The newly published "UK Law Firm Brand Index 2022" details UK legal clients' biggest areas of concern in the UK legal market and how law firms there are addressing their clients' challenges.
Two major factors — the ongoing impact of the global pandemic and the aftermath of the Brexit decision — continues to occupy the minds of many legal clients in the United Kingdom over the past year, leaving their UK law firms eager to demonstrate the top attributes that clients say they now are seeking.
Those attributes include deep-subject matter expertise, breadth of practice, commercial acumen, and strong sector knowledge, according to the newly published UK Law Firm Brand Index. In fact, UK clients are increasingly seeking those outside law firms that can show they have a determined ability to grasp the strategic business challenges with which clients are grappling. Further, clients are looking for those firms that can demonstrate a solid track record of delivering quality results and viable and future-looking commercial solutions, the Index showed.
Simply put, in the minds of many clients, their outside law firms should be looking forward and leveraging all their skills towards solving the next set of issues that clients are certain are around the next corner. That leaves many UK law firms with very full plates, as they strive to keep up with how the UK’s move away from the European Union will impact business, trade, and worker issues, as well as the latest shifts in trade and labor issues and the evolving regulatory and compliance landscapes in the post-pandemic, post-Brexit environment. Firms also need to keep abreast of other notable challenges, such as the ongoing and increasingly rapid digitalization of their clients’ industries.
The sum total of these concerns are certainly keeping corporate GCs awake at night, a level of concern that clients are passing on their outside counsel. Not surprisingly then, as corporate clients say they expect across-the-board increases in their legal spend after two years of tightening budgets, they make it clear that those law firms seeking a portion of their wallet need to meet a stringent criteria of legal skills and attributes centered around deep market knowledge, strong legal acumen, and strategic business guidance.
Cementing strong relationships
For UK law firms, this new reality means that having a respected and clearly defined brand when it comes to attracting clients and cementing trusting relationships has never been more critical. As law firms seek to help their clients navigate still-uncertain waters, they’re seeing how important maintaining these high-quality relationships are to the ultimate success of the firm and its client relationships.
Thomson Reuters’ Regional Law Firm Brand Index 2022 showed how those law firms in the UK and around the world that were able to establish themselves in the minds of clients in areas of favorability and brand awareness were able to strengthen these client relationships as a result, leading to those firms seeing the most growth in this year’s Index. The Regional Index covers the legal markets in five separate countries or regions — the United States, the United Kingdom, Mainland Europe, Canada, and the Asia-Pacific region. Each Index is based on data compiled in 2021 from Thomson Reuters Sharplegal study.
You can watch Jennifer Dezso, Director of Client Relations at Thomson Reuters, breakdown not just the UK legal market, but also the markets in the US, Mainland Europe, Canada, and the Asia-Pacific region.
This year’s UK Law Firm Brand Index, like other Indexes in other regions, exhibited this realignment of client priorities as new names topped a number of the Index charts. In the UK, Clifford Chance topped the Index for first time, improving its Index score by an amazing 44 points and climbing from 9th place in 2020. UK clients said that they had greater brand awareness for Clifford Chance, citing the firm’s ability to combine its strong technical specialty, client-focused approach to providing solutions, and reputation for handling high-level work as reasons it was so favored.
Further, Clifford Chance was seen as a strong partner in clients’ eyes, ready to guide them through uncertainty and help them maximize opportunities in a year of constant change. In short, just what UK clients of all stripes said they were looking for in an outside law firm.
Eversheds Sutherland’s investment of its time and energy into building a business-savvy approach to the market allowed the firm to keep its 2nd place position from last year. According to clients, Eversheds’ ability to understand clients’ businesses and develop and deliver pro-active commercial solutions was a top reason it was favored.
Interestingly, two other firms — CMS and Herbert Smith Freehills — moved up into the 3rd and 4th place, respectively, after tying for 5th place in last year’s Index. And both made their move by leveraging different strategic pathways to success: CMS, based on its industry knowledge and ability to generate proactive, practical solutions to clients’ problems; and Herbert Smith Freehills by delivering on the solidity and technical excellence of its position as the go-to firm for top-level litigation.
As the world moves into a new, post-pandemic era, what corporate clients want from their external law firms is changing as well. Clients are rewarding those law firms that can demonstrate a deeper focus on factors that will position clients to address future challenges and take advantage of coming opportunities.
Not surprisingly, clients in the UK legal market are favoring those UK law firms that can show how well they understand their clients’ business and market sector and can steer clients through the current still-choppy waters and into calmer seas.
You can download the UK Law Firm Brand Index here: