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Just over two years ago, I created the inaugural 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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The Hong Kong Law Fair will be coming to the University of Sydney this year, and it’s being coordinated by the Chinese Law Students Society. Register now to attend, and spread the word!

04 Mar 2009 | No comments

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 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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Gadens Lawyers have caught the attention of many a law student with their outrageous approaches to marketing themselves as an attractive, progressive employer.

This year was no different, and I couldn’t resist snatching their advert from a law school noticeboard (after the applications have closed) to bring you a choice selection of alternative application methods. Satisfying any of the following would, apparently, “entitle you to an instant interview”:

  1. List the middle names of all the partners of Gadens Sydney as at 30 June 2008
  2. Draft your application entirely in prose, in the format of Dr Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham”
  3. Accompany your application with an Elle Woods style application DVD.

The flier then says, “Attempting to satisfy all 3 criteria is just plain showing off.”

I was actually curious enough to look into these three criteria. First, the middle names: their website has a list of partners in Sydney, but I saw no middle names. I suspect you’d either have to be an insider or know an insider (in which case, you’re looking good anyway), or email each and every one of them and risk suffering their wrath.

For the second one, I may just be a philistine, but I’ll admit that I had to look up the Green Eggs and Ham reference.

Enoch I am
I am Enoch
I am Enoch
Enoch I am

That Enoch-I-am!
That Enoch-I-am!
I do not like
that Enoch-I-am!

Do you like
boring old law firms?

I do not like them,
I do not like
boring old law firms.

OK, I give up – especially after finding out from Wikipedia that the entire book is written using only 50 different words.

Finally, while I have observed that a number of select individuals at law school would fit right into the set of Legally Blonde, I suspect they have at least some measure of self-dignity. But law students prove me wrong all the time.

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Come and join Peeter as he explores the wild, scary world of the sewer system. Sharks, law firms and slime are only some of the delights in store! Watch now!

(This was the entry for FilmSoc’s Hairy Guerrilla film competition this semester from Daniel and me. We won Best Animation.*)

Watch it on YouTube, or download the QuickTime file locally.

* out of a total of one.

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