22 October 2019

Legal brands jockey for position

The Acritas 2019 European Brand Index shows jockeying success of global law firms amidst economic forces and emerging opportunities.


Despite Europe being battered by economic forces and discontent, US/China friction and the uncertainty of Brexit, the 2019 European Brand Index shows global law firms exploiting growth opportunities in Europe, with success in Germany emerging as the crucial factor.

Top three

Domestic spend is flat in many parts of Europe, but leading law firms are capitalising on cross border activity.  In Germany in particular, 40 percent of multinationals expect their legal spend into the country to grow this year. International law firms have increased their presence and the leading independent German firms appear high up in the index overall. Baker McKenzie has maintained its lead at the top of the European Index. The firm continues to generate favourability across Europe by leveraging its global coverage and experience to generate more cross-border consideration than any other firm. Moreover, in 2019 the firm has extended its lead at the top by increasingly being considered for clients’ top-level work, especially in Germany and the Netherlands. Linklaters remains in second place despite a drop-in points. CMS has moved up 4 places in this year’s index to third overall. The firm has leveraged its European network very well, increasing its consideration for multi-jurisdictional litigation and deals, and increasingly becoming a firm that clients look to for their support into Germany, France and Italy. Pierre-Sébastien Thill, CMS chairman, commented “Today, clients have much higher expectations of their law firms,” He said CMS works to reflect client demand and their transforming businesses, noting “We are therefore especially proud to see our work recognised in the market.”

Rest of the field

DLA Piper has maintained 4th position this year and continues to draw favour from clients for the firm’s global connectivity and strong approach to client service. Elsewhere in the top 10 both White & Case and Dentons have climbed one position, moving to eighth and tenth respectively. Outside of the top 10 Gleiss Lutz’s focus on service and high levels of expertise appeals to German general counsel, with the firm excelling as the most used in the country for high value work. Norton Rose Fulbright have had a very strong year climbing 9 positions to twelfth. The firm has grown its brand awareness, favourability and usage, particularly within Germany and Italy. Jones Day moved into the top 20 on the back of increasing its favourability and consideration for top-level M&A and multi-jurisdictional deals across the continent.

“Exciting year”

Bird and Bird, Eversheds Sutherland and Herbert Smith Freehills all maintain their positions as top International firms across the continent. Hengeler Mueller, Uría Menendez, BonelliErede and Garrigues complete the top 20 illustrating the potency of leadership in any of the biggest European economies. Jo Summers, Acritas director said “An exciting year for growth and movement as firms continue to think about the impact of Brexit and invest in Europe power.  Delighted to see firms moving up through their investment in talent and more sophisticated client development and marketing.”

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