Freehills, which will merge with Herbert Smith on 1 October, has emerged as the largest Australian firm by revenue, as revealed by the latest survey from Australian magazine BRW.
According to BRW’s latest ranking of Australia’s top 35 law firms, Freehills reported a turnover of AU$565m (£382m) for the 2011-12 financial year, representing a year-on-year growth of 10.5 per cent. It is well ahead of the country’s second-highest earning firm Clayton Utz, whose revenue rose 2 per cent to A$455 from the previous year’s A$445m (15 September 2011).
Minter Ellison Legal Group, which took the top spot last year, saw its turnover plunge by 20 per cent to A$419.2m and its ranking move down to fifth. King & Wood Mallesons’ Australian turnover also dropped, by 15.8 percent to A$424m, with the firm moving down one spot to fourth.
Australian firms that have recently tied up with an international firm – Allens (formerly Allens Arthur Robinson), which entered into an exclusive alliance with Linklaters in April (23 April 2012), Ashurst Australia (formerly Blake Dawson), Norton Rose Australia and DLA Piper (formerly DLA Phillips Fox) – have all experienced a single-digit increase in revenue for the 2011-12 financial year.
The nation’s mid-tier firms continue to see strong growth, with Hall and Willcox, Thomsons Lawyers, and Slater & Gordon among the fastest growing firms – all of the three firms achieved a higher than 20 per cent revenue growth rate.
Baker & McKenzie and Henry Davis York are the only other two top 20 firms to have seen a dip in turnover. Baker & McKenzie’s turnover dropped by 8 per cent to A$155m, while Henry Davis York’s turnover slid by 3 per cent to A$98m.
In generally, Australian law firms have weathered the storm reasonably well. By BRW’s calculations, Australia’s top 35 law firms raked in A$5.8bn over the 2011-12 financial year, up 7 per cent on the previous year.
Australia’s top 20 firms by revenue for FY2011/2012
|Rank||Firm (Current name)||Revenue (2011-12) A$m||Revenue (2010-11) A$m||Partners||Lawyers|
|4||King & Wood Mallesons||424||491||158.3||541.3|
|7||Corrs Chambers Westgarth||265||252||122.3||370.5|
|8||Norton Rose Australia||250*||241||140.2||394.5|
|9||Slater & Gordon Ltd||217*||178||Not applicable**||436|
|12||Baker & McKenzie||155||169||89||177|
|13||Gilbert + Tobin||155||141||65.4||172.1|
|14||HWL Ebsworth Lawyers||140||120||146||236|
|17||Sparke Helmore Lawyers||105||100||48.6||190.2|
|18||Henry Davis York||98||101||Not provided||143|
Note: *BRW estimate only; **ASX listed company does not have partners