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Just over two years ago, I cre­ated the inaug­ur­al nointrigue​.com Aus­trali­an Law Firm Rank­ings, which worked on the basic assump­tion that the big­ger and the more not­able a law firm is, the more people would be want­ing to talk about it. And what bet­ter way to meas­ure this than to ask Google.

Here are the rank­ings updated, for 2011.

There have been some slight changes in meth­od­o­logy, in an attempt to focus the search res­ults down to the pages that truly mat­ter. Start­ing with what we used for the 2009 rank­ings:

"law firm name" law

this has been sup­ple­men­ted by search terms that remove pages from the law firm’s own web site and from some par­tic­u­lar web-based dir­ect­or­ies (the list of which is arbit­rary and could well be improved). For example:

"Allens Arthur Robinson" law

For law firms with an ampersand or a plus sign in their name, addi­tion­al search terms were inser­ted to allow for vari­ations in spelling, like so:

("Gilbert + Tobin" OR "Gilbert and Tobin" OR "Gilbert & Tobin" OR "Gilbert Tobin") law

Now, without fur­ther ado:

Law Firm  Pages  Part­ners1 ’09 
1 Clayton Utz 78,900 201 6 Up
2 DLA Phil­lips Fox 72,400 149 10 Up
3 Minter Ellis­on 66,100 291 4 Up
4 Blake Dawson 57,400 175 8 Up
5 Free­hills 48,500 202 1 Down
6 Mal­lesons Steph­en Jaques 46,600 186 2 Down
7 Allens Arthur Robin­son 37,900 177 3 Down
8 Corrs Cham­bers West­garth 25,700 108 9 Up
9 Mad­docks 23,500 53 12 Up
10 Baker & McK­en­zie 21,200 90 13 Up
11 Norton Rose2 19,800 146 5 Down
12 Middletons 18,900 67 17 Up
13 Sparke Hel­more 18,500 49 16 Up
14 Cooper Grace Ward 16,000 24
15 Hold­ing Red­lich 15,600 55 14 Down
16 Henry Dav­is York 10,100 52 22 Up
17 Gil­bert + Tobin 9,470 55 15 Down
18 Piper Alder­man 9,170 57 21 Up
19 Hunt & Hunt 7,130 55 7 Down
20 Arnold Bloch Lei­bler 6,990 29 20
21 McCul­lough Robertson 6,490 46 19 Down
22 HWL Ebsworth 5,320 120 27 Up
23 Kennedy Strang3 4,970 72 31 Up
24 Grif­fith Hack 4,890 30
25 Gadens 4,470 125 11 Down
26 TressCox 4,270 35 23 Down
27 Dav­ies Col­lis­on Cave 2,990 36 24 Down
28 Hall & Wil­cox 1,780 30 28
29 Thom­sons Law­yers4 1,250 47 30 Up
30 Lander & Rogers 815 47 26 Down
31 Moray & Agnew 596 59 29 Down
32 Macpherson+Kelley 340 51
33 Colin Big­gers & Pais­ley 324 29

1 The num­ber of part­ners is the pro­jec­ted fig­ure for 2 Janu­ary 2011, as repor­ted by the Aus­trali­an Fin­an­cial Review on 10 Decem­ber 2010, page 47.
2 Norton Rose merged with Dea­cons, which was #5 in the 2009 rank­ings.
3 Kennedy Strang is a group of law firms (Kemp Strang, Rus­sell Kennedy, Thynne & Macart­ney, Lynch Mey­er). The repor­ted page count is the total count for these law firms.
4 Thom­sons Law­yers was called Thom­son Play­ford Cut­lers at the time of the 2009 rank­ings.

To get a feel for the “noise” in the page count, that is, the num­ber of pages in the res­ult set that do not actu­ally refer to the law firm in ques­tion, I manu­ally examined the top 30 search res­ults for each law firm. For only three firms was 1 out of the 30 pages iden­ti­fied as spuri­ous; the oth­er law firms had no spuri­ous res­ults. This, of course, doesn’t mean the sig­nal-to-noise ratio remains con­stant as one pro­gresses towards the tail end of the search res­ults; Google’s algorithms, by now, are prob­ably quite good at get­ting the more rel­ev­ant pages to appear in earli­er search res­ults.

