Trevor Little

  • Baker McKenzie tops Acritas Global Elite Law Firm Brand Index 2017
  • Strongest law firms brands tend to have US presence and global reach
  • Need for strong brand equity is particularly acute in trademark space

In the Acritas Global Elite Law Firm Brand Index 2017, Baker McKenzie has again been declared the strongest firm brand, extending its lead over competitors on the list. While populated by full-service law firms, those in the top-20 ranking also boast a significant level of trademark expertise.

The ranking is presented as a strength index, working down from the number one spot (which boasts a ‘100’ score).

The top 20 law firm brands according to the research are:

Rank

Firm

Brand index

1

Baker McKenzie

100

2

DLA Piper

48

3

Clifford Chance

45

=4

Jones Day

37

=4

Norton Rose Fulbright

37

6

Hogan Lovells

36

7

Allen & Overy

34

=8

Freshfields

33

=8

Linklaters

33

10

Dentons

29

11

Skadden

27

12

Herbert Smith Freehills

25

13

King & Wood Mallesons

23

14

Latham & Watkins

21

=15

Sidley Austin

20

=15

White & Case

20

17

CMS

19

18

Reed Smith

17

19

K&L Gates

15

=20

Eversheds Sutherland

14

=20

Morgan Lewis

14


In terms of the shared qualities of those making the top 20 ranking, the report notes that a strong US presence and an ability to leverage international relationships are two of the levers driving success. As a result, firms which boast both qualities “have reaped the rewards in terms of brand equity”.

Considering the top spot, Lisa Hart Shepherd, CEO of Acritas, comments: “Baker McKenzie continues to dominate on consideration for multi-jurisdictional deals and litigation aided by its vast footprint and widely admired approach to managing global client relationships. This year the firm is twice as strong as the number two ranked brand, increasing its lead for a second year.”

Outside this list, Ashurst, Cleary Gottlieb, Clyde & Co, Kirkland & Ellis, Mayer Brown, Nishimura & Asahi, Ropes & Gray, and Shearman & Sterling are viewed as contesting for global brand leadership and could break into the top 20 in future iterations of the research. 

The index is compiled from analysis of the Sharplegal Global Elite survey 2017, which is derived from more than 1,074 interviews with respondents in $1 billion+ revenue organizations (all respondents have senior responsibility for buying legal services). They were asked specific questions related to the law firms that first come to mind, which they feel most favourable towards, and which are most considered for both multi-jurisdictional deals and multi-jurisdictional litigation across three or more countries.

While the survey is not focused specifically on firms with trademark expertise, the firms on the list do boast significant trademark expertise. Baker McKenzie, DLA Piper, Herbert Smith Freehills, Hogan Lovells, Norton Rose Fulbright and Reed Smith are all ranked in the ‘international’ section of the WTR 1000 –The World’s Leading Trademark Professionals. Of the remaining 15 firms on the top 20 list, all except Linklaters are either ranked, or have individuals ranked, in the WTR 1000

For those in the trademark space, the need for strong brand equity and recognition is particularly acute. Where firms boasting trademark expertise face brand challenges of their own, this is often scrutinised. Meanwhile, for those seeking the trademark dollar from clients, the ability to highlight reputation and brand canniness can be a useful asset. In an industry where brand valuation ranking lists are frequently scrutinised, research into law firm brand strength is worth keeping an eye on.

World Trademark Review previously took a deep dive into law firm brand building and exploitation, the analysis available to subscribers here.

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