Gilbert + Tobin is RollOnFriday's Australian Firm of the Year 2010 with an impressive 84% overall score.

Whilst UK lawyers might be more concerned with simply keeping their jobs, in Australia it's the dollars that seem the most important factor. However, while Gilbert + Tobin has always topped the RollOnFriday survey for pay (getting a whopping 98% on this occasion), this year it also came first for its handling of the downturn and scored well both for promotion of talent and for the overall treatment of its staff. Many respondents commented on the "great salaries", but others added that "the firm genuinely cares for its staff" and has "excellent lawyers". Plus "good looking staff", apparently, which is nice.

Gilbert + Tobin's closest rival was Sydney firm Henry Davis York. Making it onto the RollOnFriday Firm of the Year survey for the first time, HDY won praise for its "positive culture", "generous study / leave allowances" and "commitment to developing and promoting its staff". It also has the best biscuits in the Southern hemisphere with an impressive score of 93%.

    Show me the money! A Gilbert + Tobin lawyer yesterday. 

Last year's winner, Lavan Legal, slipped to third place - probably because staff were too busy zipping about in the firm's Mini Cooper and working out with their subsidised personal trainers to bother filling in the form. Those that did however, praised the stafff benefits, the firm's work / life balance and the free breakfasts. It's not all a bed of roses: some staff felt that management were "not too good at keeping all staff informed", partners were "slow to supply feedback" and there was too much "emphasis on billable hours" for the more senior staff. Still, the delivery by the firm at Christmas of a new van to the local homeless shelter won major points.

HWL Ebsworth fell from third-from-bottom last year to the bottom bottom this year. It scored a miserable 19.6% overall with its lawyers having absolutely nothing good to say about it. Its woeful pay came in for a particular kicking, with a score of just 6.25%. One commentator pointed out that "despite making a record profit for the 2008 / 2009 financial year, the firm froze salaries knowing its staff would not be able to jump ship in protest".

See the full results here.
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