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Aussie Firms

King & Wood Mallesons

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Asia-Pacific powerhouse King & Wood Mallesons is one of the largest law firms in the Asia Pacific region, and legacy Mallesons is also one of the oldest. Its history stretches back to 1832, when 25 year-old Londoner Alfred Brooks Malleson borrowed the princely sum of £10 from his uncle to set up his own law firm in Melbourne.

Since those early days, the firm has grown into a commercial behemoth boasting over 2,000 employees, of which 1,030 are lawyers. It set up shop in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Canberra, Hong Kong, Beijing, London and Shanghai, and also has an associated office in Papua New Guinea.  And it boasts a pretty impressive client roster including the likes of Westpac, Suncorp, the Westfield Group and Chevron.

KWM has also done its bit to look innovative. It was the first Australian firm to offer 14 week’s paid parental leave to staff members and it was amongst the first to be accredited as a FairTrade workplace. In transparency terms too, the firm is keen to pave the way. The board made the unusual decision to open its books to the public in an effort to show clients how it’s performing. Although this transparency does not always seem to extend to its employees, with complaints about stealth layoffs and unclear salary structures.

Legacy Mallesons twice attempted to merge with Clifford Chance, in 1999 and again in 2008, but both attempts failed and the firm seemingly abandoned its UK aspirations. In November 2011, it announced its merger with Chinese firm King & Wood, the first ever Sino-Australian law firm tie-up. The union was formalised in March 2012 (accompanied by an exciting hoverbike-based branding campaign), with the new 380 partner firm now operating under the name King & Wood Mallesons. The tie-up (operating under a Swiss Verein model) has hugely boosted the firm’s Asian footprint and many believed at the time that this union was the first step towards the ultimate goal of merging with a US or UK firm. And indeed it was, as 31st July 2013 saw it announce a tie-up with UK firm SJ Berwin.

The pseudo-merger completed on 1 November 2013, when SJ Berwin's 165 partners and 346 lawyers subsumed into KWM to form a mammoth 30-office firm comprising over 2,700 lawyers and headquartered in Asia. SJ Berwin has agreed to take the name "King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin" on a temporary basis, with that old-fashioned SJ Berwin bit to be dropped in due course. The arrangement is not a full merger because KWM of that Swiss Verein, meaning SJB will join as a financially independent branch of the firm alongside the existing Hong Kong, Chinese and Australian units.


Salary (Graduate): $67,000
Salary (NQ): $70,000
Salary (1PQE): $74,000
Salary (2PQE): $81,000
Salary (3PQE): $102,000
Salary (Salaried partner):

Bonus Scheme

Bonus scheme: No
Typical bonus as % of salary
- NQ: %
- 1PQE: %
- 2PQE: %
- 3PQE: %
- 4PQE: %
- 5PQE: %
- Partner: %


Grant for GDL:
Grant for LPC:
Training places per year:
% of trainees retained: %

RollOnFriday Firm of the Year Scores

Salary: 41%
Development: 49%
Work/Life: 54%
Openness: 54%
Biscuits: 61%
Toilets: 61%
Social: 73%
Firm of the year overall score: 51%


Holiday allowance: Unknown
Flexi holiday:
Pension: Unknown
Maternity policy: Unknown
Target hours: Unknown
Childcare vouchers:
Gym: Unknown
Restaurant: Unknown
24 hour photocopying support:
24 hour secretarial support:
Other: Unknown


News Stories

Shafted KWM staff win £1m employment tribunal claim
After ignoring legal advice, gamble pays off ... read more > (5 comments)
KWM partners call each other ****s in emails sent to entire firm
"See you next Tuesday" ... read more > (3 comments)
KWM Europe unable to pay its staff
Who resort to raiding the firm's freezers ... read more > (6 comments)
KWM Europe faces oblivion after partners decide not to save it
Merger now the last hope as RollOnFriday launches rescue-a-trainee appeal ... read more > (13 comments)
KWM partners asked for £14m and a lock-in to save the firm
They have a week to look down the back of the sofa ... read more > (6 comments)
Windsurfing QC runs for the top job at troubled KWM
Poisoned chalice ... read more >
KWM left rudderless after trio of senior resignations
If one is unfortunate and two is careless, then three ... read more > (5 comments)
Exclusive: KWM corporate lawyers jump ship in Hong Kong
Polish that Golden Turd ... read more > (1 comment)
Former KWM head launches Sydney boutique
With old KWM chum ... read more >
Australian law graduates told to look elsewhere in overcrowded job market
Post-grad law courses risen by 330% in last decade ... read more >

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