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
Allens Linklaters
Clayton Utz
Norton Rose Fulbright
Corrs Chambers Westgarth
HWL Ebsworth Lawyers
Baker McKenzie
Maurice Blackburn
Mills Oakley Lawyers
Thomson Geer
K&L Gates

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.