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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 site:.au

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 site:.au -site:yellowpages.com.au -site:truelocal.com.au -site:findlaw.com.au -site:lawyerlist.com.au -site:hotfrog.com.au -site:aar.com.au

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 site:.au -site:yellowpages.com.au -site:truelocal.com.au -site:findlaw.com.au -site:lawyerlist.com.au -site:hotfrog.com.au -site:gtlaw.com.au

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

Notes:
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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