Your idols in 2023.
With the Best Law Firms to Work At 2023 in the can, it’s time to recognise some of the more eye-opening insights provided by respondents in a glittering, virtual, textual ceremony with no guests or host or actual prizes, and where, it should be noted, the comments do not represent the majority view, except when they do.
Scariest Plugholes – SPB
“Feels like Pennywise the Dancing Clown, and I'm Georgie.”
Best Microdosing – [redacted]
“The toilets continually breakdown and the facilities are grim. The office manager is delusional and spends more time putting posters of rabbits around the building.”
Most Alpha - DWF
"Sir Nigel Knowles is the Erling Haaland of law firm management; a top performer everywhere he goes, fixated on success and exists on a diet of raw meat.”
Lowest Bar – Winckworth Sherwood
“I’ve been at firms where I got sworn at, told that all associates should be shot and been groped by partners. Here I feel safe and valued.”
It’s What They Would Have Wanted Award - MWE
“We voted on meeting room names and they include Bowie and Pankhurst.”
Problem Solved Award – Goodwin Proctor
“The toilets in the spillover office space reeked so strongly of piss you could have cut your way through it with a machete. Building management (tbf, not anything to do with the firm) started by flatly denying there was a problem, before admitting it was a problem on every floor, and that it was because the men's urinals didn't flush. They have since installed an air purifier.”
Very Hungry Centipede Award – Womble Bond Dickinson
“The proposed Wombles merger with BDB Pitmans is rather like the Human Caterpillar… nobody wants to see it happen apart from those in charge.”
Most Culty Partner – Mills & Reeve
“We really do Achieve More. Together.”
Best Disguise – US firm
“I am very happy with salary. I can afford a cheeky Nandos (on the sly - don't tell anyone, but I sometimes take an Addleshaws umbrella so that I can eat spicy chicken, chips and macho peas incognito. Then afterwards I usually grab a quick bellini in Mayfair to wash down the poulet, and let the umbrella see a place it usually never would).”
Crappest Superpower – Macfarlanes
“I get a static shock from all the taps. Now I have a complex.”
Mount Olympus Award - Covington & Burling
“Highest law firm in the city, we literally look down on Freshfields in 100 Bishopsgate.”
Cheeriest View – Irwin Mitchell
“IM London is a hollow slough of despair for anyone hoping to stake their claim in corporate law. The London office even has high-backed chairs pointing out at the windows so we can look on despondently at much smaller City firms who get the decent work for which we get overlooked.”
Vogue Award for Glamour – Latham & Watkins
“The loos must be the worst in the city - always stink of shit and piss.”
Best Quiet Quitter – BCLP
"Before the compensation changes, I was working through lunches and working late. I found it hard to switch off before starting it all again the next day. Since the news I have worked within my hours and taken lunch breaks. I don’t feel I owe BCLP any more than that. I sleep better and I get as much work done as possible - the rest is their problem.”
Best Non-Quitter – SPB
“I'm worried the partner I work for will give me a negative reference to stop me leaving and tell me ‘Listen to me, you stupid little runt. I OWN YOU. You're my BITCH! So don't walk around here thinking you have free will because you DON'T. I can break you anytime I want!’"
Best Testimonial – Knights
“I would sooner trust a fart after a dodgy curry then trust the management team at Knights.”
Most Accurate Portrayal of Law Firm Culture – DLA Piper
“Sometimes it exists, sometimes you are a sad potato.”
Most Dubious Claim – Keoghs
“Several fee earners have left the firm to work in McDonalds and Morrisons because, as one put it: ‘the pay is better and I don’t have to deal with this shit on a daily-basis!’”
Best Solicitoring – Dentons
“I've become incredibly good at copy-pasting other peoples' work into another document and formatting the margins of said document so they are all aligned.”
T&A Award for Progress – [redacted]
“One positive is that the M&A team are no longer ranking the female juniors and trainees based on their breast size.”
