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BLP, Herbert Smith and Ashurst top the ranks of the chasing pack, but the majority of leading City lawyers still believe the magic circle will retain its stranglehold. Emma Sadowski reports on the latest findings of the Big Question survey

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP), Herbert Smith and Ashurst have seen their market reputation improve more in the last three years than any other ‘chasing pack’ firm, according to new Legal Week research.

The latest Legal Week/EJ Legal Big Question survey of leading City lawyers asked them to rank which two firms had made the most progress improving their market positions over the last three years, with respondents ranking BLP as the firm which has made the most progress.

The firm took almost a third (29.6%) of the votes, with respondents putting Ashurst in second place with 20.2%. The top 10 City firm narrowly beat Herbert Smith, which received just less than 18% of the vote.

Respondents placed Denton Wilde Sapte last, with just 2.5% of respondents voting it the most improved firm.

Ashurst and BLP also scored highly when readers were asked to name the two firms with the strongest current reputation, taking 24% and 11% of the vote respectively.

However, Herbert Smith stormed to the top, winning some 43% of votes as the strongest. Lovells also scored highly, winning around 12% of the vote. Dentons, Simmons & Simmons, CMS Cameron McKenna and SJ Berwin did not fare so well; each took less than 6% of respondents’ votes.

“Nobody can say exactly what a magic circle firm is, other than that it is a firm so anointed by the legal press.”

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