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Legal Department Benchmarking Report


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Corporate and government organisations with a combined annual legal spend of more than NZ$2 Billion participated in the most extensive research of its kind ever undertaken across Australia and New Zealand.


The multi-award winning inaugural report (described in the media as "the only one that stands out" as "the who's who of legal department benchmarking" and "the most honest and unbiased of any conducted in the law firm ranking business") has been upgraded, with 50% more pages, 35% more graphs, and more analysis and commentary - delivering detailed information and a data-rich resource package helping legal departments develop and refine strategies to help generate savings and capability improvements, and for law firms more effectively to connect with the client perspective.


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For Law Departments "...a huge collection of metrics hitting just about every performance point a legal department needs to make." National Business Review


For Law Firms   "...law firms can see how legal departments really operate. They need to. One of the more disturbing facts ... is that most respondents consider that firms other than their own could do their work equally well." National Business Review


More information


About this Report & What's New              Dedication & Acknowledgement

List of Contents                List of Figures                  List of Tables


"I wasn't sure whether to buy it but I'm glad we did. The Benchmarking Report is excellent. I've been dipping into it regularly and already have lots of tabs with things to follow up. I've also been calling out some of the tips and ideas to the team. They're getting quite excited about the possibilities, so we now want to arrange an offsite. We can get together to ask the hard questions about how we do things now, and what we should be doing to capture all the benefits. It's a huge help."

 -  General Counsel, publicly listed multinational


"What an excellent piece of research; very comprehensive. It reinforced things we already knew, plus insights into some we didn't, including a few surprises. It's already helping identify new ways to better understand the client perspective. "

 -  Managing Partner, major New Zealand law firm


"A very valuable resource and very insightful."

 -  Partner, regional law firm (formerly with a major national firm), charged with transforming its practice



"Having spent days going through the Benchmarking Report in detail I called to say that it's an excellent piece of work. Big firms like us will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to commission this sort of research; it's great to be able to access this level of work at such a good price."

 -  Senior Manager, major Australian law firm


Supplementary materials


(For Report purchasers, password required)



Full access and a licence to use all of the figures and tables in the ACLA/CLANZ Legal Department Benchmarking Report are available for purchasers' use exclusively within their own organisations. These are high resolution jpeg’s, suitable for pasting into a range of internal documents, eg strategic business plans.



Supplementary analysis and other materials will be provided from time to time, including:

  • NEW General Counsel Presentation - not simply a summary of the report; instead, a sharp focus on practical applications of selected findings; to add immediate value for strategic and operational performance (70 pages)

  • UPDATED The 'A team' - Great lawyers named, with respondent commentary (listed by country) (section 80)
  • Legal department growth - more respondent commentary (section 34)
  • Litigation challenges - more tables (sector analysis) (section 69)
  • Terminating law firm relationships - more tables (sector analysis) (section 72)
  • Helping firms deliver value - more respondent commentary (section 81)




Law Department report wins awards & iPad application released

Oct 2011 - Australasia's leading law department benchmarking resource has won two prestigious awards, and is now available on the iPad.


Selected media commentary


In-house counsel 'own the data', Corporate Counsel

At the Association of Corporate Counsel's annual meeting in America, with around 3000 delegates, you almost expect to see the badges identifying the lawyers by some metric (Reduced Legal Spend by 21.7 percent) than a name. Compared to a decade ago in-house counsel are now more intent on requiring an array of measurable data, metrics, targets, project management tools, and rigorous cost controls to implement their focus on getting maximum value from their operations and their outside firms


Behind the Times, Australasian Legal Business

Reports of the death of the billable hour may be premature


Revenge of the client, Australasian Legal Business

In-house lawyers are under-resourced, under pressure to cut external spending and looking for better value from law firms. And it may well be specialist firms that stand to benefit most.


Lawyers fees rise during GFC, Business Day

Lawyers came through the recession with record earnings but could yet suffer a delayed hit as clients look for ways to cut costs.


The Impact of law firm branding, Bulletproof blog interview, by Larry Smith of Levick Strategic Consulting

Extended interview into law firm branding which has uncovered some startling statistics about how corporate clients perceive their legal services providers.

