There are many ways to measure the strength of a law firm. We get annual reports on total sales, earnings per equity partner, sales per attorney … and having covered this industry for so long, I can lay the arguments for and against any metric. Every ranking has a certain value, except of course a red listing of the number of employees.
However, the easiest way to gauge a company’s strength in the marketplace is to ask customers who they trust. Thomas Reuters released a report this week, “based on data compiled from a market research study by Sharplegal of the global legal market in 55 countries with more than 2,000 senior in-house legal advisors and 746 interviews with senior legal buyers in the US”. to determine which biglaw brands have the greatest gravity with the people who matter.
Are there any problems with a customer survey? For sure. It is often a lagging indicator of a company’s real strength when customers hold onto perceptions of past incarnations of the company. Conversely, it can overreact to recent events and call a company about a high profile partner defect or reward a company for a one-time big ticket deal. On the other hand, when it comes to doing business, perception can be more real than reality.
So here are the top 10:
1. Kirkland & Ellis
2. Latham & Watkins
3. Jones Day
5. DLA Piper
6. Morgan Lewis
8. Gibson Dunn
9. Baker McKenzie
10. Hogan Lovells
No wonder the company known for spending the big bucks to break into the talent market ranks first in terms of trust. Jones Day, historically a winner of this type of leaderboard, fell from first to third place. This shows an earlier brand ranking sponsored by Thomson Reuters, which used a different method of rating global companies, found Jones Day down five places. Perhaps Jones Day proves that the American corporation continues to have a short attention span when it comes to the whole business of “Firms that Lay Conspiracy Theories That Lead to Deadly Insurrection”.
There are many biglaw firms on this list (maybe the number of employees plays a role?), But DLA Piper and Baker McKenzie, which make the top 10, are interesting as the two largest firms in the country per NLJ 500 under Snooty one Lawyers get a bad reputation for being “great for great sake”. But as it turns out, her model has pushed her over many more well-known whiteshoe companies when it comes to impressing customers.
There’s a lot more data in the full report, including an impressive jump for Faegre Drinker, jumping 22 places to 16th place from last year. Here you can register and see the full list.
Top 20 US Law Firm Brands [Thomson Reuters]
Joe Patrice is Senior Editor at Above the Law and co-moderator of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter for all the law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe is also the managing director of RPN Executive Search.
Baker & McKenzie, Biglaw, DLA Piper, Gibson Dunn, Hogan Lovells, Jones Day, Kirkland & Ellis, Latham & Watkins, Morgan Lewis, Leaderboards, Sidley, Skadden, Thomson Reuters