Memorialising Mussolini Memorial Prize – Trowers & Hamlins
“For Remembrance Day, there was a v short note on the intranet remembering '’all those who lost their lives in combat''. Just bad phrasing perhaps, but I don't want to honour the Russian army, Isis or the nazis.”
Hands Across The Water Award – WFW
“Management needs to get a firm grip on the a-holes in the Singapore office and strangle them with it.”
Best Self-Perception – Osborne Clarke
“There’s literally only two actual c**ts I can think of in the firm. And they know they’re the c**ts too.”
Most Loyal Employee – CMS
“I've actually turned down £30k increases to stay in my current role because of all the good things the firm is doing.”
Instagram Award sponsored by PRIME energy drinks - Shakespeare Martineau
“You see the same people posting a picture of a branded fucking spoon saying how wonderful life is. I feel like I am losing my mind. It's no longer a law firm. It's a tool for people to get likes on their socials.”
Best Pros and Cons – Sidley Austin
“The fact pay goes up in September, three months earlier than other US law firms like Kirkland is a massive perk often overlooked… the water tap is indeed painfully slow still.”
Bernard Manning Memorial Prize – Horwich Farrelly
“It’s like being a battery chicken churning out stock defences. If I was an animal the RSPCA would be involved.”
Bluntest Refutation - Knights
"As the ex-COO put it: ‘You can’t describe Knights’ culture, it just is’. Actually Richard, I can describe it, it’s shit."
Shortest Breath - Ince Gordon Dadds
“Donnie Brown and Jennette Newman are a breath of fresh air.”
Best Appraisal – [redacted]
“I expressed some concerns that work was drying up and no partners were getting business in only to be met with one of the two partners appraising me slamming the table, hurling a notepad at the wall and calling me an ungrateful c*nt. The other partner had to lead him away and promptly sent an HR representative to ensure that I was not going to sue them.”
Harshest View from Steerage - Slaughter and May
“The lawyers are on the whole ghastly, but since they're so hopeless at social interactions you can easily avoid them.”
Eeyore Award for Low Self-Worth - Clyde & Co
“I'm support staff, we aren't involved in the 'culture' other than as fungi. Cheap, replaceable fungi.”
Brian Blessed Award for Volume – Shearman & Sterling
“I THINK WE SHOULD MOVE OFFICES AS OUR BUILDING IS FALLING APART AND NEEDS DOING UP BADLY. MAYBE MOVE TO BISHOPSGATE (MORE MODERN BUILDING WITH A ROOF TERRACE).”
Best Squid Game – Kirkland & Ellis
“My team is led by a huge narcissist who enjoys nothing more than pitching associates against each other in a version of the Hunger Games played by neurotic blobs in expensive shoes.”
Not Angry Just Disappointed Award – Travers Smith
“True feedback can be lacking. The traditional *silence* is probably how you know you're not doing well at something.”
Best Soundtrack - TLT
It would be nice if the ‘no smoking’ alarm didn't go off in the toilets every time someone lets out a fart.
Best Partnership Teamwork - Howard Kennedy
“They are like a pack of very fat wolves - useless, slow old dogs on their own, but capable of being really vicious when they get together and attack.”
Double Take Award – Eversheds Sutherland
“The whole ‘killer building’ thing has been resolved.”
Best Traitor Award – [redacted]
“We are under so many SRA investigations I've lost count. I am very assiduous at reporting it every time I spot non-compliance.”
Freudian Slip Award – Linklaters
“Each group runs like a mini-empire without any impotence to improve.”
Best Manager – Howard Kennedy
“He asks associates and even partners to be ‘in-house counsel’ to him (by which he means he copies-and-pastes your advice into an email to the client and never lets you speak to the client direct).”
Blinking Man Meme Award - SPB
“I’d describe the culture to be like a room with a bunch of people in it and a dead body with a slit throat, everyone grimaces and complains about the smell and the sight of it; a senior-looking older person tells a younger person to put a cloak over it and drag it to the corner. The senior person then lets out a gigantic sulphuric fart and shouts, ‘All better now, happy Monday everyone, back to work!’”
