Covers of reports, location of firm names and report titles

Covers of reports may seem at first to vary so idiosyncratically that they reject analysis. But, some common practices and patterns can be discerned. To start the analysis, we selected eleven surveys sponsored by U.S. law firms that published reports in 2017. 1 We looked for several components of covers and when we found one, we assigned it a location on a three-by-three grid in which the largest portion of the component appeared.

Translated into the plot below, the research shows the distribution of report titles, with circles colored to identify the firm in the legend below the plot, and the names of the firms in matching-color squares. If a firm placed all or most of its name in the lower left of the cover, its square appears in the lower left of the nine cells. To prevent over-plotting, where one point or square would otherwise be directly on top of another, we used a technique called \textit{jitter}\index{jitter} to separate the positions by just a little bit. The separation does not describe with precision where the title or firm name actually are on the cover.

An example will help interpret the plot. Haynes Boone’s name appears in the lower left (the green square) and its title in the same cell (the green circle). In the middle cell, three firms have placed their report’s title (Foley Lardner, Seyfarth Shaw, and White Case).

One pattern emerges immediately: the names of these 11 firms appear either in the upper right or the lower left of their respective covers. Titles were distributed more evenly with three of them appearing in the middle of the cover, four in the lower right and four in the upper right.

Eight of the reports state the title on the cover, with no design elements, whereas three of them place a colored rectangle of various sizes around the title (KL Gates, Littler Mendelson, and Seyfarth Shaw). Two of them (Littler Mendelson and White Case) actually stretch the title across much or all of the cover, their position is plotted in the cell that contains the largest portion.

As to the name of the law firm, two of the firms have small icons associated with their names (Proskauer Rose and Foley Lardner) while Littler Mendelson adds a small tagline below its firm name.

Regarding the backgrounds of the covers, six are white, three a color for the entire background (Haynes Boone, Proskauer Rose, and Ropes Gray), and two of them insert a photograph as the entire background (White Case and KL Gates).


  1. The survey reports are Baker McKenzie Cloud 2017, Carlton Fields CA 2017, Foley Lardner Cars 2017, Haynes Boone Borrowing 2017, KLGates GCDisruption 2017, Morrison Foerster GCsup 2017, Littler Mendelson Employer 2017, Proskauer Rose Empl 2017, Ropes Gray Risk 2017, Seyfarth Shaw RE 2017, and White Case Mining 2017.

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