Global firms with Aus presence emerge on top

By Lara Bullock|29 September 2015

An annual ranking of law firms around the world has revealed that the top five firms of 2015 all have one thing in common: they have offices in Australia.

The sixth annual Acritas Global Elite Law Firm Brand Index listed the 20 top law firms across the globe, with Baker & McKenzie remaining undefeated in first place.

Acritas CEO Lisa Hart Shepherd said: “When looking across each of the individual measures that generate the index; top of mind awareness, favourability and consideration for multi-jurisdictional litigation and deals – Baker & McKenzie ranks first on each metric.”

She continued: “However, others are starting to catch up, so this firm cannot be complacent.”

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The four firms that placed after Baker & McKenzie are DLA Piper, Clifford Chance, Norton Rose Fulbright and Hogan Lovells, all of which operate in every major region across the world (US, Canada, Latin America, UK, mainland Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific).

“Firms that are investing in building the most expansive footprints with deep local knowledge, not just a flag in the ground, are winning brand equity in the market,” Ms Hart Shepherd said.

“Today’s clients are global and they expect their firms to be moving that way too.”

While the top four ranked firms have been well established in Australia for a long time, Hogan Lovells only recently joined the Australian market, opening offices in Sydney and Perth earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Clifford Chance is the only magic circle firm to make the top five this year.

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Ms Hart Shepherd said that firms need to respond to the increasingly savvy buyer power of their clients, who have learnt how to mix and match the firms they use.

“To reap the benefits of this more efficient buyer behaviour, firms must be poised to offer a broader spectrum of work at reflective and appropriate prices.”

Clear brand strategies and more diverse leadership are also important elements to ensure continued success, according to Ms Hart Shepherd.

“When I say more diverse leadership I mean in every sense, so the geographic spread of representation on a firm’s board, across the world not just from one or two key markets, and to ensure diversity in gender, ethnicity, age and professional backgrounds too.”

She added: “It is this type of firm that we see making the most progress in growing their firm’s brand equity.”

Rounding out the list from number six to 20 are Jones Day, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters, Allen & Overy, White & Case, Skadden, King & Wood Mallesons, Herbert Smith Freehills, Dentons, Latham & Watkins, Sidley Austin, Kirkland & Ellis, CMS, Morgan Lewis and Eversheds.

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