In late 2019 and early 2020 thousands of legal sector professionals took part in the RollOnFriday Firm of the Year Survey, helping to build the definitive rankings of where's decent and where’s bleak.
Lockdown gave RollOnFriday an opportunity to review respondents' comments, all 738 pages of them, and as is traditional we’ve picked out a few home truths and bon mots for accolades.
Due to the pandemic, this year’s ceremony is online only, but you still owe £1,500 for a table.
Most Honest Management
'This year we received a letter saying how 'pleased' our managing partner was to give us a 0% pay rise.'
Best Reason to Leave
'There are constant conversations about Fortnite and Fifa from the apprentice half of the firm.'
'The new head of 'Catastrophic Loss' arrives at 10am and finishes at 2pm everyday and suffice to say if he left, the loss would be far from catastrophic.'
Most Dick Swinging Water Feature
'There is a huge fish tank in the lobby that people in scuba gear occasionally clean.'
Best Silver Lining
'We have very little work for very few clients, so my golf handicap is at a record low.'
Otis Redding Memorial Prize
'We often have meetings and just watch the ships go past.'
(Norton Rose Fulbright)
First Worldiest Problem
'Plastic cutlery for four months was a struggle when the dishwashers were broken.'
Best Multi-Firm Burn
'Charges like HSF and pays like Clydes.'
'As one recruiter said a few years ago, "Wow - Quinn Emanuel! If you can survive there for at least two years, you can work anywhere." We have three levels of targets: 2100 hours, 2400 hours, and 2700 hours.'
Most Romantic Reason Not To Quit
‘My discreet liaison.'
Most Romantic Reason to Quit
'If she leaves the firm (which she might).'
Morlock Prize for Bitterness
'Fee earners given special treatment over underlings, we had to come in every day rain or shine whereas fee earners just had to roll out of bed and switch laptops on, lazy fat gits'.
(Slater and Gordon)
Best Pre-Pandemic Comment
'I never have to worry about paying the bills and already have holidays booked to Mexico, Canada and Hong Kong this year so it's obviously not all doom and gloom.'
Most Likely Never to Leave
'I'd rather be fist ****ed and lobotomised than stay.'
'Wooden floors in new office, madness as the endless line of women in their high heels come stomping past my desk, try concentrating on work with that clomping going on all day. How about a carpet? Photocopiers from 1957, shite.'
(Slater and Gordon)
Most Dedicated Honey Trap
'I'll leave the day I get sexually harassed and I get that massive pay out with a NDA. It's only a matter of time....these public school boys will eventually slip up.'
(Allen & Overy)
Best Survey Response as a Poem by Colonel Kurtz
tower of piffle
nonsense on stilts
a monument to vulgarity
The Silas Marner Prize
'The only issue is the exchange rate. Currently exchange rate is around 1.27-1.3 but we're using a 5 year average, which makes sense. This would work out at 1.361. However we're using a floor of 1.45. Which we also used last year when our 5 year average was 1.437.'
(Latham & Watkins)
Ape it to Make It Award
'The monkey puzzle tree model of management; at the top of the tree, the monkeys look down and see smiling faces. At the bottom, the monkeys looking up see arseholes.'
Most Tactful Speaker
'We had an "applied futurologist" at this year's partners conference. Mercifully he didn't give us a view on the firm's future.'
Make the Dog Smell its Mess Award
'The Cardiff office heating system is at the mercy of our landlord who is regularly paraded around the office to witness staff in coats filling hot water bottles.'
'If someone comes here and is dissatisfied with the work/life balance then I would show that person a graph on a big A1 piece of foam board with a red dot in the middle of the graph indicating the £200,000 a year base salary they are being paid at the age of 30 in a non-partner role and then I would proceed to hit that person with my graph (just once) to knock some common sense into them.'
(Latham & Watkins)
Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Dead Award
'I sometimes dream of having a massive heart attack and dying in the office, just so the management feel guilt. If they're capable of such things. Sociopaths often aren't.'
Richard Appreciation Prize
'There are still nearly as many partners called Richard as there are women partners which is unnerving.'
(Burges Salmon (actually it's 8 Richards v 20 women))
Most Beloved Columnist
'Particularly galling was a partner known for wrecking everyone else's work life balance going on secondment in Lyon and writing a three part update in the firm newsletter about how good the work life balance was.'
'The cleaner must be on some kind of shite sensor because she turns up bog brush in hand at the merest shart. Unlike my previous firm, where someone managed to heave out a bum boulder so sizeable it lingered in the pot for 5 days before someone located a suitable dredging to exorcise it.'
(Clyde & Co)
Internet Award for Trolling
'I've only been able to afford one flat since qualifying :('
(Kirkland & Ellis)
Most Plugged-in HR
'My team was competent enough to identify the toxic trainees in my intake and promptly show them the door. One sh*tstain trainee particularly stands out who was hated by almost everyone (not an easy feat at Dechert) and long in advance was told that he better pack his bags.'
Most Satisfied Employee
'If I hear another one of our puffed-up masters from Sheffield tell me "where there's muck there's brass" I will personally lamp them.'
Most Promising Amateur Psychiatrist
'I have spoken with my line manager about some of my peers in the past and in particular their mental health as I feel they need help.'
'Partner starting salary of £110k is abysmal.'
(Farrer & Co)
Best Glengarry Glen Ross Tribute
‘The worst thing is when poor saps are made to stand up and confess how they’ve failed to bill a file properly in a kind of Alcoholics Anonymous confession session.'
Plain English Award
'Poor decision to promote the litigation partner who used to stick post-it notes saying "Fuck off I'm busy" to her door.'
Most Cancellable View
'My opinion will undoubtedly not be very popular at all among my peers, but I think we're paid TOO much. Come on, which NQ is really worth £100,000?'
Best Workplace Atmosphere
'The whole office is a sweating dungeon of demented morlocks screaming for air and water. It reminds me of the scene from Watership Down when a rabbit warren is gassed and bull dozed and you see their terrified faces strain to the surface, howling in mortal pain.'
'One partner got us a creme egg one Easter to thank us for all the hard work and midnight finishes. It was a full size creme egg though.'
Possible Sex Offence Award
'Launched our DNA this year which describes our internal culture.'
'I'm here now filling this in at 9.30pm as a break from the work I have to get done overnight before the partner arrives in the morning - about 10am, as he usually goes for breakfast at his club - when he will change the reference to his and send it onto the client without reading it.'
With Pals Like These Award
'When I go out with friends at other City outfits they do a mocking whip-round for me at the bar.'
Best Comment from a Man
'The misogyny frat-boy culture stuff in the press is just absurd.'
Best Comment from a Woman
'There is a lot of boundary-testing by senior men at Jones Day, although the walrus partner who tried it on (unsuccessfully) with me has been washed out to sea now, thank fuck.'
'[He] leads from the front, which is just as well. You wouldn't ever want him behind you where you can't see him.'
Most Prominent Complaint
'People sit all day in their coats and scarves with hot water bottles and blankets around their legs. My nipples are like bullets from the moment I go in.'
Best Attempt at Gen Z Translation
'If I had some emojis to describe it then I would use [champagne bottle emoji] [face with $ for eyes emoji] [hand emoji] [aubergine emoji] [water spray emoji]'
(Latham & Watkins)
The Charles Rusell Speechly Award
'Everyone spells the name wrong.'
(Charles Russell Speechlys)