The Driving Force Behind the Most Successful Industry Programs

Behind the most successful industry programs stands an opportunity for your firm to provide deep insight into your clients' greatest concerns and needs.

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Clients Name the Best Law Firms in Top Spending Industries for 2017

Clients don’t think in terms of practices like law firms do—clients are always thinking about their business. Today’s legal decision makers want to understand what factors pose a threat to their business, industry, and their specific business objectives. Clients are now selecting law firms based on the firm's industry knowledge. Are they choosing your firm?

By way of example, in Financial Services, top legal-decision makers recognize 24 law firms as having the best relationships—up from 18 last year. These large-spending clients have seen their needs change and expand. Many are trying to assess the impact of Brexit, cybersecurity, the Fiduciary rule, and the changing regulatory and interest environment. These clients have a deep appreciation for law firms who play the role of advisor, as well as attorney.

Financial Services clients use more law firms than most due to their diversity of need, but only 24 have achieved the ultimate relationship status of Clientopia—who are both core and recommended first.

You’ll find the 24 law firms with the strongest client relationships in the Financial Services industry from the just-released BTI Industry Power Rankings 2017 at the bottom of this post.

You can also see the law firms who are earning primary status and the recommendations by clients to their peers in 6 other top spending industries:

And, the 24 Law Firms with the Strongest Client Relationships in Financial Services:

These 24 law firms with the strongest relationships—who are both core and recommended first in the Financial Services industry—are singled out by clients in the just-released BTI Power Rankings 2017:

  • Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld
  • Blank Rome
  • Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney
  • Dentons
  • Dykema
  • Foley & Lardner
  • Gibson Dunn
  • Green & Hall
  • Honigman
  • Hudson Cook
  • Jones Day
  • Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy
  • Morgan Lewis
  • Orrick
  • Paul, Weiss
  • Proskauer Rose
  • Quinn Emanuel
  • Reed Smith
  • Reiferson Miller & Dee
  • Sidley
  • Simpson Thacher
  • Skadden
  • Taft
  • Wachtell Lipton

The firms named in these industries—along with those in 11 more industries—are drawn from our brand new report BTI Industry Power Rankings 2017: The Law Firms with the Best Client Relationships. Use the analysis and insight in this report to develop more Clientopia relationships with your clients and enjoy all the benefits of stronger relationships.

The 17 Law Firms with the Strongest Client Relationships in the Energy Industry


Energy companies are starting to adapt to a low energy prices environment. Some Energy companies have learned how to develop resources at much lower prices than ever before. This enables them to bring new projects online they couldn’t just 2 years ago. Other companies are starting to see stock valuations reaching a point where mergers and acquisitions may make sense. And supply contracts are being rewritten to reflect the new environment.

All of this translates into opportunity—especially for the law firms with the best client relationships.

BTI research reveals 17 law firms stand out with the strongest relationships—who are both core and recommended first in the Energy industry—are named by clients in the just-released BTI Industry Power Rankings 2017:

  • BakerHostetler
  • Blakes
  • BoyarMiller
  • Bryan Cave
  • Cotton Bledsoe Tighe & Dawson
  • Crowell & Moring
  • Eversheds Sutherland
  • GableGotwals
  • Hunton & Williams
  • Jones Day
  • Latham & Watkins
  • Meyer, Unkovic & Scott
  • Miller Canfield
  • Nixon Peabody
  • Norton Rose Fulbright
  • Pillsbury
  • Ropes & Gray

17 Law Firms with the Strongest Client Relationships in the High Tech Industry

Technology continues to play a bigger role in the world and these clients show a continued drive to exceed—and invent—new demands, which in turn causes big spending in IP. At the same time they show a healthy appetite for M&A. These clients want law firms who understand them, their vision, and what they are doing.

All 17 law firms have proven they can not only keep up with their constantly changing High Tech clients, but also stay ahead.

These 17 law firms with the strongest relationships—who are both core and recommended first in the High Tech industry—are named by clients in the just-released BTI Industry Power Rankings 2017:

  • Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld
  • Cooley
  • Covington
  • DLA Piper
  • Finnegan
  • Fish & Richardson
  • Irell & Manella
  • Jackson Lewis
  • Keker, Van Nest & Peters
  • Kirkland & Ellis
  • Morgan Lewis
  • Nutter
  • Pepper Hamilton
  • Polsinelli
  • Seyfarth Shaw
  • WilmerHale
  • Womble Carlyle

The 5 Law Firms with the Strongest Client Relationships in the Food Industry

The Food industry is large, with many players playing different roles ranging from the source to our tables. Food companies have big litigation needs, see increased M&A activity, seek regulatory counsel, and help in supply chain management and assessing the impact of new food technologies. The sheer number of competitors in this industry makes it harder for law firms to stand out than in other industries.

