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04 March 2020

Blakes tops Canadian legal brand index for fifth year on the bounce

McCarthy Tetrault takes second spot while Bennett Jones breaks into top ten

By Ben Edwards

A photograph of Toronto

Toronto: Blakes has topped the Acritas ranking for a fifth year Shutterstock

Toronto-based law firm Blakes has topped Acritas’s Canadian Law Firm Brand Index for the fifth year in a row.

Acritas’s ninth annual survey of in-house counsel at Canadian organisations and multinational companies with legal needs in Canada ranked Blakes first, followed by McCarthy Tetrault in second, also for the fifth consecutive year. Norton Rose Fulbright rose one place in the ranking to tie third with Osler. 

Bryson Stokes, Blakes’ managing partner, said: “We’re very pleased with the results, particularly being ahead of the average Canadian firm and all peer firms for drivers relating to service, business-savviness and reputation. The Acritas results suggest that we are setting the bar for service and I thank our clients for this recognition. We will continue not only to innovate, but to develop even deeper and stronger relationships.”

The survey measures which firms are most top-of-mind and most favoured by Canadian legal services buyers, which are most in-demand for high-profile deals and litigation, and which sit at the top of clients’ rosters.

Genna Stainforth, senior manager for North America at Thomson Reuters, which acquired Acritas last year, said: “Corporate clients are hyper-focused on efficiency and effectiveness, and clients are gravitating towards firms that are able to position themselves to provide support in these two areas, especially when it comes to their most strategic, high-risk work.”

Torys climbed one spot to fifth, with Fasken Martineau DuMoulin and Stikeman Elliott dropping one place to sixth and seventh respectively. Dentons (8th) and Borden Ladner Gervais (9th) were non-movers, but there was a new entry at No.10 with Bennett Jones—the first time there has been a new addition to the top 10 since the index began.

Stainforth said growth opportunities for firms are on the rise as Canadian buyers direct even more of their legal spend to external counsel compared to the last survey, with 38% of buyers planning to increase their spend again next year. To capture a portion of that growing spend, firms need to align with the changing strategic priorities of legal departments, which are focusing on providing business-ready solutions to their organisations, she said.

Stainforth added: “Firms often struggle in how to talk about ways they can help clients control their legal costs while still helping the client achieve their business goals. The top 10 firms stand out as a group because they have been successful in talking about their legal services in a business-oriented manner.”

The index surveyed 251 senior in-house counsel or their equivalent at Canadian companies, as well as 69 multinationals with legal needs in Canada.

Last month, the publication of the Acritas 2020 Global Elite Law Firm Brand Index saw Baker McKenzie consolidate its status as the world’s favourite cross-border corporate legal adviser ahead of DLA Piper and Clifford Chance.

Rank Change Firm Score
1 - Blakes 100
2 - McCarthy Tetrault 84
3 +1 Norton Rose 69
3= - Osler 69
5 +1 Torys 68
6 -1 Fasken Martineau DuMoulin 65
7 -1 Stikeman Elliott 59
8 0 Dentons 51
9 0 Borden Ladner Gervais 42
10 +1 Bennett Jones 37

Source: Acritas

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