You are here

Asia-Pacific law firms under pressure to strengthen brands

Global firms with US practices gaining traction with senior legal buyers

13 August 2015

Add comment

By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani

Local Asia-Pacific law firms need to strengthen their brands if they are to retain competitive advantage in their home markets.

Research released today covering 678 senior in-house counsel found that international law firms with strong brands are winning more work in the region.

Local firms retain a competitive advantage in their home markets, but they should not be complacent about their favourability with corporate clients.

"For local independent firms, time is of the essence and brand must be as important as it is for international firms to capture and retain market share in and across these dynamic, high-growth markets," commented Lisa Hart Shepherd, CEO of Acritas, which conducted the research.

The law firm with the strongest brand in Asia Pacific is Baker & McKenzie, according to Acritas' research.

Its substantial network of offices within the region and the US - a key area of focus for Asia-Pacific multinationals - has resulted in it being the most considered firm for multijurisdictional litigation and deals involving the surveyed Asia-Pacific organisations.

Close behind is King & Wood Mallesons, which retains its market dominance for high-value work, followed by Herbert Smith Freehills at third place.

However, with Asia Pacific multinationals increasingly interested in the US market, these firms may struggle to compete in the long term without significant US offerings.

Norton Rose Fulbright was the fastest-rising brand and climbed to fourth place in the annual index. Similar to Baker & McKenzie, the firm has been leveraging its strengths in the US and Asia-Pacific to win new work.

"Firms which can present local market knowledge and depth and breadth of expertise in multiple territories are going to offer comfort and value to clients, particularly those who are often unfamiliar with the markets themselves," commented Hart Shepherd.

"I predict that we will continue to see firms who can be a true global partner to clients rise up the brand ranks, seize competitive advantage and ultimately win market share."

Opportunities in South Korea

A third of legal buyers in Asia Pacific have needs for legal services in South Korea, according to the research.

South Korea's growing importance to multinationals resulted in national firm Kim & Chang climbing one rank to fifth place in the Asia Pacific Law Firm Brand Index, following a 14-point gain.

International law firms are increasingly looking to strengthen their presence in South Korea to capitalise on new opportunities.

White & Case recently opened a Seoul office after having maintained its Korea practice for more than 20 years from other offices.

Other global firms, such as Allen & Overy, are also looking to establish a physical presence in the key market.

The brand index is based on a Sharplegal survey of 363 senior corporate counsel in Asia-Pacific organisations with more than US$50m in annual revenues. A further 315 senior in-house counsel from organisations outside the region and which have more than US$1 billion in revenues were asked about the firms they instructed for Asia-Pacific legal work.


Categorised in:

Business development & Strategy Marketing International