(Richard Levick, based in Washington DC and a world leader on legal and crisis communications, was named to the list of The 100 Most Influential People in the Boardroom - a ranking compilied by the National Association of Corporate Directors and Directorship Magazine. The list includes such leaders in their fields as Mary Shapiro, Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett.)


Law firm branding - the client perspective, NZ Lawyer

Lawyers can radically reposition their brands by transitioning from a strong client focus to a more powerful client perspective.


Branding dilemmas befuddle law firms, National Business Review

According to the research produced in the metrics-laden Benchmarking Report, law firms have some major branding issues.


Lifting the General Counsel brand - how do you rate? NZ Lawyer

Lessons from the CFO. Lawyers adding strategic value can take the test to see how they help advance the GC brand.


The GC brand, National Business Review

"Clear imperative for GCs to break away from the perception of being just the lead lawyer. The first step, surely, is to make the investment in the [Benchmarking Report] (rather than seeing it as a cost) and reap the benefits of what is undoubtedly the most extensively researched material of its kind ever undertaken. Cheap at many times the price..."


Time for General Counsel to stop talking and take action, NZ Lawyer

Key findings and action points from a comprehensive new benchmarking report and a clear and detailed picture of the current state and future direction of in-house practice.


Only one ranking matters when it comes to a survey, The Australian

The Legal Department Benchmarking Report's results are the most honest and unbiased of any conducted in the law firm ranking business, according to Australasian legal marketing expert Trish Carroll.


The legal A-Team, Business Day

In-house lawyers working for some of New Zealand's biggest corporates and government departments have drawn up an "A team" of external law firms and lawyers they rate as the country's best.


Hourly fee lives on, National Business Review

The death of the hourly fee may be delayed.


Report shows big firms' fees under scrutiny, LawTalk

Unwelcome news for big law firms as companies and governmnet agencies look for new ways to save on legal costs.


Mid-tier lawyers join the A-team in force, The Australian

A survey of leading general counsel has identified 109 lawyers who have been nominated by their clients as the nation's best.


TABLE: How the law firms rate, The Australian 


Level playing field as smaller firms push into top rankings, The Australian

Size, national reach and the much-vaunted cast of thousands is no longer a guaranteed measure of success when clients are increasingly concerned to secure the most cost-effective representation.


General Counsel vote their best lawyers, The Australian   AUDIO 

Chris Merritt interviews Team Factors' Director Ron Pol


Robert Sawhney blog (SRC Associates, Hong Kong)

Alternative fees and legal services value in Aust & NZ


Three-way focus the strategy behind Maddocks's success, The Australian

After outshining some of its larger competitors in a survey of general counsel, mid-sized firm Maddocks revealed its strategy.


Billable-hours charging model in decline says Maddock's chief, The Australian

Twenty-five percent of the firm's work is coverded by alternative fees; in five years' time it is expected to be 60-70 per cent.


Decline of collegiate culture driving lawyers to mid-tier firms, The Australian

Chris Merritt interviews ANZ General Counsel Bob Santamaria


Big law big trouble, National Business Review 

New report "contains a wealth of information on how legal services providers, both inside and outside... can cut costs and generate greater efficiencies: indeed build a better relationship between client and firm."


Size of legal fee does matter: clients, The New Lawyer 

Optimal outcomes and value for money are more important than hourly rates; but overall a better understanding of client needs is critical, particularly as legal departments reducing their cost base have a direct impact on the revenue base of many firms.


New report reveals extent of cost cutting, The New Lawyer

An extensive new report contains unwelcome news for big law firms as government and corporate clients look for ways to cut costs. It also reveals differences between cost pressures, and savings already achieved, in New Zealand and Australia.


Corporates could halve their legal costs by outsourcing less, ALB

An effective outsourcing strategy can involve outsourcing less, or more, depending on the ideal mix of 'legal strategist' and 'legal technician' roles inside and outside.


Bad news for big firms, LawFuel

Corporate law report carries some unwelcome news for large law firms.


Big firms' share of work about to shrink, The Australian

For big law firms, the benchmark study for corporate lawyers in Australia and New Zealand contains some chilling news


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