Top Australian law firms, the Google way

These rank­ings have been updated for 2011!

Oth­er law firm rank­ings go by rev­en­ue, the num­ber of part­ners, or some oth­er meas­ure of big­ness. But in this Web 2.0 world, shouldn’t we be look­ing at what the unwashed masses have to say? In that vein, I am proud to present the 2009 nointrigue​.com Aus­trali­an Law Firm Rank­ings.

The basic idea is that the bet­ter the law firm, the more art­icles there should be on the Inter­net that refer to them. This is sim­il­ar to the idea behind PageR­ank, although I can only find out the PageR­ank of a firm’s web­site to the nearest integer, which is insuf­fi­ciently fine-grained.

I put each of the law firms’ full names through Google in the fol­low­ing format: "law firm name" AND law The name is com­bined with the word law because firms like Gadens have rather com­mon names that could be used in oth­er con­texts.1 The search is restric­ted to Aus­trali­an sites, because inter­na­tion­al firms like Baker & McK­en­zie would be unfairly advant­aged — these rank­ings are meant to be for the Aus­trali­an mar­ket.

Rank­ing Law Firm Page Count Part­ners2
1 Free­hills (*) 20,000 214
2 Mal­lesons Steph­en Jaques (*) 19,600 197
3 Allens Arthur Robin­son (*) 19,500 197
4 Minter Ellis­on (*) 18,600 286
5 Dea­cons3 18,200 133
6 Clayton Utz (*) 17,300 223
7 Hunt & Hunt 15,200 56
8 Blake Dawson4 (*) 14,800 182
9 Corrs Cham­bers West­garth 9,700 120
10 DLA Phil­lips Fox 8,010 164
11 Gadens 6,210 109
12 Mad­docks 6,160 53
13 Baker & McK­en­zie 5,950 91
14 Hold­ing Red­lich 5,720 49
15 Gil­bert + Tobin 4,830 54
16 Sparke Hel­more 4,760 57
17 Middletons 4,260 64
18 Dibbs Abbott Still­man 3,330 68
19 McCul­lough Robertson 3,300 39
20 Arnold Bloch Lei­bler 3,260 28
21 Piper Alder­man 3,080 56
22 Henry Dav­is York 2,510 50
23 TressCox 2,170 48
24 Dav­ies Col­lis­on Cave 1,800 34
25 Her­bert Geer 1,530 47
26 Lander & Rogers 1,400 42
27 HWL Ebsworth 1,310 99
28 Hall & Wil­cox 1,290 27
29 Moray & Agnew 910 53
30 Thom­son Play­ford Cut­lers 335 37
31 Kennedy Strang 252 95

1 This is very rough and some irrel­ev­ant hits might still be returned. How­ever, it appears to be “good enough” via inspec­tion of some of the hits found.
2 The num­ber of the part­ners is stated at 2 Janu­ary 2009, and sourced from the Aus­trali­an Fin­an­cial Review, 12 Decem­ber 2008, page 46.
3 “Dea­con” is a com­mon word and the search with this law firm’s name was par­tic­u­larly prob­lem­at­ic with many irrel­ev­ant hits; the page count is there­fore prob­ably high­er than what it should be.
4 Full dis­clos­ure: I cur­rently work at Blake Dawson as a sum­mer clerk.
* The firms with an aster­isk are the Big Six law firms.

For com­par­is­on, I used the same meth­od­o­logy on UK firms, this time switch­ing the domain to .uk. Clif­ford Chance, with 236 part­ners in the UK, returned 19,000 hits. Link­laters, with 227 part­ners, was second, with 12,800 hits. Thirdly, Fresh­fields Bruck­haus Deringer scored 12,500 hits; it has 219 part­ners and coun­sels, roughly coun­ted from their web­site. Inter­est­ingly, this is the same order as repor­ted by The Law­yer Glob­al 100 2008, which ranks law firms by total rev­en­ue!

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  1. Dan’s avatar

    Fas­cin­at­ing, and very thor­ough! I would have hoped that G+T, which is argu­ably more tech-savvy than the oth­er firms would have a lar­ger pres­ence on the Inter­net.