Best Office - Keoghs
“Like a 1970’s hotel in Turkey. With Bolton weather.”
Best Amenities – Mishcon de Reya
“The building is lovely but being straddled by Ladbrokes and Wetherspoons does detract a little from the overall look.”
Recipient of the Annual RollOnFriday Apology – Hogan Lovells
“They have now put some kind of horrible 'privacy screen'-type material on the glass on the entire of the Shoe Lane side of the building (instituted following the Irwin Snitchell debacle), which really diminishes the natural light.”
Hard Times Award – Clifford Chance
“We are moving to the wallowing craphole of the City - CC is noted for its amazing facilities - well in four years’ time we will be like any other, or probably on a par with a silver circle firm!”
Best Perk – Addleshaw Goddard
“Free £1.80 credit towards breakfast IF you get there before 08:30.”
Full Belly Award - Latham & Watkins
“As someone who has benefitted from the ‘pay war’ over the last few years, I truly hope it is now over. We are paid exceptionally well (both in absolute terms and relative to other City jobs); anything more is completely unjustified.”
Best Maternity Policy – [redacted]
“When I announced I was pregnant I was told by a colleague openly in a team meeting that I was a 'part timer' and they hoped I would enjoy my 'nine month holiday.' The partners actually laughed.”
Shots Fired Award – Hogan Lovells
“Looking forward to moving to the other side of the viaduct. The smell of Irwin Mitchell wafting over Shoe Lane is getting unbearable. It brings the whole neighbourhood down.”
Best/Bist/Bost Award – Burness Paull
“Constantly exhorting everyone to ‘be kind’ and put their pronouns in signature blocks. If people can't tell that Jane is a female name, there's no helping them.”
All An Act Award – Mishcon de Reya
“Having been a lateral hire I was braced for everyone to be a diabolical arsehole, which is what some of their litigators’ letters would have you believe. Instead the office is filled with friendly, level-headed, compassionate and funny people.”
Best Away Day - Weightmans
“We were made to stand up and cheer the firm’s logo.”
Top Snob (Runner Up) – Travers Smith
“Six people sharing an office the size of my bedroom. I’m currently sat at a desk that would previously only have been used in a pinch for someone like a vacation schemer.”
Top Snob (Winner) – Plexus
“Attended summer party - demographic of the new intake looked like the case of Love Island - clearly cheap labour.”
Trading Places Award – Kennedys
“Over 8 years pqe at a regional office and I could earn more quitting and taking a role as a NQ in our London office.”
Most Likely Upcoming Tribunal (Highly Commended) – Baker McKenzie
“The partner I work for has a habit of making lewd jokes and commenting about what I wear.”
Most Likely Upcoming Tribunal - Gateley
“I worked alongside a particularly unpleasant partner who would continually make sexist remarks about the other paralegals and trainees. It was really vulgar stuff, but as he brought in decent fees, management never really addressed it. He’s still working here and still making the same disgusting comments.”
Strongest Tagline – Kirkland & Ellis
“People can sneer at our approach but the results are clear. Dollah dollah bills yo.”
Best Women’s Loos – Travers Smith
“There is a new bonus plan which I'm quite pleased with but I don't think most of the associate base are happy. This was most potently expressed by the existence of a turd in the urinals in the bathroom on our floor on the afternoon following the firm wide announcement!”
Tony Soprano Therapy Prize – Knights
“Being forced to sing along to Bon Jovi at the whole firm away day has scarred me forever. I don’t suffer with anxiety, but I only need to hear the opening bar from “It’s My Life” and my nervous system triggers a fight or flight response.”
Phallic Trophy for Body Shaming – [redacted]
“The managing partner is quick to claim credit for two years of record growth without having done anything to achieve it other than running round shouting ‘profitable revenue growth...I want more profitable revenue growth’, whilst sporting a hard on with ‘Corporate Tech is the only sector that matters’ tattooed on his tiny appendage.”
