Thursday, 07 January 2016 15:44

Who stands out?

New ranking of law firm brands in Iberia reveals that Uría Menéndez and PLMJ are the top brands in Spain and Portugal respectively – the leading law firm brands are easily remembered, but also associated with market reputation and expertise in major deals and transactions

Uría Menéndez is the top law firm brand in Spain in the view of leading general counsel, while PLMJ takes the honour in Portugal, according to new research conducted by Iberian Lawyer. A survey of in-house lawyers at major companies in the two countries found that Uría Menéndez’s combination of being ‘front of mind’ with general counsel, being held in high esteem by the market, as well as being the top choice for major deals and litigation meant that its brand was considered the best in Spain. Similarly, PLMJ’s name was the best recognised in Portugal and this, coupled with its good reputation in the market and its track record for handling major transactions, meant it was ranked the country’s top law firm brand.
How is the ranking calculated? Our methodology is the same as that used by legal researchers and consultants worldwide. Study participants (in this case, general counsel who are responsible for buying legal services) are asked three simple questions: Which five law firms first come to mind? Which three law firms do you think most highly of? And finally, which three law firms are you likely to consider for major deals/litigation? For more details about the methodology (including an explanation of how firms’ brands are scored and the different weighting given to each response) see the ‘Methodology’ box on these pages.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Spain’s “big three” – namely Uría Menéndez, Garrigues, and Cuatrecasas, Gonçalves Pereira – had the highest ranking brands. Garrigues actually was the top scorer in the study in terms of name recognition, but the fact that Uría Menéndez was regarded more highly in the market, as well as being the leading choice for ´big-ticket’ work meant that it finished top of the chart. However, participants noted that Garrigues brand was significantly boosted by its excellent reputation in the area of litigation. Meanwhile, third-ranked Cuatrecasas was commended by participants for the “close relationship” it forged with clients.

Close call
Two global firms, Clifford Chance and Baker & McKenzie, were ranked the fourth and fifth best law firm brands in Spain respectively. It was very close call between the two, but Clifford Chance edged out its rival in all three areas, specifically name recognition, level of regard in the market, and reputation for handling major deals and litigation. Clifford Chance was particularly noted for its expertise in international deals.
Pérez-Llorca was placed sixth in the table due to the fact it scored highly in terms of market reputation and record on large-scale deals and litigation. Indeed, Pérez-Llorca outscored the higher ranked Baker & McKenzie in both of these areas but was placed lower in the table due to the fact that Baker & McKenzie had far superior name recognition.
Seventh place in the Spain brand rankings went to Linklaters, largely due to its particularly high score for name recognition – the firms was ‘front of mind’ with a significant number of the research participants. Despite being the fourth largest Iberian law firm by revenue, Gómez-Acebo & Pombo’s brand was ranked in eighth position. While it scored relatively highly in terms of name recognition and market reputation, it scored less well when participants in the study were asked which firms they would choose for major deals and litigation. CMS Albiñana’s scored highly in terms of name recognition and meant it secured ninth spot in the rankings and edged out Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which was placed tenth.  

Portugal: PLMJ leads the way
With regard to the rankings for Portugal, PLMJ’s high score in the area of name recognition – it was ‘front of mind’ with more study participants than any other law firm – meant it was ranked the best law firm band in the country. However, it should be noted that the firm was outscored by second placed Vieira de Almeida (VdA) and third placed MLGTS in the area of market reputation, as well as being outscored by MLGTS when study participants were asked which firms they would consider for major deals and litigation.
VdA was placed second in the ranking due to the fact that it was equal top scorer (with MLGTS) in the area of market reputation, and performed equally as well as PLMJ when study participants were asked which firms they were likely to consider for major deals and litigation.
MLGTS was ranked third in the table because, although it was the highest scoring firm in Portugal in terms of its track record for ‘big-ticket’ work, it was lagging behind both PLMJ and VdA in terms of name recognition. Fourth place in the table went to Linklaters – though the firm scored less than lower ranked firms in terms of name recognition, its good market reputation and expertise in major deals meant its brand performed well in the study.

Cuatrecasas brand travels well
Cuatrecasas, Gonçalves Pereira’s high score in terms of name recognition – it outperformed the higher placed Linklaters in this area – meant that it was ranked the fifth best law firm brand in Portugal. The fact it was ‘front on mind´ with a significant number of participants outweighed the fact that it scored less well in terms of level of regard in the market and its record for handling major deals and litigation.
It is also worth noting that while Cuatrecasas’ brand was considered to be not as strong as Uría Menéndez and Garrigues and Spain, it was considered to have the best brand of the three in Portugal – Uría Menéndez was ranked seventh in Portugal, while Garrigues failed to make our top ten list.
A relatively high score in the area of brand recognition meant that Abreu Advogados was ranked sixth, one place ahead of CMS, which was one of only four firms to be ranked in the top ten brand tables in both Spain and Portugal. IL

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