What firms did law departments use in 2022?
New research, from Lawyers Weekly and Momentum Intelligence, reveals which external providers in-house teams worked with in the last 12 months.
What is the Legal Firm of Choice Survey?
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Now in its eighth iteration, the Top 25 Attraction Firms ranking is a key element of the Legal Firm of Choice Survey, which identifies the most sought-after private legal practices across the country.
This latest survey was conducted between 14 November and 13 December 2022 and received 462 responses in total, recording the attitudes, priorities and perceptions of legal professionals in Australia — including 104 corporate counsel.
Yesterday (Monday, 13 February), Lawyers Weekly published the Top 25 Attraction Firms ranking for 2022–23. You can see the full list here.
For the first time, the Legal Firm of Choice Survey surveyed in-house respondents, exploring — among other things — the volume of law firms utilised by one’s law department in the past year, whether those in-house professionals would recommend their chosen firms to others, and how they would rank the performance of the firms engaged.
Among the questions asked of in-house survey respondents was which external law firms has one’s organisation worked with in the past 12 months. Respondents were given a list of firms to choose from, could select more than one firm, and could also note that their chosen external providers did not come from the list provided.
In response to the following question — “Which of these external law firms has your organisation worked with in the last 12 months?” — one in four (25 per cent) respondents noted that their law departments have engaged MinterEllison in the past year.
The second-most utilised firm was Herbert Smith Freehills, with one in five (20 per cent) respondents noting that they have used this external provider.
These two were closely followed by Clayton Utz (19 per cent of in-house counsel reported using this firm in 2022), Allens (17 per cent), HWL Ebsworth and King & Wood Mallesons (both 15 per cent), Ashurst (14 per cent), Gilbert + Tobin (13 per cent), Sparke Helmore (12 per cent), and Gadens and Norton Rose Fulbright (both 10 per cent).
Other BigLaw firms — including Corrs Chambers Westgarth, DLA Piper, Johnson Winter & Slattery, Lander & Rogers, Maddocks, McCullough Robertson, and Piper Alderman — were all utilised by anywhere between 6 and 9 per cent of in-house survey respondents.
All other firms listed were used by less than 5 per cent of respondents.
Interestingly, one in five (19 per cent) of respondents also selected “none of the above”, denoting that law departments are looking beyond the list of approximately 50 mid-large law firms in Australia for their legal services panels.
Reflecting on the results, Lawyers Weekly editor Jerome Doraisamy said that the findings offer a glimpse into the motivations of law departments as the Australian market has looked to emerge from the age of coronavirus.
“It is interesting to note that the law firms selected by in-house teams somewhat align — but nowhere near identically — with the firms that private practice lawyers would move to, if given the choice.”
“We are thrilled to publish this research for our subscribers, and we will very soon be bringing further insights into the machinations of legal services panels,” he said.
Later this week, Lawyers Weekly will publish data revealing the levels of satisfaction among law departments with their external providers on various metrics and whether those departments would recommend their chosen providers to colleagues across the market.
Lawyers Weekly and Momentum Intelligence will also be building on the research from the latest Legal Firm of Choice Survey to measure law firms’ performance from the perspective of their clients.
If there are particular elements of the private practice-in-house relationship that you would want to learn about, please email