Osborne Clarke is a happy firm. It has been for years, really.
Global revenues hit €318m for 2019/20, an increase of 5% on 2018/19 and an increase of 63% over five years.
In the UK, Osborne Clarke’s revenue increased by 3% to £155m, up from £150m in 2018/19. However, UK net profit fell by 5% to £59.8m - due, it said, to significant investments within the business.
It's gone from having six offices in three countries to 20 offices over nine countries, covering Belgium, Germany, Italy, France, Hong Kong, Netherlands, Spain, the UK, and the USA.
One of OC's trump cards is that its London office (which now undertakes circa 40% of the firm's work) can outsource work to its Bristol and Thames Valley offices. These have lower costs, so the firm can turn a bigger profit: great news if you're a partner, or a Bristol-based assistant keen to do City work. And the firm's salary structure for senior assistants means that you should be appropriately paid for it.
One of the first things the previous Managing Partner Simon Beswick did was to provide a clear structure to career progression at the firm. Mid-level lawyers who've proved themselves can be promoted to associates, when they get a cash bonus, discretionary pay and a formal development programme to give them the skills they need for partnership. There's no up-or-out policy, so if you don't like the idea of sacrificing your life to the firm it's possible for you to be a long term "associate of value".
OC's headquarters have also now moved from Bristol to London, with Bristol being labelled the firm's 'home town'. This was a sensible move, as its London office continues to pull in first class work and is more and more likely to be seen on deals alongside the likes of Travers Smith and Macfarlanes.
OC continues to performs extremely well in RollOnFriday's Firm of the Year survey. In 2016 it came third, in 2017 it came second and in 2018 it won the whole thing. In 2020 it came third - a podium finisher for years, then.
The culture at Osborne Clarke is "excellent", said lawyers there, with "a strong emphasis on our well-being". And, just as importantly, said a trainee, "I usually leave no later than 6:30pm". Partners are "down to earth" and "treat everyone with respect and courtesy", said a senior associate.
There is a "sensible take on (having a) family life" at The OC, said an associate, where "I feel entirely supported in my career development". Management is dynamic, said several others, with one concluding that Osborne Clarke is "Small enough to listen, big enough to make some noise". As for "Sunday night dread", it is "actually a thing of the past - not something I ever thought I'd say".
Staff said the leadership was "friendly", "open" and "makes you feel valued". But it's a team effort, said others, and the "fab atmosphere" is helped by "having people in charge who really give a shit about the firm and its people".
NB: the salaries listed in the table are for London. You're not on quite as much in the regions. NQs in Bristol get £47k and in Reading, £50k.
A senior solicitor in the latest RollOnFriday Firm of the Year survey said OC was "unbelievably supportive and inclusive", and put a "huge focus on wellbeing". That translated into a work/life balance which allowed lawyers to "make it home for bath time with the little one most nights".
Although some couldn't get enough of their work. "I always enjoy going back to the office", said a junior lawyer. "I very rarely stay late and am rarely, if ever, disturbed at the weekend", said another solicitor. "But I'm a bit of a sadist and would prefer the odd late night here and there".
"The firm looks after it's humans first and its profit second", suggested a partner. "The people sense this and as a result go the extra mile for the firm which inevitably results in better profit. It's a virtuous circle, but the order is important because it protects the culture".
"I'd also like to note that the trainee intakes seem to have been consistently diverse over the past few recruitment cycles", said a trainee. "I'm particularly glad to see that the intake isn't solely made up of signet ring wankers who attended Oxbridge, unlike many US firms..."
Spare a thought, though, for the fellow in Reading wondering what all the fuss was about. "I receive a lot of emails about 'yoga' 'boot camp', 'the new canteen', 'the new refurb', 'mindfulness' etc", he said. "I'm yet to receive any emails about any of the above taking place in Reading. Bristol must be a ****ing Zen salon by now".
A trainee said his intake was diverse and "not made up of signet ring wankers who attended Oxbridge". A senior lawyer described the firm as "a cult", but in a good way, as "there's no-one in the office I don't like." A junior colleague noted that "bullying seems pleasantly absent, and there is little to no office politics even among the partnership (at least as far as the rest of us can tell)".
Management was “approachable, likeable and they listen”, said a member of business services. “By the way Ray Berg is still a legend”, they added. “Except for being a Spurs fan” chipped in a lawyer.
Top quality work, rapidly rising profits and an open and meaningful career structure make OC a good egg.