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23 March 2021

Kirkland, Pinsents, Bakers and Blakes named top brands in the US, UK, Europe and Canada

Winners revealed in annual regional Acritas rankings as they undergo a rebranding of their own

By John Malpas

Brand concept

EtiAmmos; Shutterstock

Kirkland & Ellis, Pinsent Masons, Baker McKenzie and Blakes have been named the top legal brands in the respective markets of the US, the UK, mainland Europe and Canada, according to research published by Thomson Reuters.

The firms are the top performers in annual regional rankings which this year lose their Acritas branding, instead becoming the Thomson Reuters Law Firm Brand Indexes, Thomson Reuters having acquired UK-based Acritas in November 2019.

In the US, Kirkland and Latham & Watkins are first and second, each moving up a slot from last year’s ranking while Jones Day slips from first place to third after a year when its status as an adviser to former President Donald Trump proved controversial. Skadden, meanwhile, is unchanged in fourth, with DLA Piper moving up the ranking to fifth.

In the UK – the world’s second-most competitive legal market – Pinsent Masons is celebrating having climbed one place to first, replacing CMS, which slips to fifth-equal. 

Eversheds Sutherland, which, like Pinsents, has a substantial national network of offices, climbs one slot to second place. Next comes Magic Circle firm Slaughter and May, having climbed seven places, followed by fellow Magic Circle firm Linklaters, up three to fourth. Fifth equal with CMS is Herbert Smith Freehills.

“This ranking is a welcome validation that we are making headway and that our range of legal and professional services delivered by teams who think innovatively to stay ahead is resonating with our clients,” said Pinsent Masons senior partner Richard Foley.

On mainland Europe, Baker McKenzie - with its comprehensive network of offices – retains first position from last year to complement its longstanding status as the leading global brand. Otherwise, it was a good year for UK-headquartered firms with the Magic Circle trio of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters and Clifford Chance in second, third and fourth. DLA Piper is placed fifth.

Finally, in Canada, the upper echelons of the table are virtually unchanged from last year. Blakes, second-placed McCarthy Tetrault and Osler in third are all unchanged. Next comes Norton Rose Fulbright (down one place), followed by Stikeman Elliott having climbed two slots.

Elizabeth Duffy, senior director, global client services at Thomson Reuters said: “The Index is not a reflection of technical competence alone – it provides a holistic view of which firms are upper-most in clients' minds, which ones they are most attracted to and which firms they most trust with their high value work.”

Each ranking is based on the opinions of legal buyers drawn from a survey of more than 2,000 senior in-house counsel across 55 countries.

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