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Firm of the Year 2018 Culture: 70-80%
09 March 2018
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Culture was the "key USP" of RPC (79%), said a senior solicitor. The firm landed top of the 70-80% range along with a bevy of other firms whose atmosphere was very pleasant indeed, in the main.

Everyone "does actually seem relatively normal and human", said an RPC colleague. Although a lone voice said it was "like an unholy crossover between Stepford Wives and a Chinese political re-education camp". At Charles Russell Speechlys (78%) the culture "is steadily improving", said respondents. "There's been a lot of focus on it since the merger", and "a lot of effort to try and make the CR and SB sides better friends". Although efforts "revolve around mandatory drinks on the 8th floor", said one lawyer, "whoo party(!)".  White & Case (78%) "can be very work hard play hard at times", said a junior solicitor, "but on the whole everyone is very friendly and sociable", and "there are very few psychopaths or rahs". There "isn't the same emphasis on trainee socialising as other firms", said a trainee, "but when you're working 60+ hours a week I would rather spend my spare time with my actual friends". He was thankful "there are very few individuals who go around posting pictures of the Gherkin with things like 'work hard play hard #city life'".

The culture at Linklaters (76%) was "worth being underpaid and overworked for", said a junior solicitor, but only him. "I've never met a raging hard cock", said a trainee, "just a few half masts. Everyone here is very nice and there are ample socials". The Magic Circle firm scored well, albeit second to Slaughters, with staff vouching for a "hardworking but supportive" environment. "The bonus in my department comes from the fact that it is not full of no-life psychos", said an  NQ. "Despite having an aggressive reputation, everyone is friendly" said a trainee at Kirkland & Ellis (76%). That was the majority view. "You just need to stand up for yourself".  

There was a "good culture" at Stephenson Harwood (75%), though it was "at risk of dilution" thanks to an influx of laterals. The people "are generally great", said a junior solicitor, and "the tools (of which there are only one or two weapons-grade spanners) are largely ignored". An associate's assertion that Norton Rose Fulbright (75%) was stocked with "thoroughly nice people" was echoed by fellow respondents, while senior lawyers at DAC Beachcroft (74%) referred to a "pale stale and male brigade", but said it was "slowly being moved on", and there was now "a much nicer environment". 

  Moving on the male pale & stale, yesterday. 

Clifford Chance (72%)
scored decently: it was deemed "Inclusive and diverse" and "full of driven people" by staff. "Friendly teams, if overworked", said a junior colleague. Dentons (70%) was post-culture, man. Its people "are universally nice and helpful", said a senior solicitor, but "there is no culture", said a trainee: "Dentons advertises this as a selling point, but what it means in reality is that every time you move seats it's like joining a completely different firm". "There isn't one", agreed a senior solicitor. "You're working for the largest law firm in the world (by head count) and it feels like it". "Officially, we're 'polycentric' with no firm culture", said a trainee, although "my experience so far is that the most people in the firm are very friendly". 

"Yet to work with or for anyone that I've thought 'well they're a t*at*'", said a junior solicitor at Allen & Overy (70%), "so that's got to say something". A peer has: "Every partner likes to bleat on about the monsters they once worked under, while simultaneously heaping ever higher expectations in associates. You may not be able to fill associates' offices with cigar smoke any more but the steaming turds you fling into my inbox at 2am every other day are no more fragrant". 

To give Herbert Smith Freehills (70%) credit, said a senior solicitor, "the firm is very LGBTQ and BME friendly". That was "not to say that it couldn't do with more prominent role models in those areas, but it's better than many other firms". Another senior solicitor said it had "lost some of its collegiality post-merger, and the firm has been relentless in adopting a more 'corporate' management style". But "overall it's healthy". "Anyone who uses the word 'collegiate' is a sharp-elbowed, self-serving sociopath", said a partner. Which wasn't very collegiate.

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