IBISWorld recently published its annual list of Australia’s top 500 private companies. There were 13 law firms in the 2017/18 list. Their combined annual revenue was $4.167 billion. That’s an average of around $320 million revenue per firm.
MinterEllison was the first law firm on the list as it had the largest revenue at $564 million, then King & Wood Mallesons and Allens, with revenues of $526.87m and $526.67m respectively. Clayton Utz had revenue of $501.7m. There was a big gap to the next law firm, Norton Rose ($346.9m) and the remainder were below $300m in annual revenue.
It was a big year for BigLaw. The combined increase in revenue for the group as a whole was 7.73%. That is a lot more than inflation and the rate of GDP growth.
MinterEllison’s annual revenue grew by 22.1%. It was the highest rate of growth of all the 13 law firms. Often labelled as fast growing firms, HWL Ebsworth and Mills Oakley grew by 11.6% and 11.5% respectively.
Did MinterEllison ‘cheat’ in the rankings? During that year it had the benefit of additional revenue from its market-stunning acquisition of ITNewco, the IT consulting business. Its exceptional growth in 2017/18 can therefore be partly attributable to growth in non-legal services revenue.
Here is the list of firms in order of size of revenue, from top to bottom:
King & Wood Mallesons
Norton Rose Fulbright
Corrs Chambers Westgarth
HWL Ebsworth Lawyers
Mills Oakley Lawyers
The IBISWorld list excludes all publicly listed firms. The degree of accuracy of the list and its accompanying statistics – in relation to law firms – is worth questioning. However, there is a lot to learn from the rankings even if the data is found to be lacking accuracy in parts.