Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Australia's role in the supply of legal services in Asia

Did you know, I did not, that of the top 50 Asian law firms, Australian headquartered law firms occupy seven of the top ten, sixteen of the top fifty, spots? You can find the source data here.

Now some might argue that this is in fact a bad thing! However, it is part of our competitive base in looking to our future in Asia.

Two very different things contribute to our current base.

The first is the size and sophistication of the Australian economy. The second may surprise you. Nearly all the top global law firms come from common law countries.

It's not that common law countries are more litigious, although that may be the case. Rather, common law is good at dealing with things that are uncertain, evolving. And that's just the current position in international cross-jurisdictional law.


Anonymous said...


Leaving aside the dreary thought that we 'top' the Asian rankings in exports of lawyers (because maybe it's a good thing that we export them) I am looking at your reference table, and wondering if Australia is included in 'Asia' for the basis of calculation?

#1 - Minter Ellison is stated as 1100, but their own website says "280 partners and 1,000 legal staff" in total. I don't think their Australian-based offices total just 180.

And I note also that numbers 5, 7 and 11 on the list are recorded as having “0 offices in Asia” (second last column in the table), so how do they qualify other than by having some sort of workgroup interest in the region?

If that be the case, go down to #21 - Clifford Chance. They have “6 offices in Asia” and their website claims “3800 legal advisors”. So why aren’t they nearer to the “top” – whatever “top” means?

And I (politely) do not agree with “the size and sophistication” you ascribe to our economy as compared to other parts of Asia.

Nor with your comment that “common law is good at dealing with things that are uncertain, evolving”.

Maybe at another time you might comment upon the word ‘good’ in the above statement? Remove that word and I would agree completely.

With best regards (after disagreeing with both your source and your analysis)


Jim Belshaw said...

Hi KVD. Once again you keep me on my toes! I will check the stats, although I do not expect this to affect the bottom line.

The common law one is interesting. If you look at the global law firm rankings, I will try to post something on this later, common law countries dominate in a way that is out of kilter with their share of economic activity.