Top tier law firms in Australia

The purpose of this post is simple: to provide you with a list of all top tier and upper mid tier law firms in Australia, so that you can get straight down to researching them for your clerkship or graduate job applications.

List of top tier firms in Australia
Ohhh, pretty buildings.

The Australian law firm list series

The other posts in this series are here:

  1. mid-tier and mid/medium sized law firms;
  2. international law firms firms;
  3. boutique firms will come as soon as I can find some time; and
  4. for all small firms, check your law society directories, or consult Google.

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Don’t shoot the messenger!

I receive plenty of emails and comments (see some of them below) from people crying about how mentioning that the list is wrong, outdated or stupid.

Don’t take it so personally people! I know you really like the firm you work at and think its the best thing in the world, but the top tier firms are pretty entrenched in Australia. I definitely think it’s going to change – there have been some massive structural shifts in the Australian legal industry over the last few years alone, and it seems clear to me that further change will be necessary.

But until then, don’t shoot the messenger!

Top tier and upper mid tier law firms in Australia

The top tier law space in Australia comprises six firms. The competition for graduate roles is intense, with some firms receiving up to 1000 applications per office. The upper mid tiers are just as intense, and because they typically have smaller graduate cohorts, on a percentage basis, competition is even higher.

But hey, if you weren’t up for a challenge, you probably wouldn’t be studying law.

All law students should put in an application for a top tier law firm
Everyone should put in at least one application for a large firm, if only to understand where these firms fit into Australia’s legal industry.

If this is the first time you’ve visited this blog, then you should read the following two posts:

  • First, a post on legal clerkships. This will hopefully drive home the message on how important it is to prepare for clerkships early (and to apply widely).
  • Second, an overview of the differences between top tier, mid tier and boutique law firms. This discusses the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of law firms, and will give you an understanding of what you could expect if you land a graduate legal role at one of these firms.

Lists by city

Because there are so few firms in these categories, and it would be a little silly to hyperlink to each of them in the lists, here are the links right here:

All firms have a “careers” section, so make your way there to begin with to find any key dates.

Sydney firms

  • Allens Linklaters
  • Ashurst
  • Clayton Utz
  • Herbert Smith Freehills
  • King & Wood Mallesons
  • Minter Ellison
  • Corrs Chambers Westgarth
  • Gilbert + Tobin

Melbourne firms

  • Allens Linklaters
  • Ashurst
  • Clayton Utz
  • Herbert Smith Freehills
  • King & Wood Mallesons
  • Minter Ellison
  • Corrs Chambers Westgarth
  • Gilbert + Tobin

Perth firms

  • Allens Linklaters
  • Ashurst
  • Clayton Utz
  • Herbert Smith Freehills
  • King & Wood Mallesons
  • Minter Ellison
  • Corrs Chambers Westgarth
  • Gilbert + Tobin

Adelaide firms

  • Clayton Utz
  • MinterEllison

Brisbane firms

  • Allens Linklaters
  • Ashurst
  • Clayton Utz
  • King & Wood Mallesons
  • Herbert Smith Freehills
  • MinterEllison

Canberra firms

  • Ashurst
  • King & Wood Mallesons
  • MinterEllison

Darwin Firms

  • Clayton Utz
  • MinterEllison

Gold Coast

  • MinterEllison

Tasmanian firms

  • None, sorry. (How embarrassing… even the Gold Coast has one top tier!)
  • For law students studying in Tasmania, don’t let this put you off applying for the top tiers. It’s a quick and cheap flight over for interviews (especially to Melbourne) , with plenty of affordable places to stay if you land a clerkship.

Any that I’ve missed out?

If there are any upper mid tiers that I’ve missed out, let me know. I’m not too sure what would fall into this category in some states, so I’d appreciate any tips.

Alternatively, if you would like your firm to be listed, send me an email at will [at] youveenteredlawand.com, and let me know roughly how many lawyers work there, and what type of opportunities there are for law students. For example, are there paid clerkship or graduate programs available?

If any firm would like to be removed from this list for any reason, please email me at will [at] youveenteredlawland.com.

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