reflects the growing confidence in the UK economy which has led to a steady rise in deal volumes throughout 2013. 

Another notable winner in this year’s Index is Herbert Smith Freehills rising four places to joint fourth position in the UK Index and two places to second in the London rankings. 

This stellar performance is primarily driven by the firm’s strength in top-level litigation work where it received over twice as many mentions as its nearest competitor. It has also benefited from the successful consolidation of its 2012 merger which has resulted in high levels of positive brand exposure over the last 18 months. 

Overall, the Index reveals that firms which have continued to invest in building their brands and market positions, despite the economic downturn, are reaping the rewards.

This is particularly true of those which have enjoyed the greatest gains in Acritas’ London Law Firm Brand Index 2014. DLA PiperBaker & McKenzie and Slaughter and May have all risen three places each this year, and all share the characteristic of having well-defined offerings. 

Some extremely high profile deals have put the spotlight on Slaughter and May’s capabilities in recent months. However, it is the firm’s unique approach to client service and its well-rounded corporate advisors – thanks to cross-disciplinary training – which win clients’ confidence and loyalty. 

Commenting on the firm’s position, Christopher SaulSenior Partner at Slaughter and May, said: “Our organic growth and multi-specialist approach has allowed us to build a highly collegiate team of lawyers who offer clients a calibrated, commercial view. This, together with high partner involvement and a focus on value add rather than time spent, helps us to build genuine trusted adviser relationships with our clients.”

Baker & McKenzie’s enviable global network is an attractive option for UK-based clients with international requirements as well as for in-house counsel based outside the UK with needs in the country. The firm is benefiting from the investment it has made in its London profile and from its success in capturing its share of the international workflows which are powering UK legal market growth.

Paul RawlinsonLondon Managing Partner at Baker & McKenzie said: “Baker & McKenzie has ranked as the number one law firm in Acritas' Global Elite Brand Index every year since it started but to now be recognized by clients and prospective clients as a leading law firm in the UK and the City as well is very pleasing. We feel that this stand-out performance is down to our instinctively collaborative approach with clients and increasing ‘fit’ of our client proposition to UK corporates and banks in today's global economy.” 

DLA Piper’s performance is also boosted by its strong global footprint – scoring particularly well among GCs for high value and inbound UK work. The firm is known among clients for its commercial understanding, much prized by general counsel under pressure to demonstrate value within their organizations.  

Commenting on the results, Acritas’ CEOLisa Hart Shepherd, said: “It is extremely encouraging to see rising confidence in the UK legal market. Our Sharplegal research, upon which the Index is based, reveals that there has been an increase in the number of firms being hired and that clients are much more willing to try new options, led by the need for specialist expertise and the drive for value. 

“This is putting those firms which are clear about their market positioning at a considerable advantage.  Time-pressed in-house teams have little opportunity to seek firms out of obscurity and naturally gravitate towards those which have established a reputation for client service excellence and sector expertise.” 

Two other rapid risers worth noting are Squire Sanders, which has climbed eight places this year to rank 15thand Addleshaw Goddard which has gained four rank positions and lies in 14th place. The former has been successful in developing its industry focus and expanding its client relationships across borders. The latter has enjoyed considerable exposure among the in-house counsel community following the launch of its Value Dynamics toolkit and associated marketing campaign.

Methodology: The Index was compiled from the unprompted responses of 344 senior general counsel in UK organizations with revenues over $50M who were asked about their awareness of and favorability towards law firms; their consideration of firms for top-level litigation and major M&A; as well as their use of firms for high value work. A further 120 senior in-house counsel outside the UK were asked which firms they used for their legal needs in the UK.

Notes: Sharplegal is the world’s most comprehensive annual study of the global legal market. Compiled from interviews with over 1,400 senior law firm clients in $1bn+ revenue ‘global elite’ organizations  and over 1,000 general counsel in $50m to $1bn revenue organizations. 

Comprising over $8 million of data, the research investigates many aspects of the global legal market in great depth, and helps law firms to:

  • Understand current perceptions of their brand and its strength in target markets
  • Ensure they are operating in/moving into the right markets
  • Access the latest market insight to help increase pitch success rate in target markets
  • Improve client retention by better understanding clients’ needs and behaviors
  • Analyze their pricing policy in light of peer group and world trends.

Interviews are conducted in local languages in over 55 countries including the key jurisdictions of the US, Canada, Brazil, the UK, Germany, France, China, Japan, Australia and the Middle East. Now in its eighth year, the study provides access to seven years of benchmarking data from over 14,000 interviews.

To see the Index in full, you can click here and download your complimentary copy of the Indexes from the top right of the web page

To learn more about Acritas’ Sharplegal insight and how it can help you improve your firm's brand strategy and sharpen your competitive edge, please call Susan Pettit +44(0)808 178 3020 or email


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