The Pagliacci Prize - Knights
“A clown with its cock out could do better.”
The Gosford Park Award – [redacted]
“In the minutes of one of our social mobility group's meetings (available for all to read on the intranet) it says that we shouldn't target poor schools for engagement because the kids there are less likely to ‘have what it takes’ to become lawyers.”
Zen Award – White & Case
“It seems like the office is in a generalised state of panic where everything needs to be urgent when in fact all one needs to do is take a deep breath and remember that we aren't performing open heart surgery here.”
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Howard Kennedy - are they still around? I thought they'd vanished after merging with another west end outfit.
Telling that there are no comments re R&G. Is ROF going to call out the recent stealth layoffs?
Love the 70s hotel in Turkey with Bolton weather comment.
Hilarious. Also not true. I’ve been to Keoghs in Bolton and it is nowhere near as nice as a 3* hotel in Turkey from 1978.
Hogan Lovells and Irwin Mitchell - the feud continues. You could call it "Two Households, Both Alike in Dignity", but not really. One's a respected international law firm with some great people. The other's the country's largest high street firm staffed by Love Island reject button pushers in such towering city centre locations as Newbury, Sheffield, Chichester and Gatwick.
Arrogance plus ineptness = Wombles BDB found their culture toxic just in time and humiliated them spectacularly at the alter
I recognise the feeling behind the quote from the BCLP person (Best Quiet Quitter).
I sweated blood for over 10 years in a business support role, performed well and got several promotions ultimately getting to a senior role and was responsible for shepherding a couple of teams through the takeover (ahem, I mean merger). All that commitment meant nothing as I was pushed aside (and out) with the role finally moving to the US. I got no support from the partners and managers I’d hitched my wagon to either. A once great firm like BLP reduced to rubble by McKinsey and naive UK leadership.
@popcorn - IM is in a city centre location but it definitely isn't Gatwick which is just an airport. No it's the exclusive town of Crawley. Right slap bang in the middle. Not even on the outskirts in one of the business parks (which would be considerably nicer). Apparently referring to the office location as "Gatwick" sounds better than Crawley but I pity those international clients that the firm supposedly serves who swoop into Gatwick Airport and expect to be ushered into IM's plush offices on the doorstep of the airport.
DWF - raw meat. Not sure a food standards agency test has been done and it’s anything other than reformed putrefied offal. The rubine red is off colour, the value is sinking and just how many external advisory concubine positions can you have before you shoot blanks rather than hoops. Snige less the grey fox more Dickinson’s unreal leathery deal who long ago walked up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire put his teeth in sterident and turned off the light.
No Del Monte award for the plentiful bounty of Granny Smiths and conference pears rolling around at you know where?!
@Del Monte - no award in your name - we don’t need to worry about the negatives - you’re doing a great job as part of oneteam
Who is the clown referred to in the Pagliacci Prize?
Don’t worry ROF I’ve seen may pennywises…it’s not limited to one individual 🤡
One Team sold their shares and made loads of money whilst the other team (who didn’t know there was a profits warning coming) didn’t, and lost loads of money.
Singing along to Bon Jovi was not as bad as being touched by a colleague or being forced to touch a different colleague. I have been mentally scarred by the experience. It was just creepy and sums up just how clueless the management board is.
It’s a shame there isn’t an award for crashing your own share price through moronic management decisions.
Why is DWF’s share price going down the toilet then? It’s not looking like success from where I’m sitting.
@Knight Rider - I propose we call it the Ski Sunday award 😂
The takeover of BLP by BC was never going to produce a nice warm spooning and a satisfying reach-around. BC was always going to show its true colours and intentions and BLP management was always going to show how weak they were.
And for those who assisted in the takeover but then suffered from its implementation remember one thing: you lay with dogs you get fleas.
Makes me really sad to read how much sexism women experience