    Also Hunt & Hunt prob­ably has the same prob­lem as Dea­cons — the words are too gen­er­ic.

    1. Enoch Lau’s avatar

      You might be right with Hunt & Hunt — because I can’t oth­er­wise explain why it beat a top 6 firm. Next time, I’ll prob­ably weight the res­ults by the pro­por­tion of irrel­ev­ant hits I get.

      With G+T, I don’t think it’s more about a pres­ence on the Inter­net; you’ll find that most of the res­ults are from extern­al sources. The more prom­in­ent the firm, the more that people write about them, their activ­it­ies and their people — rather than the more prom­in­ent the firm, the more that they write them­selves.

    2. Paul McKeon’s avatar

      Inter­est­ing, Enoch. Your post matches with a recent Hit­wise report which had Dea­cons at #5 among Aus­tralia law firms on the Web. You might like to take a look at law firm’s use of Web 2.0. You’ll find ours here: http://​friend​feed​.com/​D​e​a​c​ons. Cheers, Paul @ Dea­cons

      1. Enoch Lau’s avatar

        Thanks, but your link doesn’t work!

      2. Tommy Chen’s avatar

        Also bear in mind that the top three Aus­trali­an firms have been around for a while and so are more likely to have been referred to, for whatever reas­on. A search for “Link­laters” in Google books turns up ref­er­ences from the 19th cen­tury — not some­thing that an up-and-com­ing law firm could prac­tic­ally engin­eer.

        Con­grat­u­la­tions on match­ing The Lawyer’s glob­al top 3. If you were to take a leaf out of the meth­od­o­logy of the THES’s world uni­ver­sity rank­ings, this would be where you declare that “the meth­od is sound”.

        1. Dave longpants’s avatar

          Inter­est­ing meth­od­o­logy but, as you’ve rightly poin­ted out, the res­ults are more than likely skewed by com­mon keywords. If I was a law stu­dent, I’d be rather hes­it­ant to regard this inform­a­tion as a means to meas­ure a firm’s credibility/​presence in Aus­tralia. But then again, giv­en the scarce avail­ab­il­ity of form­al rank­ings of Aus­trali­an law firms on the inter­net any­way, the inform­a­tion here might be a good start­ing point for new­bies want­ing to enter the pro­fes­sion.

          Oth­er sources worth­while refer­ring to is http://​www​.leg​al500​.com, where a more (and I say this merely on the basis of pre­sump­tion) accur­ate meth­od­o­logy can be found, and http://​www​.law​yer​sweekly​.com​.au (but only once they feel like updat­ing their web­site again).

          Full (par­tial) dis­clos­ure: I cur­rently work at one of the firms men­tioned above as an art­icled clerk (graud­ate).

          1. Enoch Lau’s avatar

            I’d have to agree with you that there’s a dearth of rank­ings out there, but really, don’t take this post too ser­i­ously.

            Per­son­ally, every­one is look­ing for dif­fer­ent things in a law firm, and thus, there is no one “form­al” or more reli­able set of rank­ings than anoth­er. They are all sub­ject­ive (in terms of what weights the review­er gives to cer­tain cri­ter­ia, say). To put it bluntly, I am, in a sense, try­ing to prove the point that there is no one right way to do rank­ings.

          2. a’s avatar

            does any­one know how much blakle dawson make glob­ally in rev­en­ue? Are they big­ger than Clayton Utz?

          3. Tommy Chen’s avatar

            Accord­ing to The Lawyer’s Glob­al 100, 2008 edi­tion, the answer is “no”. Clutz made US$361.5m in the most recent fisc­al year.

          4. A’s avatar

            Thanks Tommy, I know BDW makw approx AUD$350 in aus­tralia, but they have offices in Shan­gai and Lon­don, so I reck­on they would make about AUD$400 glob­ally

            1. Enoch Lau’s avatar

              Blakes is usu­ally ranked 6th out of the top 6, so I would say it’s smal­ler than Clutz. But big­ger != bet­ter.

            2. A’s avatar

              do you have the list of 6?

              1. Enoch Lau’s avatar

                See the ref­er­ence above to the big 6 law firms

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