A&O tops law firm branding league table

Magic circle firm Allen & Overy has the best brand recognition in the English legal profession, according to survey results published today. 

The magic circle firm topped a league table of 20 practices after researchers gauged client opinions as well as mainstream and specialist press coverage. 

The table – compiled by London reputation management consultancy Eulogy – is dominated by City global players, but there were some surprises in the top 10. Consumer law specialist firm – and recent alternative business structure convert – Irwin Mitchell was placed fourth on the list. While international private client and wealth management gurus Withers came in at number seven. 

In total, Eulogy ranked 100 firms, but only published the names of the top 20 as it was reluctant to identify those at the lower reaches of the table. DLA Piper was ranked second, while Eversheds came in third.

“As much as the traditional legal sector would like to disagree,” said the researchers in the report, “law firms are already brands without realising it. But in the context of the global and ABS market, they are bad ones. The traditional legal model is no longer seen as safe and trusted, but archaic and out of touch. Some have commented that the UK legal sector is analogue in a digital age.” 

The researchers maintained that those at the top had separated themselves and had “the best reputation” in brand terms. They said the table was based on a combination of press coverage, social media activity and “front of mind responses from the wider industry”. 

A&O’s magic circle competitors all made the top-20 list, with Clifford Chance, Linklaters and Freshfields Brukhaus Deringer in the top 10 and Slaughter and May in eighteenth position. 

David Flynn, head of professional services at Eulogy – who was formerly at the business development departments at Bircham Dyson Bell and Pinsents – commented that while a minority of alert firms had realised the importance of brand recognition, many others were still ignoring the issues. 

“We’ve been talking about branding in the legal profession for years,” he said. “But there are still a lot of mid-tier business law firms that appear to be much of a muchness. And a basic issue is that there are too many law firms.” 

A&O senior partner David Morley said it was clear that his firm was in the vanguard of legal profession branding. “We think brand is important, and other law firms have woken up to that. What is interesting is that if you ask a lot of law firms if they think reputation is important, they will answer yes very quickly, but brand for some of them sounds too much like marketing speak.” 

The top 20 

1 Allen & Overy

2 DLA Piper

3 Eversheds

4 Irwin Mitchell

5 Clifford Chance

6 Linklaters

7 Withers

8 Pinsent Masons

9 Herbert Smith Freehills

10 Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

11 Pannone (to merge with Slater & Gordon in February 2014)

12 CMS

13 Hogan Lovells

14 Ashurst

15 Taylor Wessing

16 Olswang

17 Norton Rose Fulbright

18 Slaughter and May

19 Addleshaw Goddard

20 Berwin Leighton Paisner