Biglaw branding sounds painful, but thankfully, associates at the highest and mightiest of firms don’t have to sear their flesh with their firms’ logos. Biglaw branding is more about the image firms want clients to see when making hiring decisions, and partners are likely equally as worried about their reputations in the marketplace as their year-end profits.

The last time we spoke about law firm branding, we found out that Skadden had the most recognizable brand in the country. But we, loving rankings as we do, wondered which law firm had the best brand in the world. Luckily for us, hot on the heels of the release of the Am Law Global 100, Acritas published its 2013 Sharplegal Global Elite Brand Index.

Who’s got the best Biglaw brand on the planet? Let’s find out…

Acritas ranks Biglaw firms based on feedback from their most important clients: general counsel at companies across the globe with revenue of at least $1 billion. Here’s how the survey was conducted:

All interviews were conducted by telephone in local languages across 55 countries between January and September as part of the ongoing Sharplegal 2013 survey.

The Sharplegal Global Elite Brand Index is determined through four open-ended questions from the full survey to find out from general counsel:

- The first law firms to come to mind
- The firms they feel most favorable towards
- The firms most considered for multi-jurisdictional deals
- The firms most considered for multi-jurisdictional litigation.

As noted in Morning Docket, DLA Piper, the recently crowned King of the World in terms of revenue, did not take the title of the best brand. Instead, the firm that was dethroned from the seat of power on the Global 100, Baker & McKenzie, came in first place in the Acritas ranking, for the fourth year in a row.

Here are the top 10 global Biglaw brands of 2013, per Acritas (click here to see the full list):

Much of this list has changed from last year’s ranking. While B&M maintained its position (as did DLA and Allen & Overy), the rest of the top 10 shuffled around, and one of the most prestigious firms got booted from the list of the best-known firms in the world altogether. Skadden, once seated at #7 on the Acritas ranking, has landed inelegantly at #13. According to Sarah Chisman-Duffy, head of Acritas Asia-Pacific, Skadden doesn’t have a “clear vision of where it sits in the market.” Ouch. We think Skaddenites will feel better after rolling around in their billions of revenue. White & Case also fell from #10 to #11.

But Baker & McKenzie better watch its back in the global legal marketplace, because rival firms, dubbed the “rapid risers” by Acritas, are quickly catching up — their brand strength has increased dramatically over the past four years. Congratulations are due to the following firms: Kirkland & Ellis (also a rapid riser on the Am Law Global 100); DLA Piper; King & Wood Mallesons; K&L Gates; and Gibson Dunn.

Once again, this ranking speaks volumes as to which Biglaw firms are on top when it comes to client loyalty, but there are only two U.S.-based firms in the top 10 of the Acritas Global Elite (Hogan Lovells is a product of a U.S./U.K. merger). What does this say about our lawyers? Our Biglaw firms might be doing something right, but surely there’s a way to do things differently to propel additional firms to success.

Sharplegal 2013 Global Elite Brand Index [Acritas]
New entrants challenge Bakers’ brand supremacy [Lawyers Weekly]
Baker & McKenzie Tops List of Law Firm Brands [Am Law Daily]

Earlier: Who’s Got the Best Biglaw Brand in the Business?
Bow Before The Global 100, The Top-Grossing Law Firms On The Planet
The 2013 Am Law 100: A Year of ‘Slow Growth’


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