Ben Woodhead Deputy editor - digital

Ben Woodhead is deputy editor - digital at the Financial Review Group. He writes on business, technology, politics and the economy and can be found on BRW, The Australian Financial Review and Smart Investor.

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Australia’s top law firms revealed

Published 01 August 2012 17:31, Updated 02 August 2012 10:03

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Freehills is the No. 1 law firm in Australia by revenue and the margin back to second placed Clayton Utz shows its rivals have a lot of catching up to do.

By BRW’s calculations, Australia’s top 35 law firms raked in a whopping $5.77 billion over the 2012 financial year, up a tidy 7 per cent on the previous year, with Freehills taking in $565 million well ahead of Clayton Utz in second with $455.4 million.

The top five law firms, which include Allens at No. 3, King & Wood Mallesons at No. 4 and Minter Ellison at No. 5, all generated more than $400 million in revenue during the period to June 30, showing there’s big money being made at the top end of town.

But the news was not all good for the 35 businesses featured in the 2012 BRW Top Law Firms as eight members of the list went backwards financially over the year.

Among the top tier, Freehills was the growth leader with an 11 per cent increase in revenue, while eight firms enjoyed a greater than 15 per cent rise in revenue. But it was Hall and Willcox which really lit up the charts, securing a massive 30 per cent increase in earnings during the period.

Other high flyers include Thomsons Lawyers which logged 23 per cent growth, Slater & Gordon with a 22 per cent jump in earnings and HWL Ebsworth Lawyers’ with 16 per cent growth.

TOP 35 LAW FIRMS BY REVENUE FOR FY2011/2012

RankFirm (Current name)RevenuePartnersLawyersGraduates
1 Freehills  $565,000,000 185 729.2 89.8
2 Clayton Utz  $455,400,000 197 575.2 75
3 Allens  $440,000,000* 175.1 635.1 86.9
4 King & Wood Mallesons  $424,000,000 158.3 541.3 89
5 Minter Ellison  $419,203,000 193.1 574.886 53
6 Ashurst Australia  $398,000,000 181.5 581 87.5
7 Corrs Chambers Westgarth  $265,000,000 122.3 370.5 61
8 Norton Rose Australia  $250,000,000* 140.2 394.5 42
9 Slater & Gordon Ltd  $217,025,000* Not applicable**  436 19
10 Gadens Lawyers  $207,430,927 137 346 0

Figures provided by firms; *BRW estimate only; **ASX listed company does not have partners

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