Big brand boys: Baker & McKenzie's London office
The most recent Acritas ratings survey evaluated firms based on awareness, ‘favourability’, multi-jurisdictional litigation, and multi-jurisdictional transactional capabilities, relegating many domestic US firms to the bottom of the table because they are less concerned with international expansion and more focussed on generating profit.
Internationalisation factored heavily in the ratings, and smaller firms that have made concerted efforts to expand their brands across borders rose up the rankings considerably.
The findings also suggest a restructuring of the sector as the needs of clients continue to change. Acritas chief executive Lisa Hart Shepherd commented, ‘Our research suggests a changing future distribution of global law firm brands, leading to a structure more akin to the international accountancy market, but with a big 15 group of law firms, as opposed to a ‘big four’.’ Ms Shepherd also predicted that firms will either adapt to dominate the field as a global force, or become specialised and develop a ‘boutique’ practice.
Firms with a growing international presence are vying for dominance alongside firms that previously had strongholds on the market, according to the researchers. Clients seeking global legal counsel are demanding new kinds of services, and successful brands have responded with more flexibility towards the traditional hourly rate model, greater international expansion and mergers, and ‘sophisticated client management and structured client feedback.’