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The 10 Strongest Law Firm Brands: Lessons for Small Firms, Solos

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By Mark Wilson, Esq. on February 03, 2015 8:50 AM

Acritas' list of the strongest law firm brands is here! At the top, for the fourth year in a row, is Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, known to its friends as just plain old "Skadden."

The competition for law firms is heating up as each one tries to muscle the other ones out for the same money coming from the same clients. Even if you're not in the same level of classification as a Skadden, this list still has some valuable insight.

The Top 10

Here are the Top 10 of Acritas' 20 firms with the highest brand equity, in a very particular order (that order being from greatest to least brand equity):

  1. Skadden
  2. Jones Day
  3. Kirkland & Ellis
  4. DLA Piper
  5. Sidley Austin
  6. Sullivan & Cromwell
  7. K&L Gates
  8. Latham & Watkins
  9. Morgan Lewis
  10. Norton Rose Fulbright

Acritas calculated "brand equity" based on senior corporate attorneys' survey responses asking about "their awareness of and favorability toward law firms" and to what degree they'd consider a law firm for high-level litigation.

Take these specific valuations with a grain of salt, though. Skadden might be No. 1 on Acritas' list, but it's No. 10 on Above the Law's "Power 100" list. (Conversely, Above the Law's No. 1 pick -- Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz -- tied for 19th place in the Acritas survey.)

There's Real Money at Stake

A "brand," as we've explained before, is a way to identify a product. It's what a business wants people to think about it and its products. Brand equity is a somewhat quantitative measure of the power of that brand. Ideally, consumers would agree with the business about a product's brand, but that's not always the case. Take poor Olive Garden, for example, which gets routinely derided as an imitation of Italian food -- and not even a very good one.

Brand equity is sort of an illusion that translates into real money. Investopedia's dictionary points out that brand equity translates into how much a consumer will pay for the branded product over a generic one. This explains why, as Acritas points out, law firms are so concerned with branding. Develop a positive association in the mind of legal consumers and they'll pay more for what they think is a better experience.

"But I'm not a multinational BigLaw firm," you say. That might be true, but you've still got the same problems they have in this field. "As the gaps between ranks continue to close at the top end, it becomes increasingly difficult for firms to stand out from the crowd," the Acritas survey notes. That can be just as true for small and solo firms in a crowded local market where there are literally dozens of, say, personal injury firms.

To avoid becoming just another name in the phone book, a successful law firm has to stand out. That's where FindLaw's Lawyer Marketing experts can help. The beauty of Lawyer Marketing is, you don't have to worry about positioning and strategy and all those other buzzwords; our experts already know what those words mean and how to use them. Click on the link above for a free consultation.

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