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Global growth key to law firms winning new business

Law firms that have invested in global growth are favoured by general counsel, survey finds 

4 December 2012

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By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

General counsel at multinational corporations favour law firms which have invested heavily in global growth, a market survey has found.

It found that law firms which have invested in expanding their international presence and improving their client services are perceived as being better equipped to anticipate and meet clients’ global needs.

The findings form part of Acritas’ third annual index ranking of the strongest law firm brands globally. The index is based on interviews with 1,001 senior general counsel at multinationals with US$1bn+ (£620m+) in revenues. Law firms were ranked by general counsel according to awareness, favourability, multi-jurisdictional deals and multi-jurisdictional litigation.

The research found that ambitious law firms with an expanding global footprint and a strategic client-focused approach are becoming the most recognised and favoured globally by general counsel.

The areas of investment which were highlighted as having made a significant difference to law firms’ brand strength were mergers and international expansion, talent management, technical advancements, sophisticated client management and structured client feedback programmes.

Baker & McKenzie ranks at the top of the annual global brand index, followed by Freshfields, Linklaters and Clifford Chance.

DLA Piper, in fourth place, and Norton Rose, in ninth place, have enjoyed the biggest rises in the index since 2010. This was found to be a result of their sustained investment in mergers, international expansion and marketing.

“Our research suggests a changing future distribution of global law firm brands, leading to a structure more akin to the international accountancy market, but with a ‘big 15’ group of law firms, as opposed to a ‘big four’," said Lisa Hart Shepherd, CEO of Acritas

“In light of this, the top law firms face a fundamental strategic decision between working to secure a position as one of these dominant global players and reacting according to market forces or choosing a more specialist role and becoming more ‘boutique’ as a result. 

“To achieve a dominant global position, PEP will have to be sacrificed and long-term investment will be crucial to the successful execution of such an ambitious strategy. For most, this will be too large a sacrifice.”

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