Aside from the daily challenges associated with sustaining or exceeding gross revenue year after year, Biglaw partners are probably most worried about their firm’s brand. After all, a brand is something that will keep clients coming back, and usher in new and exciting business opportunities.
But with so many firms to choose from, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly which one is on top when it comes to being the most well-known of the bunch, regardless of what their Am Law or Vault 100 ranks might tell you. What matters most is obviously what the clients think.
Of course, there’s now a ranking to determine which firm has the strongest brand in the business….
For the past two years, Acritas has ranked Biglaw firms based on feedback from their most important clients: general counsel at companies with revenue of at least $50 million. Here’s how the survey was conducted:
Acritas’s survey, conducted by phone between March and December 2012, asked respondents a series of questions about outside legal counsel: which five law firms first come to mind, which three firms do you favor most, which firms do you consider for bet-the-company litigation and major M&A transactions, and which five firms do you use for high value work.
The survey also requested that foreign respondents name the law firms they use for inbound U.S. legal work. Firms received points for each question according to the order in which they were mentioned, with the first firm earning five points, the second getting 4 points and so on. About 10 to 15 percent of this year’s respondents replied to last year’s survey; the rest were first-time participants.
According to Acritas, here are the top ten Biglaw brands in 2013 (you can see the full list over at Am Law Daily):
Much of this list has changed from last year’s ranking. While Skadden and Jones Day maintained their positions, the rest of the top ten shuffled around. Much like on the dating scene, size matters, and apparently “[b]ig is best” when it comes to law firm branding — which could explain the rise of both DLA Piper and Baker & McKenzie (which is the biggest law firm in the world) on this list.
In addition, at least one firm in the top ten has rounded up lateral partners and herded them into its ranks within the past year. That’s another explanation for DLA Pipers’s jump from No. 11 to No. 5 on this list. Yet a third explanation is that general counsel really hate geography just as much as those at DLA do.
Congratulations to Mayer Brown on making its first appearance in the top ten of this ranking. Going forward, though, the firm might want to focus on addressing its declining revenues (as recently reported by Am Law). Being one of the few Biglaw firms in a slump, during a time when many other firms are reporting at least mildly positive results, could have a negative brand impact in the future.
Putting prestige aside, this ranking speaks volumes as to which Biglaw firms are on top when it comes to client loyalty. If your firm’s name is one of the first five that comes to mind when big clients have bet-the-company litigation and major M&A transactions, you know you’re probably doing something right.