However, BTI research reveals 5 law firms enjoy the strongest relationships—who are both core and recommended first in the Food industry—and are named by clients in the just-released BTI Industry Power Rankings 2017:

  • Brown, Hay + Stephens
  • Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel
  • Faegre Baker Daniels
  • McGuireWoods
  • Sidley

The 15 Law Firms with the Strongest Client Relationships in the Health Care Industry

The Health Care industry faces great uncertainty and change. The Affordable Care Act faces a cloudy future as demand rises and the cost of medical technology soars. The big players are plotting their moves with mergers and other plans while regional systems combine resources to create new delivery models—and litigate with potential competitors and partners alike.

The top legal decision makers in Heath Care see 15 law firms standing out with the best and strongest relationships—who are both core and recommended first—up from 9 last year. These firms are recognized in the just-released BTI Industry Power Rankings 2017:

  • Akerman
  • Davis Polk
  • Dechert
  • Foley Hoag
  • Greenberg Dauber Epstein & Tucker
  • Hogan Lovells
  • Latham & Watkins
  • Morrison & Foerster
  • Norton Rose Fulbright
  • Paul, Weiss
  • Polsinelli
  • Reed Smith
  • Shearman & Sterling
  • Skadden
  • White & Case

The 16 Law Firms with the Strongest Client Relationships in the Pharmaceutical Industry


Big Pharma named 16 law firms with the strongest relationships, up from 10 last year. These clients have big needs and are among the largest legal spenders in the world. Look for Big Pharma to spend big before and during development of a drug, and as it goes through the regulatory process. In addition, there is an active licensing, joint venture, and acquisition need as these companies drive their own growth.

Big Pharma use many law firms in different roles—but only 16 firms stand out as having the strongest relationships, reaching Clientopia.

These 16 law firms with the strongest relationships—who are both core and recommended first in the Pharmaceuticals industry—are named by clients in the just-released BTI Industry Power Rankings 2017:

  • Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer
  • Burr & Forman
  • Crowell & Moring
  • Dentons
  • Erise IP
  • Fish & Richardson
  • Hall, Render, Killian, Heath & Lyman
  • King & Spalding
  • Mayer Brown
  • Schiff Hardin
  • Skadden
  • Thompson Coburn
  • Venable
  • Wachtell Lipton
  • White & Case
  • WilmerHale

The 12 Law Firms with the Strongest Client Relationships in the Real Estate Industry

The commercial Real Estate industry shows pockets of growth, trouble, and change. Certain REITs worry about their regulatory status while others are growing—primarily through specialty REITS. High-end transactions are still attracting buyers while there is a large segment of the market trying to restructure tenant leases and financing. This market demands you know your clients and the intricacies of their situation.

BTI research shows 12 law firms with the strongest relationships—who are both core and recommended first in the Real Estate industry—are named by clients in the just-released BTI Industry Power Rankings 2017:

  • Bradley
  • Burke, Williams & Sorensen
  • DLA Piper
  • Hinshaw & Culbertson
  • Jenner & Block
  • Jones Day
  • Latham & Watkins
  • Munger, Tolles & Olson
  • Polsinelli
  • Sidley
  • Stikeman Elliott
  • Thompson Hine

GCs Single Out Law Firm Power Players in 18 Industries

Some firms deliver 3.1 practices to their clients on a regular basis while ringing up $32,000 more in profits per attorney than competitors. They also are getting vastly larger shares of client spending. These firms are in Clientopia®—the strongest relationship you can ever have.

Testing Your Relationships for Clientopia

You look to 2 undeniable milestones when measuring Clientopia. First, attaining status as the lead primary provider—a position reserved for the single firm capturing the bulk of a client’s work. You are also the most important firm to your client on a continuing basis.

Second, the honor of being first recommended to a peer. Not just a plain, old recommendation—as in “will you recommend me?”—but the highly prized, elusive unprompted recommendation clients share with each other in confidence. The firm who gets the unprompted peer-to-peer recommendation is the one with the emotionally invested client. Emotionally invested clients give you more pricing flexibility, work without competitive bid, share their deepest concerns, give you feedback, and actively work to make you successful. (The only way to win this envied investment is to deliver superior client service.)

The rare combination of being lead primary provider and earning unprompted peer recommendations places you in Clientopia—the strongest type of client relationship. Firms in Clientopia enjoy preferred access to the best work, more intellectual challenge, higher rates, and a generally more fulfilling experience.

