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04 May 2020

CMS replaces Eversheds Sutherland as leading UK law firm brand in Acritas survey

Pinsent Masons, DLA Piper and Freshfields also make the top five of the Acritas 2020 UK brand index

Portrait of Penelope Warne

Penelope Warne: "This success demonstrates the excellence and hard work of our people."

CMS has been named the UK’s leading legal brand, according to the Acritas 2020 UK Law Firm Brand Index.

CMS jumped nine places to take the number one spot from last year’s winner Eversheds Surtherland, which dropped two places to third. Pinsent Masons was a non-mover in second place. The survey ranks firms by how top-of-mind and favoured they are among senior legal buyers, which are most in-demand for high-profile deals and litigation, and which are most used overall.

Penelope Warne, senior partner of CMS UK, said: “This success demonstrates the excellence and hard work of our people in delivering the highest quality service to clients for their day-to-day, high-value, local and cross-border work. We are also focused on new ways and innovation to benefit our clients and on increasingly important issues including diversity, climate change and sustainability.”

She added: “Our ambition has always been to deliver excellence for our clients, always aiming to be a future facing law firm. We are delighted to receive this recognition.” 

Other firms that retained their place in the top 10 include DLA Piper, a non-mover in fourth, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, unchanged in fifth, and Clifford Chance, which remained in sixth spot. Linklaters slipped four places to seventh, while Allen & Overy was also a non-mover in eighth. Herbert Smith Freehills and Slaughter and May took the last two spots in the top 10, having fallen by one and three places respectively. 

David Johnson, account director at Acritas, said: “The UK legal market in 2020 finds itself in one of the most disrupted and fluid periods in living memory. The Brexit process has already begun to shift patterns of international legal need. The alternative provider market is growing in value, attractiveness and sophistication. Legal technology is increasingly becoming a differentiator for how law firms can deliver for clients, and the signs are that the impact of Covid-19 are set to fundamentally change how we all work together in the future.”

Against that backdrop, law firms with a reputation for quality work, strategic advice, and a strong value proposition are the ones that are most sought-after by legal departments, the research showed.

Johnson added: “This year’s UK top 20 demonstrates that despite demanding all of these qualities clients don’t necessarily require them all at the same time or indeed from the same firm. This contributes to a highly competitive landscape.”

The index is based on data from interviews with 253 senior legal buyers in the UK and 175 global buyers who have legal needs in the UK.

The global index, which was unveiled in January, was topped by Baker McKenzie, while in March Blakes was named as the leading Canadian brand and Jones Day as the top US brand.

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