Man­dat­ory read­ing (for those of you who have read this far and have taken everything ser­i­ously): xkcd on using Google to meas­ure things

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Berkoff v Burchill [1996] 4 All ER 1008 at 1019 per Mil­lett LJ:

It is a com­mon exper­i­ence that ugly people have sat­is­fact­ory social lives — Bor­is Kar­loff is not known to have been a recluse — and it is a pop­u­lar belief for the truth of which I am unable to vouch that ugly men are par­tic­u­larly attract­ive to women.

Trivia: Lord Mil­lett has a Chinese name, 苗禮治 (miu4 lai5 ci4), pre­sum­ably because he is now sit­ting on the Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong.


'If you like your sex life, don't stick a firecracker up your arse' -- David Rolph's media law life lesson #7


The Inter­na­tion­al Free and Open Source Soft­ware Law Review — about time, although, of course, it’s more for law­yers than FOSS enthu­si­asts.

18 Oct 2009 | No comments

Ever wondered what that piece of paper is worth? The Uni­ver­sity of Sydney Gradu­ate Des­tin­a­tions Report is com­piled from sur­veys of gradu­ates four to six months after they com­plete their final year of study, and it provides an over­view of employ­ment oppor­tun­it­ies, start­ing salar­ies and job sat­is­fac­tion, amongst oth­er things. I have some beef with the way the res­ults are col­lated (the employ­er table is a down­right mess, and what inform­a­tion is provided dif­fers between fac­ulties) but I’ll take the stats as gen­er­ally rep­res­ent­at­ive of the truth.

The law is, I sup­pose, per­ceived as a ver­it­able gold mine and thus a highly valu­able degree, and with an aver­age gradu­ate salary of over $79,000, one can under­stand why. But the sur­vey breaks it down fur­ther: under­gradu­ates, on aver­age, end up with over $51,000 while post­gradu­ates get over $98,000. By com­par­is­on, those gradu­at­ing from under­gradu­ate dentistry earn, on aver­age, over $94,000 and work few­er hours (34 hrs/​wk as opposed to 36 hrs/​wk). What’s more, dent­ists are more happy with their job (96% as opposed to 82%). Who would’ve thought? (And 40% of law stu­dents suf­fer depres­sion at some stage. So, if you’re in high school right now and you think law is all glitz and glam­our, take anoth­er hard look, although it’s still a great degree.) As for find­ing a job, 14% of law gradu­ates weren’t employed at the time of the sur­vey, but it’s not entirely clear how many of these were study­ing fur­ther or simply not look­ing for a job; the some­what high fig­ure could also be explained by the fact that the sur­vey would’ve been con­duc­ted at the height of the fin­an­cial crisis.

Of course, there’s more to life than what you get paid, but I’ve sum­mar­ised gradu­ate gross salary by fac­ulty, and then, where pos­sible, I’ve cal­cu­lated aver­age hourly rate. The lat­ter table is use­ful, because it shows that while start­ing salar­ies can dif­fer quite markedly between fac­ulties, this dif­fer­ence can be explained, at least in part, by under-employ­ment.

Summary of graduate gross salary by faculty

Fac­ulty Under­grad Hon­ours 1 Post­grad Over­all
Agri­cul­ture $41,949 - $49,954 $43,569
Archi­tec­ture $33,885 $46,912 $59,552 $46,968
Arts $34,316 - $46,189 $36,605
Dentistry $94,461 $100,875 $123,886 $102,315
Eco­nom­ics $39,572 $46,373 $52,494 $46,793
Edu­ca­tion $44,131 - $55,386 $49,205
Engin­eer­ing $51,384 - $69,075 $53,206
Health Sci­ences $41,514 - $61,195 $49,662
Law $51,507 - $98,927 $79,329
Medi­cine $54,271 - $77,719 $68,300
Music $29,965 $29,382 $37,659 $32,126
Nurs­ing $40,926 - $56,856 $46,167
Phar­macy $34,542 - $58,540 $40,424
Sci­ence $24,801 - $48,878 $34,738
Vet Sci­ences $39,146 $38,690 $92,750 $48,036
Visu­al Arts $18,307 - $29,330 $23,197

1 Data not provided for all fac­ulties (but a blank does not mean that hon­ours can­not be under­taken in that fac­ulty).

