Law firms which strengthened their brands during the economic downturn have substantially outperformed the market with average revenue growth well over double that of the Global 100.
The findings, which form part of Acritas’ new Global Elite Brand Index research among 815 senior general counsel in $1 billion+ revenue multinationals, underline international clients’ preference for the new breed of ‘challenger’ firms.
Rapid risers in this year’s rankings of awareness, favourability and multi-jurisdictional deals and litigation include Kirkland & Ellis, DLA Piper, King & Wood Mallesons, K&L Gates and Gibson Dunn. All have achieved 23% average revenue growth between the 2009/10 and 2012/13 financial years and have gained 12 index points or more in Acritas’ Sharplegal 2013 Global Elite Brand Index.
The success of these forward-thinking, internationalising firms contrasts with the performance of the traditional legal powerhouses, three of which have lost 12 index points or more and averaged only a 5% increase in revenue since 2009. By comparison, the Global 100 has achieved average growth of 9% over the same four-year period.
Although rapid growth is borne of many different factors working in synergy, the clearest differentiator among the fastest growing group, and for Baker & McKenzie in first place, is their global footprint and high proportion of clients with international needs.
Commenting on the findings, Lisa Hart Shepherd, CEO of Acritas, said: “For newer law firms which are rapidly expanding their international presence, building their global brands and vying for work from incumbent firms, high levels of awareness among in-house counsel are vital.
“Our Sharplegal research clearly shows that the largest global clients have broadened their portfolios and now evaluate firm performance on much more than expertise and historic relationships alone. In the search for the highest quality expertise combined with value-for-money and service focus, the challenger brands provide the ideal solution.
“These ambitious firms are proving to be more engaged and in tune with clients’ current and future needs as well as being mindful of their pressurised budgets. The resultant offering is compelling and poses a formidable challenge to the established order.”
Given the importance of cross-border work in fuelling law firm growth, those firms which are able to consistently apply their brand values across markets and translate their offering to meet local needs will continue to win the greater share of mind and budget.
In today’s legal market, every firm is a competitor. Law firm leaders who understand this new competitive context and seize the opportunities it presents are at a great advantage.
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