Most of the AM Law 100 law firms seem to share similar branding. Only one - Jones Day - stands out for its distinct organizational culture dominated by the core value of practicing the law for the sheer love of it. In addition, no one knows anyone else's compensation. And the firm engaged in versions of alternative billing before that issue came onto the radar screen after the crash of the sector in 2007.
Eventually, much of this BigLaw branding monolith could find itself at a disadvantage. Churn is high among clients which are more project-oriented than in there for a long term loyal relationship. Therefore an analogy might be apt: Just as national brands, including those of Kraft's, are under attack from private labels, BigLaw, in many types of assignments, is under threat from good-enough firms without national reputations. We have already witnessed how regional and midsized firms have taken assignments from BigLaw. In addition, changing in-house corporate is allowing the tiers under the top-tier to participate in beauty contests for assignments.
Could the legendary brandnames in BigLaw such as Skadden and Cravath become as much in play as Philadelphia Cream Cheese? Sure, both own share of mind. But when it comes to the pocketbook will purchasers decide to trade down?
In an analysis for financial information company Motley Fool I look at national brands in this era of private label. Here managing partners and their Chief Marketing Officers can read it and reflect on their own positioning and pricing. This review might have taken on urgency since brandname Dewey & LeBoeuf turned into a handful of dust.