Jones Day still reigns as top US law firm brand

International firm brings home the crown for a fourth consecutive year

Jones Day still reigns as top US law firm brand

Jones Day has again been crowned the top law firm brand in the US.

This is the fourth consecutive year that Jones Day has topped the Acritas US Law Firm Brand Index. The index is based on data compiled from Sharplegal 2019, a comprehensive study of the global legal market across 55 countries.

Among the top 20, Jones Day is also the only firm to maintain its position, with all other firms experiencing gains or declines. The firm led all others with a brand index of 100.

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The Cleveland, Ohio-based firm was followed by Kirkland & Ellis, which scored 84 and improved two places. Kirkland & Ellis recently became the world’s first US$4bn law firm.

Latham & Watkins also jumped two places to take the third spot with a score of 82.

The firms that recorded the best improvements are Reed Smith, which was up 11 places to take 15th; Greenberg Traurig, up nine spots to take 17th; and Evershed Sutherland, up 10 spots to tie at 18th with Cravath, Swaine & Moore.

The top 20 US law firm brands, along with their change in rank and their score, are:

1. Jones Day (0, 100)

2. Kirkland & Ellis (+2, 84)

3. Latham & Watkins (+2, 82)

4. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (-2, 72)

5. Sidley Austin (+5, 68)

6. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius (-3, 64)

= 7. Baker McKenzie (-1, 63)

= 7. Gibson Dunn & Crutcher (+4, 63)

9. DLA Piper (-1, 58)

10. Hogan Lovells (-3, 49)

11. Mayer Brown (+4, 45)

12. Sullivan & Cromwell (-4, 44)

13. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz (-1, 43)

14. Norton Rose Fulbright (-2, 41)

15. Reed Smith (+11, 38)

16. K&L Gates (-2, 35)

17. Greenberg Traurig (+9, 34)

= 18. Cravath, Swaine & Moore (+6, 33)

= 18. Eversheds Sutherland (+10, 33)

= 20. Littler Mendelson (+8, 32)

= 20. Ropes & Gray (-2, 32)

= 20. Weil, Gotshal & Manges (-5, 32)

“In a crowded and competitive market, the firms that are improving their brand positioning demonstrate their ability to navigate changing dynamics and shifting client needs to remain top of mind with US legal buyers,” said Jen Dezso, director of US research and advisory service at Thomson Reuters, which acquired Acritas late last year.

All in all, 10 brands improved their performance from last year. However, 11 firms featured in last year’s list did not make it to this year’s rankings.

"Each of the firms that improved their position in the top 20 in 2020 have different strengths, but one attribute has increased for all of them: growing their top-of-mind awareness with corporate legal buyers. At its most fundamental level, brand positioning is about being at the forefront of clients’ minds, and the best way to do that is through direct lawyer outreach,” Dezso said.

Dezso said that brand positioning is almost entirely in the hands of the law firms and even firms that see dips for a year can climb back onto the top 20.

The Sharplegal 2019 survey included responses from more than 2,000 in-house counsel around the world who have senior responsibility for buying legal services in organisations with revenues of US$50m or more. The study also involved 627 interviews of senior legal buyers in the US.

The brand index takes into account top-of-mind awareness, favourability, consideration for top-level litigation, consideration for major M&A, and most used firm overall.

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