Back in the 90s Ashurst was seen as pretty much the best firm at which to work in the City. The cliché was that it punched above its weight, with Magic Circle quality but mid-sized training. Its crown may have slipped since then, but it remains a well-regarded firm in the City.

Like all chasing pack firms Ashurst had to make some tough decisions over its future, and there have been concerns that it hasn't been entirely focused in this. Its previous strategy was to grow organically into the leading European law firm, but it hasn’t been shy of pursuing mergers. Clifford Chance and Latham & Watkins were both rejected as suitable targets, as was Fried Frank.

The firm's ex-senior partner, Charlie Geffen, made it clear at the end of 2008 that he wanted the firm to invest further in Asia and the Middle East. Ashurst entered into an association with Hong Kong firm Jason Woo & Associates and opened an Abu Dhabi office. Then in September 2011 the firm confirmed that it would be merging with Aussie Big Six firm Blake Dawson. It went live in 2013, and BD took Ashurst's name.

So it abandoned the previous commitment to organic growth, but has the new strategy worked to make Ashurst a truly global firm? It may have lost valuable ground to its competitors whilst it was dithering, but its reputation and profits are strong and the merger with Blakes means that it will have to be taken seriously as a global competitor. 

Ashurst is predominantly a corporate and finance firm and it boasts a corporate department pretty much as good as any in the Magic Circle. Other departments are also highly regarded, particularly property, tax litigation and its international finance team. 

As for the staff's views, a senior associate decried the, "endless rounds of management consultant-driven 'strategy' navel gazing". On the other hand, "partners (in my department at least) are people I enjoy going for beers with, which is a huge plus". 

A solicitor said that pay "whilst average compared to the market, is good in light of work life balance", although of course the average length of the working day varied between departments. Others praised the "great people", with one admitting "I love my colleagues. Which is lucky as I spend more time with them than family".

The combination of top-drawer clients and the fact it is relatively small in size means that Ashurst is an excellent place to train. As in any top firm - especially such a corporate-driven one - lawyers will have to work silly hours a lot of the time, but at least it's doing big ticket work. Promotion prospects have generally been seen as reasonable.

A note of caution for interested parties, however: in the canteen, “trying to eat with the "compostable" cutlery (which melts in even tepid food) is an exercise in ritualised humiliation”.

Here's a summary of what lawyers said about their Ashurst home in RollOnFriday's Best Law Firms to Work At 2024:


NQs “keep eating my payrises". It's a common refrain at the moment among solicitors at the larger regional and City firms, where an NQ salary war has fuelled pay bunching - and resentment - among solicitors in the higher bands.

Bonuses were "weak” said staff: 2000+ hours “gets you maybe max 20% bonus”, said one lawyer.


"Fair, balanced, pretty engaged and human," was one solicitor's view of the bosses. A senior lawyer opined that while "strategy and market positioning is good, operations and IT is poor".


A senior lawyer said there was "great culture and people" and that the firmn was "genuinely warm and caring". A trainee commented: "Nothing the firm puts out about the culture is a lie".

Office and amenities

Staff were delighted with the "amazing" new office in the Fruit & Wool Exchange, which hosts summer BBQs on the roof terrace. It's the area in which Ashurst scored most highly for satisfaction.

Career development

Career progression at Ashurst “is pretty straightforward unless you screw something up”, vouched a junior lawyer, although a colleague said promotions and prospects were “very hush hush” and that people were “held back just as a way of getting them to leave”. As a strategy to jettison the unwanted, it wouldn't be unique in private practice.

Work/life balance

"It varies between teams. Some teams are really respectful that we aren't lawyers 24/7, others less so", was the consensus view.

Another acknowledged: "I'm a lawyer in Biglaw, it's not a 9-5 job, anyone else who thinks otherwise needs to get a brain scan. So long as you learn to treasure your weekends/downtime when you have it, it's all good". 


UK Offices
London, Glasgow
Non-UK Offices
Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Brisbane, Brussels, Canberra, Dubai, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Madrid, Melbourne, Milan, Munich, New York, Paris, Perth, Port Moresby, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Washington DC


1st Year Trainee
2nd Year Trainee
Profit Per Equity Partner


Target Hours
Gender Pay Gap
Health Care
Flexible Working
Maternity & Paternity Policy
20 weeks on full pay


Latest Trainee Retention Rate
Training contracts per year

RollOnFriday Best Law Firms to Work At: Ashurst’s scores

Career Development
Work/Life Balance

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