King & Wood Mallesons has come bottom in the Australian Firm of the Year Survey 2014. RollOnFriday can reveal that the firm scored an unimpressive overall score of just 38% (in contrast to our winner which scored 98%) making it the deserving winner of this year's Golden Turd.

It’s almost been a 180 degree shift for the Asia-Pacific powerhouse which last year scored well bringing it within the top 5. So where did it all go wrong?

Well King & Wood Mallesons is one the largest law firms in the 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. Last November it merged with UK firm legacy SJ Berwin, and as one lawyer puts it they “gave away the best brand in Australia for no return”. Ouch. 

Respondents are unhappy about pay cuts - giving the firm a dismal 38% for wedge. Openness was also panned, as was advancement. One senior associate grumbled about the firm promoting on the basis of “whose face fits”. Chinese strategy has been described as a "disaster" and one lawyer claimed that "partners are jumping ship almost every week".

  A KWM partner yesterday

After probing RollOnFriday for a breakdown of the results, a spokeswoman has so far not confirmed where it would like its Golden Turd delivered.


Second from bottom is US headquartered firm K&L Gates. Its Australian offices didn’t fare well with an overall score of 42%. Respondents complained about the communication and openness (or lack thereof) and the firm scored an all time low of 25% in this category. The ladies toilets also got a bashing for “skid marks in the ladies toilets. Constantly.”. Ni-ice.

Last year’s golden turd winner, HWL Ebsworth, came in third from bottom. It improved on last year’s score of 41% with an overall score of 47%, though there’s still complaints about the heavy focus on lateral hires and “lack of transparency”.
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