Walker Morris was unique amongst the major firms in Leeds in that it rigidly refused to contemplate anything other than a single-site existence. And it can't be said that this approach did it any harm, as it has consistently been one of the most profitable firms in the country. True, in 2018 it took office space in Edinburgh. But it was only for one partner to use to service the firm's Scottish clients.
The partners traditionally have taken home far more than their competitors at decent, mid-sized City practices. This is partly because there aren't that many of them - the firm has a reputation for being highly restrictive as to whom they let into the inner sanctum of the equity partners. Some argue that their (constant) profitability is symptomatic of high leverage and bulk litigation rather than real growth. But then with those at the top making more than £850,000 a year, the partners aren't complaining either way.
What about the firm's (almost) single office policy? Well, as the other major regional players scrambled to set up offices in London, Europe and beyond, the firm calmly pointed out that there was plenty of high quality work to be had in Leeds. And then set about proving it beyond doubt. Not that the policy has stopped it from acting for clients from further afield - it is regularly instructed by Gap and Debenhams and undertakes all European work for Caterpillar (tractors and shoes).
The firm is also well-respected for its national PFI and real estate work. If you're a committed to a future in Leeds and reckon you're good enough to crowbar your way into partnership in the future, this might be the place for you. Those who'd at least like the option of working elsewhere and a greater chance of equity at the end of it would be better off applying to less narrowly-focused rivals.
There have been "massive improvements over the last three years" at the Leeds-based firm, said a junior solicitor. A senior solicitor said there were "some really good forward-thinking people here". But "also a lot of backward old codgers" who "really need to walk away and take a long overdue P&O cruise". Imbued with a "deep ingrained resentment of anything that originated south of Sheffield", and taking into account "the horror stories we hear from London", it was, said a lawyer, "actually quite a good place to work".
In 2019/20, a paralegal highlighted "The repeated long hours for no overtime" and "the expectation to stay late even when you are not able to actually contribute anything to the matter at hand". Other insiders praised the "shiny new office" which "when everything works" are "very nice to work in". The office socials "are particularly good", apparently, and even better "and the bill is pretty much always picked up by the firm/partners - supporting a 'work hard, play hard' mentality".