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The Mad Clientist

14 Firms Move Up in the BTI Brand Elite 28 for 2018

By May 16, 2018April 16th, 2020No Comments

Try as you might to manage, control, focus, and provide clarity—ultimately clients define your brand based on their experience with you. Law firm brands are volatile. Clients change their perceptions of law firms based on their direct and indirect experience.

Despite this, or perhaps because of these changes—clients identify 4 new law firms as part of the 2018 BTI Brand Elite 28—the law firms with brands 7 times stronger than all other law firms. 14 firms within the BTI Brand Elite moved up—all edging for the number-one spot—because they will get the most inbound referrals.

4 New Firms Join the 2018 BTI Brand Elite 28

Akin Gump, Paul Hastings, and Paul, Weiss make their debut appearances in the BTI Brand Elite 28 while Mayer Brown returns after a brief absence. Clients note an increase in client service and innovation at Akin Gump, Paul Hastings and Paul, Weiss. Clients credit increasing innovation from Mayer Brown for the return to the BTI Brand Elite 28.

Jones Day Takes the Top Brand

Top legal decision makers rank Jones Day as the strongest brand for the 2nd year in a row. The world’s most demanding clients rank Jones Day as Best of the Best in all 9 branding attributes. The firm has been able to continue to improve its client service, innovation, and can be relied on for the truly bet-the-company work. This is not a random set of events. Improving on an already best-in-class performance demands vision, a plan, implementation, commitment, and the will.

14 Firms Moved Up

Brands are more volatile than most people give them credit for, resulting in lost deals and lower rates. Despite this we are pleased to report half of the BTI Brand Elite 28 from 2017 moved up at least one place in 2018. The firms below demonstrated the behaviors behind the 9 factors driving brand hirability. Please congratulate the 28 law firms with the best brand according to the most demanding clients.


  1. 1. Jones Day
  2. 2. Skadden
  3. 3. Latham & Watkins
  4. 4. Dentons
  5. 5. DLA Piper
  6. 6. Cooley
  7. 7. Baker McKenzie
  8. 8. Gibson Dunn
  9. 9. Sidley
  10. 10. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
  11. 11. White & Case
  12. 12. Hogan Lovells
  13. 13. Morgan Lewis
  14. 14. Dechert
  1. 15. Cravath, Swaine & Moore
  2. 16. Kirkland & Ellis
  3. 17. Davis Polk
  4. 18. Sullivan & Cromwell
  5. 19. Greenberg Traurig
  6. 20. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld
  7. 21. Reed Smith
  8. 22. McGuireWoods
  9. 23. Paul, Weiss
  10. 24. Pillsbury
  11. 25. Mayer Brown
  12. 26. Norton Rose Fulbright
  13. 27. Polsinelli
  14. 28. Paul Hastings

You can learn about the detailed changes in your firm’s brand with your copy of the BTI Brand Elite 2018: Client Perceptions of the Best-Branded Law Firms, available now.

Any change in client experience can easily change the brand. Some of these changes are strategic and intentional—others are the result of unintended branding events.

BTI conducted more than 686 interviews with top legal decision makers to single out the law firms with the best and strongest brands. Each of the CLOs provided detailed answers and explanations—and have deep opinions about law firm brands.


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