Jones Day is the strongest law firm brand in the US for the second consecutive year after surpassing five-year leader Skadden last year. While Skadden has strengthened its brand this year, Jones Day has seen a larger gain and increased its lead on the market to an extent not seen since 2014. Lizzy Duffy, VP of Acritas US said: 'Jones Day is more favoured this year for its practical style of delivery, along with its global coverage and breadth of services – all areas we know align with clients’ evolving needs especially now that half of legal departments are assigning responsibility for optimizing legal operations.'
Competition in the US is intensifying among the largest and strongest brands. Analysis of the rankings this year highlights the increasing strength of top firms. According to client data from Acritas, almost all of top 10 have strengthened overall or on individual metrics and the top 10 firms most considered for top-level bet the company litigation and M&A have strengthened on these measures.
This year Acritas has also been capturing data on alternative legal service brands for the first time, in addition to law firm brands, and its data is providing evidence for the rising threat of alternative brands in the legal space. While still not yet as strong as the law firm brands in some markets they are seen by legal departments as driving innovation in the sector. Lizzy added: 'For now law firms still have a richer brand profile – they are seen as authorities in so many more areas of expertise, the current advantage the alternatives have is centred around technology and process efficiency. As clients look for ways to drive value in managing their legal work, the threat from alternatives will continue to rise. Our latest research study shows top of mind awareness of Axiom has almost tripled in four years in the US. Law firms must use this threat as an opportunity to adapt to clients’ current needs.'
Future brand leaders
Outside the top 20 there are 15 firms within five Index points of the top 20 which look set to contest for US brand leadership in the near future (in alphabetical order): Baker Botts, BakerHostetler, Cravath, Davis Polk, Eversheds Sutherland, Gibson Dunn, Greenberg Traurig, Littler Mendelson, Orrick, Perkins Coie, Reed Smith, Seyfarth Shaw, Simpson Thacher, Vinson & Elkins, White & Case. Ms Duffy added: 'Firms with both a strong US presence and an international network are reaping rewards in terms of brand equity. However, those with market-leading ambitions will need to ensure they develop their proposition to resonate with clients evolving needs to succeed.'
Acritas’ US Law Firm Brand Index 2018 is compiled from analysis of an extract of data from the Sharplegal US survey dataset. All data is derived from 601 interviews with respondents, in $1 billion+ revenue organisations across the US, who have senior responsibility for buying legal services. It also includes the views of a further 176 non-US-based senior counsel who were asked which firms they used for their US-based legal needs.