What is The Legal 500?

FIRST published in 1988, The Legal 500 has developed into the largest and most in-depth survey of the UK legal market.

FIRST published in 1988, The Legal 500 has developed into the largest and most in-depth survey of the UK legal market. We analyse the practices of more than 1,000 law firms, and more than 220 sets of barristers’ chambers and Scottish stables.

The Legal 500 is a unique book. There are other surveys of law firms and chambers, but none is researched and written by such a team of experienced and award-winning writers.

Researchers also work on sister Legalease publications such as Legal Business. Many researchers have years of experience, a valuable quality in an increasingly complex marketplace.

Understanding the firms is only one aspect of the research process. Ultimately, it is the clients’ opinions that matter; the 75,000 or so references taken up this year are a vital component of our evaluation of the various legal markets covered in this guide.

Over 18,000 copies of the book are distributed free every year, although it is to our website (at www.legal500.com) that many clients are now increasingly turning, with some 250,000 users per month and three million visits each year. We also publish The Legal 500 Asia-Pacific, The Legal 500 US and The Legal 500 Europe, Middle East & Africa.

Our findings are seen by a huge range of clients, not only international businesses and FTSE companies. In 2009, over 100 local newspapers and trade titles covered The Legal 500’s findings, with circulation over 3.9 million, and a readership of more than ten million people.

This book is primarily a reference tool for buyers of legal services. Law firms themselves will also find much here of interest, be it an independent appraisal of their standing in the market, or an insight into the competition.

When reviewing the performance of a firm or department we use various criteria. We take on board a combination of size and strength in depth. Our assessment will be influenced by all the things that make the complete practice in that field. These include:

Most prestigious clients.

Individuals with the contacts at, and credibility with, the top clients.

In-depth capability beyond star partners.

Very strong technical ability available for the most complex work.

Capacity for the biggest transactions/cases.

Market share.

Historical track record on top deals/cases.

Clear investment for the future in a particular practice area.

Progress made with acquiring new clients/ market share.

Strength in associated areas – eg can an M&A department undertake competition work to an equal standard?

Reputation for handling complex, innovative deals.

Capacity to handle all client requirements in an area – eg international offices/connections.

Commitment to IT and the use of IT to improve client services.

Perception in the market.

We would like to extend our thanks to all the lawyers, marketing professionals and clients who assisted with our research.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer