Freehills leads Australia rankings as total revenues for Aus top 35 near £3.9bn
Australia's 35 largest law firms took in a combined total of almost A$6bn (£3.9bn) during the 2011-12 financial year, according to a new report by Australian business title Business Review Weekly (BRW).
Freehills places top of the rankings, which come after its merger with Herbert Smith was confirmed this June, creating a 2,800-lawyer firm under the name Herbert Smith Freehills that will go live as of 1 October.
Four of Australia's 'big six' firms have pursued major strategic initiatives with overseas rivals this year, while Hogan Lovells, K&L Gates, Mayer Brown and White & Case are among several other international law firms thought to be interested in establishing a presence in the country.
Freehills took in A$565m (£382m) during the financial year to 30 June, according to BRW. The 730-lawyer firm outpaced runner-up Clayton Utz, which took in roughly A$455m (£308m), reports BRW.
Clayton Utz and Minter Ellison are the two big six firms that remain independent amid the rush by rivals to forge alliances and mergers with international suitors. Minter Ellison, which placed fifth on BRW's revenue rankings, took in A$419m (£284m) during the most recent financial year.
Allens - a 635-lawyer firm known as Allens Arthur Robinson until it sidestepped a merger and instead entered into an exclusive alliance with Linklaters in May - ranked third on BRW's list with an estimated A$440m (£298m) in gross revenues for 2011-12.
Placing fourth with revenues of A$424m (£287m) is King & Wood Mallesons, the legal giant formed via the combination of leading Chinese domestic firm King & Wood and top Australian firm Mallesons Stephen Jaques. The merger - which went live as of 1 May was structured differently to Freehills's tie-up with Herbert Smith, according to Aussie publication The New Lawyer.
Sixth place on BRW's list goes to Ashurst Australia, a 581-lawyer firm formed late last year when Ashurst combined its Asian operations with Australia's Blake Dawson. Both firms intend to move forward with a full global merger by 2014, although Ashurst has an escape clause built into the deal should a US suitor emerge before then.
Rounding out the top 10 on BRW's gross revenue rankings are Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Norton Rose Australia, Slater & Gordon, and Gadens Lawyers. Slater, the world's first law firm to go public in 2007, bought UK personal injury firm Russell Jones & Walker earlier this year in a £53.8m deal.
Author: Brian Baxter