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It ‘s a dog eat dog world in Australian law, according to the Business Review Weekly’s recent survey of top, Australian firms. Why? The largest law firms are assessing, demoting and culling their partners like never before. It’s tough getting into partnership but even tougher to stay there, according to BRW. Underperforming partners are stripped of their equity and demoted to a fixed-share or consultant status. These Aussies are tough customers.

Other trends identified by BRW in their fifth survey of top Australian firms, including tight controls over equity, an emphasis not just on profitability but also on quality of profits.

Top of the survey for the fifth year in a row was Mallesons Stephen Jaques with revenues of $420 million. It achieved the result with fewer equity partners than the three firms immediately below it and was one of only six firms to earn more than $2 million in revenue per equity partner.

Applying a profit margin of 35-40 per cent of revenue, the firm’s average profit per equity partner is between $816,000 and $933,000.

The rankings for the top 20 firms on the basis of revenues (in brackets) and profits were:

1. Mallesons Stephen Jacques – $420 m
2. Minter Ellison Legal Group – $402 m
3. Freehills – $393 m
4. Allens Arthur Robinson – $320 m
5. Clayton Utz – $317 m
6. Blake Dawson Waldron – $305 m
7. Phillips Fox – $201 m
8. Corrs Chambers Westgarth – $176 m
9. Deacons – $159 m
10. Baker + McKenzie – $112 m
11. Gadens – $96 m
12. Hunt + Hunt – $89 m
13. Gilbert + Tobin – $75 m
14. Sparke Helmore – $70 m
15. Henry Davis York – $54 m
16. Dibbs Barker Gosling – $48 m
17. Ebsworth + Ebsworth – $47 m
18. Middletons $42 m
19. McCullough Robertson – $40 m
20. Abbott Tout – $38 m
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British MP George Galloway and his opponent the Daily Telegraph will leave no stone unturned to sort out what could be a spectacular libel case.

One of the authors claiming Dan Brown’s bestseller The Da Vinci Code copied his ideas has admitted he exaggerated his case in an interview with a journalist.