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25 March 2020

Jones Day rated top US legal brand as Eversheds Sutherland breaks into top 20 for first time

Acritas ranking sees Jones Day at summit for fourth year; Eversheds Sutherland's top 20 debut comes three years after transatlantic merger

Pic of Eversheds Sutherland office

Eversheds Sutherland: brand is on the rise in the US Shutterstock

Jones Day has been named the strongest law firm brand in the US as Eversheds Sutherland becomes a top 20 brand for the first time, three years after its transatlantic merger, according to the Acritas 2020 US Law Firm Brand Index.

Jones Day was ranked first — the only firm to maintain its position from last year — with Kirkland & Ellis climbing two places to take second spot, and Latham & Watkins coming third, also up two places. 

Meanwhile, Eversheds Sutherland, which opened offices in Chicago and San Diego last year, was among two new first-time entrants in the top 20. It secured 18th place one spot behind the other new entrant, Greenberg Traurig.

The move suggests the rationale behind the 2017 merger between top 20 UK firm Eversheds - after many years of resisting a US merger in contrast to many of its UK rivals - and the smaller US firm Sutherland Asbill & Brennan was sound.

“It is very rewarding to see our brand rising steadily over the last few years,” said Mark D. Wasserman, Co-CEO of Eversheds Sutherland. “With two new office openings in the United States in 2019, along with our expansion in strategic practice areas, this result reflects our continued focus on client service and overall growth designed around the needs of our clients.”

The index reflects which US firms are most top-of-mind among in-house counsel and most likely to be considered for big ticket litigation and M&A work.

Jen Dezso, director of US research and advisory service at Thomson Reuters, which acquired Acritas last year, said: “In a crowded and competitive market, the firms that are improving their brand positioning demonstrate their ability to navigate changing dynamics and shifting client needs to remain top-of-mind with US legal buyers.”

Five firms that finished in the top 20 last year saw their rankings rise, with Sidley the biggest climber, jumping five places to fifth. Gibson Dunn also broke into the top 10, gaining four places to tie with Baker McKenzie - which tops the global brand index - for seventh.

Dezso said: “Each of the firms that improved their position in the top 20 in 2020 have different strengths, but one attribute has increased for all of them: growing their top-of-mind awareness with corporate legal buyers. At its most fundamental level, brand positioning is about being at the forefront of clients’ minds, and the best way to do that is through direct lawyer outreach.”

There were five new entrants in the top 20 this year, three of which were re-entries — Reed Smith (15th), Cravath (18th) and Littler Mendelson (20th) — and two that secured a spot in the top 20 for the first time since the rankings were launched nine years ago — Greenberg Traurig (17th) and Eversheds Sutherland (joint 18th with Cravath).

Dezso added: “Whether returning to the top 20 after an absence or breaking onto the list for the first time, the firms increasing their position are showing they are not only listening to buyers but also ensuring that every interaction they have with buyers helps their firms stand out in an extremely crowded market.”

The rankings are based on data compiled from the Sharplegal 2019 study of more than 2,000 in-house counsel across 55 countries, as well as more than 600 interviews with US-based senior legal buyers.

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