Acritas released its fifth annual Global Elite Law Firm Brand Index today (30 September). The Index looks at which firms are most successfully adapting to the changing market and winning client loyalty and favourability as a result.
Bakers has topped the list for the fifth year in a row, with a clear 39-point lead over its nearest competitor. The firm’s unmatched global footprint and its strength in multi-jurisdictional deals and litigation are driving its brand awareness and favourability levels among in-house counsel, according to Acritas.
In second place is Clifford Chance, which has safeguarded its position as the strongest Magic Circle brand.
But the most notable change since last year’s Index has been the rise of Norton Rose Fulbright and DLA Piper to third and fourth place, respectively.
NRF has achieved the greatest rise of any firm since it entered the Index in 15th place in 2010.
Acritas has claimed that NRF has benefited from expanded reach since its widely-publicised mergers, including the recent tie-up with Fulbright & Jaworski.
DLA Piper has also reaped the rewards of merging with a recognised brand in the US. This coupled with the firm’s reputation in cross-border litigation, notably in the technology sector, have moved the firm’s ranking up by six places since 2011.
Herbert Smith Freehills (11th) and King & Wood Mallesons (14th) have also improved their rankings in the wake of their respective mergers.
Acritas research has found that the top 20 control a disproportionate share of total global brand equity: 34 per cent of awareness, 28 per cent of favourability, 56 per cent of consideration for multi-jurisdictional deals and 57 per cent of consideration for multi-jurisdictional litigation.
Lisa Hart Shepherd, the CEO of Acritas, said successful brands engender confidence and higher levels of client satisfaction and loyalty, which lead to greater market share and profits.
“The firms gaining brand strength most rapidly are those which consistently invest in understanding the market and who aren’t afraid to take new approaches,” she said, adding that firms that choose to ignore this route in favour of short-term profits do so “at their peril”.
The research also highlighted the power of market differentiation in industry sectors, with NRF leading in energy, utilities and mining, while Bakers was ahead of other firms in technology, media and telecommunications.
The majority of firms, however, are not differentiated and share an almost identical brand profile.
Acritas’ Global Elite Brand Index 2014 is compiled using data from 1185 interviews with individuals with senior responsibility for buying legal services in $1 billion+ revenue organisations around the world.