16 October 2019

Who you gonna call?

EY Law takes top spot in Global Brand Recognition Index, replacing PwC Legal as top alternative service brand as big four legal units dominate.


EY Law jumped to the top spot in a worldwide survey of legal service provider brand recognition, solidifying the notion that the big four accountancy’s recent buying spree has further put its legal division on the map.

Big four dominance

The law divisions of each of the Big Four companies dominate the 2019 Global Alternative Legal Brand Index issued for the third year by Acritas, a legal market analysis, advisory, and research firm. EY moved up from No. 4 last year to replace PwC Legal, which dropped to second. KPMG Legal finished fourth, just ahead of Deloitte Legal, which tied for fifth with Axiom, a lawyer staffing company that focuses on corporate law departments. Elevate, which has e-discovery and artificial intelligence-infused automation products in its portfolio, jumped up 13 spots to ninth. The legal divisions of PwC and EY are placed third and fourth, respectively, in Acritas’s 2019 US market brand rankings, an index based on some 400 US-based in-house counsel. The big four rank lower in the US because they are not permitted  to offer a full range of legal services in the United States and state bars also restrict law firm ownership.

Spending spree

Acritas suggests the rise of EY and Elevate is in large part due to a spending spree over the past year. Elevate have bought law company Yerra Solutions, Hong Kong-based legal resourcing company Cognatio Law, and enterprise consulting and legal-focused artificial intelligence tech firm LexPredict. EY bought legal outsourcing business Pangea3 from Thomson Reuters in April, and tech-focused law firm Riverside Law in 2018. Elevate chairman and ceo Liam Brown, who calls his business a “law company” rather than an alternative legal service provider, stated “Our acquisitions in the past twelve months have added management talent, extended our consulting and global services capabilities, and added AI to our software offerings,” adding “As the legal market embraces new ways of working, we see growing demand for our multi-disciplinary solutions for legal and business teams, reflecting improving awareness of our brand as the law company.”

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