Law Firms with More of the Best Relationships

We conducted in-depth interviews with more than 950 top legal decision makers—all of whom answered the question about their primary firms and exactly who they recommend to their peers—with no suggestions of names or firms. Our goal: to identify the law firms with the strongest relationships.

Only 143 law firms are in Clientopia relationships spread across 18 industries. We found 24 law firms capture more Clientopia relationships, along with delivering a greater number of practices, reaping higher profits per attorney and a larger share of spending than all other firms—these are the BTI Clientopia 24. Please join us in congratulating these firms on earning the largest number of Clientopia relationships of all law firms serving large clients:

  1. Jones Day
  2. Skadden
  3. Dentons
  4. Latham & Watkins
  5. McGuireWoods
  6. Cooley
  7. DLA Piper
  8. Sidley
  9. Kirkland & Ellis
  10. Polsinelli
  11. Hogan Lovells
  12. WilmerHale
  13. Orrick
  14. Reed Smith
  15. Ogletree Deakins
  16. Wachtell Lipton
  17. BakerHostetler
  18. Gibson Dunn
  19. Norton Rose Fulbright
  20. Bryan Cave
  21. Cleary Gottlieb
  22. Paul, Weiss
  23. Crowell & Moring
  24. Alston & Bird

You can see exactly where your firm stands by industry—and overall—and learn how to capture more of these coveted relationships in our newest report BTI Industry Power Rankings 2017.

The Industry Group Ready to Win the Work

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Dateline: June 16, 2017, 10:00 AM Eastern

Gene*, the Retail Industry Chair of a major law firm, asked his partners to put together a list of issues and questions to discuss immediately with clients. “We want to be the first to talk substance with our clients. And this is going to stoke other deals so be sure to bring in the M&A folks. Call every consultant, banker, friend, and former executive you know and report back by COB tomorrow.”

He continued, "Ask them: 'What were they thinking about the Whole Foods acquisition?,' 'What could a competing grocery chain do?,' 'What ideas did these people have?' Let’s mobilize fast. We have to be the first to talk to our clients about this.” By the end of the next day Gene had assembled a master list of ideas and reactions.

As Gene shared the list with his industry group partners, he reminded them: “share these ideas with clients. You want to stimulate thinking and help them. You don’t need to have all the answers, but you need to have the conversation.”

The clients with whom the industry group partners discussed these ideas were thankful and saw them as value added. One client shared these ideas with their top management team. These clients know Gene and his team understand their business and have the collective experience to be a resource.

Clients love industry groups. Law firms are learning to love them too. 27.3% of law firms now organize themselves by industry, up from 11.6% in 2013**.

The law firms with well built-out industry groups have a clear edge. A robust industry group creates an immediate bond, sets an expectation, and suggests you can do a lot more than skim the surface of industry understanding.

Industry groups present a real opportunity. CLOs rank their primary law firms a barely acceptable 8.1 out of 10 in understanding their business—exposing a competitive weakness which you can exploit. (Clients start to pay premium rates for your understanding of their business when it hits 9.1 out of 10.)

Top legal decision makers become terribly, and sometimes irrevocably disappointed if they learn a law firm’s industry group is just a gathering place for attorneys who have charged time to a company in the industry. While some law firms use their industry groups to showcase the deals, cases and all the legal work performed in the industry, clients expect the vast majority of your industry knowledge to go well beyond legal issues. Clients will talk to you all day about such key issues as:

  • Vexing issues facing industry peers
  • Legal staffing strategies and headcount
  • Legal spending ratios
  • New and potential risks
  • Risk management strategies
  • Key industry events

Not only will clients want to talk to you, but they will want to see you again and again and give you their business. As long as you come armed with one nugget which adds to your client’s knowledge base each time you meet—you’re golden.

You can get this insight from your own experience, informal research with clients and partners, or formal research like BTI’s Legal Spending Benchmarks 2016, which we have been publishing since 2002.

Clients say industry experience as articulated in case work does not add value—clients want the hard-to-get tidbits which reflect peer thinking or industry-specific insights they can’t get anywhere else. Your ability to provide these insights is way more convincing than case statistics in pleading your case.

You can see who the industry leading law firms are and where you stand in our upcoming BTI Industry Power Rankings: The Law Firms with the Best Client Relationships in 18 Industries to be released on July 18, 2017. Reserve your copy here.

*Not his real name.

**Based on in-depth BTI research conducted on a rolling basis between February 2016 and April 2017. BTI conducted more than 340 independent, individual interviews with CLOs and General Counsel at Fortune 1000 companies and large organizations.