Insights from the Best Law Firms™ Survey: A Look at Australia’s Legal Industry

Using proven methods, Best Law Firms surveyed top Australia’s firms, revealing insights into their operational focuses, revenue sources and pro bono work.

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Gregory Sirico

May 30, 2024 12:00 AM

The global legal industry is ever-evolving, and understanding the trends and priorities of top law firms is crucial for staying competitive. In its first phase of global expansion, Best Law Firms conducted a comprehensive survey of law firms in Australia, utilizing the same rigorous methodology and research process we employed in the United States for more than a decade. This article aims to provide insights into Australia’s leading law firms’ operational focuses, revenue sources and pro bono commitments.

A Note on the Data: Participation in the Law Firm Survey is voluntary, and respondents are not required to answer every question. Thus, a cross-comparison of the highlighted data points above may not be an accurate representation.

Domestic Firm Locations:
A Spectrum of Presence

The survey data reveals an interesting distribution of firm locations across Australia. While most responding firms (58) operate from a single central office, there is a notable presence of firms with multiple offices nationwide. Seventeen firms boast a widespread national presence with five or more locations, while others maintain a strategic presence in key cities with two to four offices.

This diverse range of firm sizes and geographical distributions highlights law firms’ varied strategies to serve their clients effectively and establish a strong market presence.

Global Jurisdiction:
Balancing Domestic and International Casework

Regarding the focus of their casework, most of the surveyed firms reported that their primary focus lies within Australia. Half of the respondents stated they do not engage in international casework. However, a few firms maintain a balanced mix of domestic and foreign cases, with five firms reporting that 50% to 74% of their work is Australian and three firms stating that 25% to 49% of their caseload is domestic.

These findings suggest that while the Australian legal market is primarily domestically oriented, a subset of firms actively engage in cross-border work, catering to the needs of international clients and businesses.

Pro Bono Commitment:
Highlighting Exceptional Contributions

Pro bono work is a valued contribution from the legal profession, and the Best Law Firms survey collected data on the pro bono hours contributed by participating firms over the past year. The surveyed firms reported an impressive combined 16,488 pro bono hours. However, a select few firms stood out as exceptional contributors, with the top firms recording between 7,566 and 9,870 pro bono hours.

This dedication to pro bono work demonstrates the commitment of Australia’s leading law firms to social responsibility and access to justice, setting a solid example for the legal community as a whole.

Jurisdiction and Revenue:
Exploring the Financial Landscape

The survey also delved into the financial aspects of law firms, examining the relationship between jurisdiction, client proximity and annual revenue. Among the 23 firms that reported their annual revenue and a 100% focus on the Australian market, only four stated that all their work serves clients in the same location as their headquarters. Most of these firms (11) reported that 70% or more of their work serviced clients in the central office location, with the remaining casework coming from other parts of the country.

Firms focusing solely on the Australian market reported a combined revenue of $1,389,754,829. In contrast, the 19 firms that reported serving both Australian and foreign markets generated a total revenue of $3,773,025,434, highlighting the financial significance of international casework.

These findings provide valuable insights into the financial dynamics of Australia’s legal industry, emphasizing the importance of both domestic and international client bases in driving revenue growth.

Navigating the Evolving Legal Landscape

The Best Law Firms Survey offers a comprehensive look at the state of Australia’s legal industry, shedding light on the operational strategies, pro bono commitments and financial performance of leading law firms. As the global legal landscape evolves, understanding these trends and priorities becomes increasingly crucial for firms seeking to maintain a competitive edge.

By embracing a mix of domestic and international casework, investing in a strategic geographical presence and demonstrating a solid commitment to pro bono work, law firms in Australia can position themselves for success in the years to come. As the Best Law Firms awards continue to expand globally, we can expect to gain even more valuable insights into the legal industries of other countries, fostering a deeper understanding of the global legal ecosystem.

For more information about the Best Law Firms survey process or to inquire about participation in next year’s survey, please get in touch with

This diverse range of firm sizes and geographical distributions highlights law firms’ varied strategies to serve their clients effectively and establish a strong market presence.
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