Employing anywhere from 500-1,000 lawyers each, not only do the Big Six dominate the Australian legal field, but they also play a leading role in the Asia Pacific region. On the full-year 2007 Thomson Reuters tables for completed M&A advisory in Asia Pacific (excluding Japan), Australian firms dominated the top ten -- leading the pack was Freehills at No. 1, followed by Allens Arthur Robinson (No. 2), Minter Ellison (No. 3), Mallesons (No. 5) and Clayton Utz (No. 7), with Blake Dawson barely missing the cut at No. 12.
For full-year 2007, Allens Arthur Robinson was the only Australian firm to crack the worldwide Thomson tables for completed M&A advisory, coming in at No. 25. In 2008, Mallesons, Freehills, Minter Ellison and Clayton Utz all ranked among the top 100 law firms in the world in terms of revenue on The American Lawyer and Legal Week's Global 100 list. The last fact is even more impressive when taking into consideration that Australian law firms, on average, charge only a third of what similar firms in the US and the UK charge.
The Big Six have had a hand in many of the largest cases across the Australasian region in the past few years, including the merger of the world's largest mining company, BHP Billiton, with WMC Resources for USD$7.3 billion in 2005; BHP Billiton's ultimately failed bid for USD$150 billion to acquire rival Rio Tinto in February 2008; News Corporation's USD$50 billion reincorporation from Australia to the US in 2004; and the $9 billion merger between mining and resources companies Equigold and Lihir Gold in March 2008.
The top 20 law firms in Australia account for nearly 80 percent of the nation's commercial legal market, and lording over these top law practices are the firms often referred to as the "Big Six": Allens Arthur Robinson, Blake Dawson, Clayton Utz, Freehills, Mallesons Stephen Jaques, and Minter Ellison. Following the Big Six, other major firms in Australia include Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Deacons, DLA Phillips Fox, Maddocks and Middletons.