March 24, 2020

Jones Day Retains the Top Spot in Acritas’ US Law Firm Brand Index 2020

Five new firms in this year’s Top 20 brands

NEW YORK, March 24, 2020 – Acritas, now part of Thomson Reuters, announced the 2020 U.S. Law Firm Brand Index. Jones Day takes the number one spot as the strongest law firm brand in the U.S. for the fourth consecutive year and is the only firm to maintain its position from last year. For everyone else, it has been a year of intense competition.

“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 U.S. legal buyers,” said Jen Dezso, director of U.S. Research and Advisory Service at Thomson Reuters.

Ten brands have improved on their performance from last year, while 11 firms that appeared in last year’s top 20 have dropped in the rankings. “It is not strange to see a lot of change in the index rankings from year to year,” said Dezso. "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.”

Kirkland & Ellis takes the number two spot in the index, securing its highest ranking yet and improving in nearly every attribute used to assess U.S. brand strength. Latham & Watkins claims the third position, increasing its score from last year. Both firms have grown their brand scores at an impressive rate, closing the gap on Jones Day’s long-term leading position. Skadden secures the fourth spot, while Sidley makes an impressive jump to fifth, returning to the top five after sitting in the 10th spot last year.

“It’s important to remember brand positioning is almost purely in the hands of the firms themselves,” continued Dezso. “Even firms that see short-term dips one year can climb back onto the leader board.” Three firms — Reed Smith, Cravath and Littler — all return to the index this year after just missing the top 20 in 2019.

Two new entrants in the top 20 rankings are turning the table and showing it is possible to break into the top tier. Greenberg Traurig and Eversheds Sutherland both join the top 20 for the first time after making steady gains in the minds of corporate legal buyers, sitting in 17th and 18th, respectively, in 2020.

“Whether returning to the top 20 after an absence or breaking onto the list for the first time,” added Dezso, “the firms increasing their position are showing they are not only listening to buyers but also ensuring that every interaction they have with buyers helps their firms stand out in an extremely crowded market.”

The Acritas U.S. Law Firm Brand Index 2020 is based on data compiled from the Sharplegal 2019 study of the global legal market of in-house counsel across 55 countries, as well as interviews with U.S.-based senior legal buyers.

A full copy of the Acritas U.S. Brand Index can be downloaded here.

Thomson Reuters

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Jeff McCoy