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Australia’s best law firms … dissected – a desktop review

Australia’s best law firms … dissected – a desktop review

By Fred Thompson

‘Best Lawyers’- the oldest and most respected review guide to the legal profession worldwide have released Australia’s best law firms for 2016. The review is based on peer evaluations.

You can read the Financial Review article and check the results here if you haven’t already.

Congratulations to those who made the list, although I’m not really sure what the research actually achieves and what impact it has on the acknowledged firms, however I’m sure it must deliver some new business and raise personal profiles.

I would imagine it will also inflate some egos and I assume the selected firms would receive some kind of award and/or a logo they can place on their website and collateral, which I’ve noticed a few have already done, some making a bigger deal out of it that others.

But seriously, does it really matter what another lawyer or law firm thinks of you or your firm? Surely the thoughts of a potential prospect are far more important. Maybe asking 700,000 prospects what they thought would be a more valuable process than asking peers. I’m sure these results would be quite different.

So if you did make the list, what are future prospects seeing once they visit you online? Would their perception change? Would they rate you as highly as your peers?

Australia’s best law firms dissected

These are interesting questions so I thought would look into it and dissect some of the acknowledged firms and see how their online presence stacks up and what effect they might be having on a prospect. I randomly selected 150 of these firms and some of the results have left me somewhat underwhelmed to say the least.

I based my review on certain key criteria, some not as important than others but interesting all the same.

The 6 criteria were:

> Colour

> Corporate Identity

> Website Design

> Imagery

> Content Marketing

> Positioning

Let’s start with colour and make our way down the list.



Blue was by far the most used. In fact 42% of websites were blue or predominantly blue, followed by red at 18% and then quite an even spread over colours such as aqua, green, orange, yellow gold/brown and black and white. Nothing too damning here, however if you are looking to rebrand at some stage it might be worth steering away from the ‘over used’ blue and red.

Corporate Identity


I based my research here on what I believe to be an acceptable level of design. What I see as reaching the ‘hygiene level’ of creativity. I’ve also taken into consideration the alignment of the identity in regard to the firm’s position, or rather lack of. I found that 19% of firms corporate  identities were not reaching this criteria. That’s a very high number in my book and is just not acceptable in this day an age.

Website Design


My research here is based on the same criteria as for corporate identity and I was expecting the results would be very similar, however I found that 27% of websites were not acceptable. That’s nearly a third of these so called ‘best law firms’ not having a well designed and constructed website. This is a digital age and it’s being ignored.



This has definitely had an impact on the website design percentage due to 54% of websites using stock images rather then their own ‘real life’ photography. Stock images unless selected very carefully can look fake therefore taking away any perception of trust. It was good to see that some firms had gone to the effort of investing in professional photography taken of their team, not only for the ‘our people’ pages but for use on the home page as well. Please no more home page photos of your office building or signage… trust me, no one cares.  And never use people who don’t work in your firm or are not clients.

Content Marketing


Only 13% of these firms are blogging and only a handful of those are doing it well. How are you going to be perceived from the outside as an expert if you don’t write on an ongoing valuable content on a regular basis? I couldn’t find one lead magnet available for downloading either. Find the time to write and find the time to develop a lead magnet or ebook that demonstrates expertise and insights that will be highly valuable to a potential client, not another lawyer.



While these firms were rewarded for their specialist expertise in specific areas, you would never know it from the outside looking in. From an online perspective, not one firm has a clearly defined and articulated position in there chosen field/s. Some have made an attempt but nothing here that supports their expertise. Peer recognition is one thing but it doesn’t pay the bills.

There is good news!

It may all sound like doom and gloom but here’s the good news, particularly for those who want to make the list or retain their spot in this inaugural peer review – there’s a great opportunity, right now, to become more recognized by your peers if you address these 6 key criteria. And for those of you like me who believe that it’s more important to be valued by future prospects, then that’s even better news, if you want to leapfrog the competition.

I hope this review has been of some value and perhaps an eye opener for some to realise just how far behind the game the legal sector is from an online perspective.

If you have any questions or comments in relation to this article please feel free to drop me a line. I’m here to help.

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