Law Firms

Secret ACC Ratings Appear on Blog; Group Says Release Is ‘Premature’

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New law firm ratings by in-house counsel were supposed to have been secret, accessible only to the 25,000 members of the Association of Corporate Counsel, at least for now. Law firms wouldn’t see their one- to five-star rankings until more information was available, they were told, and the rankings were not for public consumption.

The cat is already out of the bag, and ACC is saying the publication of its very preliminary ratings is premature. As of last week, about 1,500 in-house lawyers had submitted reviews for fewer than 500 law firms, and the results were posted online for ACC members.

Someone passed the preliminary results along to the blog Above the Law. The blog notes that so far, there are very few ratings of most law firms, and the rankings aren’t all that useful at this early stage.

Despite sounding the cautionary note, Above the Law decided to look at the firms that have received at least five reviews and compiled the best and the worst rankings. So far, the blog says, these law firms have perfect five-star ratings:

• Ballard Spahr (based on five reviews)

• Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge (based on seven reviews)

• Howrey (based on 12 reviews)

• Thompson Hine (based on six reviews)

Above the Law cautions that one bad review can easily drag down a law firm’s rating. With that caveat, the blog says these firms have so far received the lowest ratings, with 3.5 stars:

• Dewey (based on 18 reviews)

• Kirkland & Ellis (based on 21 reviews)

• Weil Gotshal (based on six reviews)

The ratings are based on six categories: understands objectives/expectations; legal expertise; efficiency/process management; responsiveness/communication; predictable cost/budgeting skills; and results delivered/execution.

The ABA Journal asked the Association of Corporate Counsel for comment. Media representatives pointed to an online statement and a blog post by ACC President Fred Krebs. “It is premature and inappropriate at this time to cite ‘rankings’ of law firms given the limited number of evaluations submitted thus far,” Krebs says. “The ACC Value Index is in the early data-gathering stage, and it will take time to develop a robust database.”

The ACC will share its results with law firms “as soon as we finalize the appropriate formats and procedures,” Krebs says.

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