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BRW’s Top 500 private legal firms
       Elvira Naiman          Oct 19, 2012

The BRW’s top 500 lists came out last week and the legal entries were no surprise. Freehills(Herbert Smith Freehills), Allens Linklaters, Clayton Utz, King & Wood Mallesons, Minter Ellison and Ashurst all came in the top 150 rankings with Freehills being the only one of these to move up and also reporting the largest % revenue increase, moving from 95th to 89th place. The others didn’t fare as well in the rankings most notably Minter Ellison which moved from its 91st spot in 2011 to 136th spot- notwithstanding posting a healthy 7.7% increase in revenue. King & Wood Mallesons dropped 30 places to 133rd place as well as being the only top 6 firm to post a negative revenue growth figure, with revenue falling by 3.9%.

 

The general drop in rankings can only be put down to and industry wide problem rather than a firm specific one- namely that other industries are clearly faring better than law.

 

Corrs, Norton Rose, DLA Piper, Gadens, Baker & McKenzie, Gilbert +Tobin, HWLE, Middletons, Sparke Helmore and HDY all also made the Top 500  list- ranked 226th (Corrs) to 461st (HDY). Gadens, Norton Rose, Gilbert + Tobin and Middletons all went up in rankings. Newcomer to the list HWLE- made a splash at 412th spot- largely due to firm’s successful growth strategy. DLA had the largest revenue growth ( by a country mile)- with the firm’s figures growing by nearly 102% (notwithstanding dropping 39 spots in the rankings). Bakers was the only one to report a small revenue % drop perhaps due to the fact that as the only truly international firm on the list (new mergers aside)- is probably more effected locally than others by global market conditions.

 

Slater & Gordon Ltd- whilst ranked around 9th in terms of revenue size is now publicly listed so is not eligible for inclusion in the list. Maddocks, Thomsons and McCulloughs based on current revenue numbers may well be contenders for next year’s list.

 

We wait with interest, to see how  the new international mergers- Freehills, Allens, Mallesons, Ashurst and possibly Middletons- effect the rankings and revenue numbers in next years’ list….

 

 

Rank Place Comparison Name (balance date) Revenue Employees
2012 2011 Total ($m) Change (%) Total Change (%)
22 24 2> PwC Australia (6/12) 1,478.00 3.4 5713 0.4
89 95 6> Freehills (7/12) 565.00 10.6 1754 2.8
122 118 <4 Allens (6/11) 466.20 5.0 N/A N/C
127 116 <11 Clayton Utz (6/12) 455.40 2.7 1532 1.0
133 103 <30 King & Wood Mallesons (6/12) 424.00 -3.9 1370 3.5
136 91 <45 Minter Ellison Legal Group (6/12) 419.20 7.7 1575 11.7
145 141 <4 Ashurst (6/12) 398.00 4.7 1446 5.2
226 222 <4 Corrs Chambers Westgarth (6/11) 252.30 7.7 995 11.4
250 253 3> Norton Rose (6/11) 228.00 3.6 N/A N/C
276 303 27> Gadens Lawyers (6/12) 207.43 12.2 1306 14.9
297 258 <39 DLA Piper (12/11) 191.85 101.9 1000 N/C
349 321 <28 Baker & McKenzie (6/12) 155.20 -8.0 504 -3.8
350 371 21> Gilbert + Tobin 155.00 9.9 445 11.5
412 - - HWL Ebsworth Lawyers (6/11) 120.00 N/C N/A N/C
428 454 26> Middletons (6/12) 115.00 4.5 516 8.6
454 451 <3 Sparke Helmore Lawyers (6/12) 104.69 3.7 512 1.6
461 452 <9 Henry Davis York (6/11) 100.90 3.7 376 3.0