Graduate Gross Hourly Rate by Faculty

Fac­ulty Under­grad Hon­ours Post­grad Over­all
Agri­cul­ture $21.80 - $25.28 $22.65
Archi­tec­ture (aver­age hours worked not provided)
Arts $22.76 - $26.13 $23.46
Dentistry $53.43 $48.50 $61.09 $54.66
Eco­nom­ics (aver­age hours worked not provided)
Edu­ca­tion $24.96 - $29.59 $26.28
Engin­eer­ing $25.34 - $34.96 $26.93
Health Sci­ences $22.81 - $32.69 $27.29
Law $27.51 - $45.30 $37.21
Medi­cine (aver­age hours worked not provided)
Music $26.19 $23.54 $25.86 $25.74
Nurs­ing $21.27 - $28.77 $24.00
Phar­macy $17.48 - $31.27 $21.01
Sci­ence $21.68 - $26.86 $24.74
Vet Sci­ences $17.51 $18.15 $44.59 $22.53
Visu­al Arts $14.67 - $20.89 $18.59

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The ads at the uni bus stop are hard to miss: UNSW now offers Jur­is Doc­tor for gradu­ates instead of LLB. What’s the dif­fer­ence? From what I can see, post­gradu­ates will be taught sep­ar­ately from under­gradu­ates, JD stu­dents can take Mas­ters-level courses as elect­ives, and some of the courses might be taught at their new city cam­pus. Intriguing.

Speak­ing of which, I only just found out that UNSW had opened a city cam­pus on O’Connell Street, right in the heart of the fin­an­cial and leg­al dis­trict in Sydney. If you look at the pho­tos, a Sydney Uni law gradu­ate intim­ately famil­i­ar with the bowels of the old law school might be left just some­what envi­ous. Sydney Uni had bet­ter do some­thing soon, because UNSW has just taken away a point of com­pet­it­ive advant­age, our city loc­a­tion.

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Dan and I, back in third year, wrote up our Aus­trali­an con­sti­tu­tion­al law case sum­mar­ies as Wiki­pe­dia art­icles as we were study­ing them: click here for a list of case sum­mar­ies. (We didn’t quite fin­ish though: the red links link to pages that don’t exist.)

01 Sep 2009 | No comments

“I now come to the Galapa­gos Islands Divi­sion of the law of torts, namely, defam­a­tion… The giant turtles of defam­a­tion have evolved their own dia­lect, arcane cus­toms and overly subtle dis­tinc­tions.” — Justice Ipp, “Themes In The Law Of Torts” (Speech, 16 March 2007)

26 Aug 2009 | 1 comment

Last year, the Sydney Law Revue, I thought, deserved noth­ing but vit­ri­ol (to the dis­may of one of the revue dir­ect­ors I happened to chance upon at a clerk­ship func­tion last year). This year, how­ever, the revue was much bet­ter and well deserving of praise: who could for­get the singing Taliban or the all-singing, all-dan­cing jury tri­al? The nud­ity was much abbre­vi­ated, how­ever, and most of the sing­ers are still impossible to under­stand. And that dis­ab­il­ity skit: what were they think­ing (giv­en that Ron McCal­lum would have had to sit through that)? Any­way, a good per­form­ance with lots of tal­ent. Well done.

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Law puzzlers

Here’s today’s light enter­tain­ment, cour­tesy of Dav­id Su, and extrac­ted from the latest edi­tion of The Gavel.

Identi­fy the six hid­den leg­al terms:

Law puzzlers

Answers (high­light the rest of this line to see): affi­davit, pat­ent, brief, mens rea, suit, plaintiff

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