BTI’s Methodology and Approach

BTI’s goal each year is to be objective and transparent in our rankings. The BTI Client Service A-Team is a data-driven ranking based solely on in-depth telephone interviews with leading legal decision makers. This research is independent (no law firm or organization other than BTI sponsors this study) and unbiased.

Each year BTI reaches out to a sample of legal decision makers at large organizations with $1 billion or more in revenue. BTI tracks legal spending and thought leaders. No law firm influences the results, submits nominations, or provides client names to BTI.


BTI’s scoring system relies on 3 variables to leave no room for subjective opinion or judgment:

  • Importance of each of the 17 activities to legal decision makers when assessing legal providers

BTI asked legal decision makers: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most important,
how important are each of the following activities when you hire or evaluate a law firm?

  • How difficult it is for a legal decision maker to find a law firm performing well in each of the 17 activities
    (in essence, does the activity differentiate one law firm from another)

BTI asked legal decision makers: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most difficult, how difficult
is it for you to find a law firm performing at best-in-class levels in each of the following activities?

  • Candid, open-ended feedback from decision makers as to which law firm stands out as the best in
    each of the 17 activities

BTI asked legal decision makers: For each of the following activities, can you please tell me
which firm you consider best?

The 17 Activities—A Brief History

27 years ago, BTI began the first and longest-running continuous survey with C-level buyers of professional services. The goal was to understand what drives the absolute best relationships with professional services firms—how and why top executives pick the service providers they do.

More than 14,000 in-depth telephone interviews later, BTI has isolated 17 activities proven to be essential to delivering superior client service and driving the best relationships. BTI Client Service A-Team 2017 draws on data collected in BTI’s ongoing Annual Survey of General Counsel. This study includes between 50% and 55% of companies participating
in prior years. This approach provides for accurate analysis of longitudinal trends while simultaneously allowing for insights into new, changing, and up-and-coming shifts in the legal market.

2017 Survey Participant Demographics


  • Interviews: Over 330 in-depth telephone interviews
  • Time Frame: Conducted between February 18, 2016 and August 1, 2016
  • Incentives: Respondents receive a complimentary report of legal benchmarks and metrics

Highest-ranking Legal Decision Makers:

  • General Counsel/Chief Legal Officer
  • Direct Report to General Counsel
  • Other Legal Decision Maker

Organizations with Highest Levels of Legal Spending:

  • Average revenue of $13.8 billion
  • Median revenue of $4.9 billion

Representative of More than 15 Industry Segments:

  • Banking
  • Chemicals
  • Consumer Goods
  • Energy
  • Financial Services
  • Food & Agriculture
  • Health Care
  • High Tech
  • Insurance
  • Investment Banks
  • Manufacturing
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Professional Services (excluding law firms)
  • Retail Trade
  • Telecommunications
  • Transportation
  • Wholesale Trade

Order now for access to expanded profiles, rankings across 17 metrics, trend data and more.