EY rises to the top of Acritas alternative legal services rankings

16 October 2019 Consultancy.asia 4 min. read
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EY has bumped PwC from the top of the latest Acritas’ global alternative services brand leader-board, with the firm also number one for Asia.

Legal sector analysis and research consultancy Acritas has released its third annual Global Alternative Legal Services Provider Brand Index – with EY Law bumping PwC Legal from the top of the pecking order. EY also leap-frogged Thompson Reuters (which held top spot in 2017) and Deloitte Legal, the latter which has slipped from third to joint-fifth, while the remaining legal services branch of the Big Four – KPMG Law – landed in at fourth on the list.  

To arrive at their final brand index rankings, Acritas took the pulse of more than 1,000 senior in-house counsel from around the world, who were asked their perceptions and opinions on both traditional law firms and the ‘new law/alternative’ competitors – such as to which providers were top of mind, the most favored alternatives, and which firms stood out as the most innovative – with the latter title awarded to Thompson Reuters, despite its overall slide down the ladder.

In addition to its global top ranking, EY Law also knocked PwC from the top perch to claim the number one Asia Pacific brand ranking – with the region serving as a significant early battle ground for the Big Four’s deepening foray into the legal services market – while PwC reigns supreme in the UK and Europe and Thomson Reuters takes the lead in the US (where the Big Four face ongoing regulatory hurdles), followed by Axiom, which placed in fifth overall.

“We are thrilled to have the market recognise the value that comes from an integrated enterprise legal services offering and multidisciplinary approach,” commented EY Global Law Leader Cornelius Grossmann, who heads up a team of more than 2,000 lawyers operating in 80-plus jurisdictions. “The combination of global domain knowledge and scale with process rigor and technology-enabled service delivery helps EY clients achieve better business outcomes.”

Acrits’ Global Alternative Legal Brand Index 2019

Y’s purchase this year of Thomson Reuters’ Legal Managed Services’ business Pangea3 also undoubtedly played a part in both firms’ respective rankings movement – with EY recently pushing its BPO wares in a global survey report with over 1,000 senior legal practitioners from a variety of cross-sector businesses, which found that that nearly three quarters are either currently outsourcing thanks to downward pressures or would consider doing so for certain processes.

This year’s biggest mover on the Acritas index was Elevate (which has a branch in Manila among its 14 locations worldwide) – jumping a massive thirteen spots to crack the top ten at number nine (the remaining top ten places went to Lexis Nexis, Lawyers on Demand, and Wolters Kluwer, with Gartner dropping out). Elevate’s rise up the rankings was also given as a result of inorganic growth, the firm having acquired multiple businesses over the past year.

“To cut through and become a serious global player, new law companies need to build mega brands, which is very difficult to do, in a market already crowded with thousands of traditional law firms,” said Acritas CEO Lisa Hart Shepherd. “It is no surprise to see organisations like EY Law and Elevate surge ahead. They have made significant market noise through notable acquisitions and heavy investment in marketing to make the most of these strategic moves.”

A hint of the importance of the Asia Pacific as a centre-point for the Big Four’s alternative legal services ambitions (a global market now worth more than $10 billion) can perhaps be seen through two recent appointments, that of Australia-based pair Tony O’Malley and Stuart Fuller, who both recently rose to head the respective global law practices of PwC and KPMG. Meanwhile, Axiom late last year appointed Yolanda Chan as its new General Manager for the Asia Pacific.