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.'

MVP 2020
'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.'

proskauer water feature lobby

Most Dick Swinging Water Feature
'There is a huge fish tank in the lobby that people in scuba gear occasionally clean.' 
(Proskauer Rose)

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.' 
(Reed Smith) 

Most Owned
'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.' 
(Quinn Emanuel)

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.' 
(Wedlake Bell)

Most Likely Never to Leave
'I'd rather be fist ****ed and lobotomised than stay.'

Angriest Male
'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)

fruit wool kurtz

Best Survey Response as a Poem by Colonel Kurtz
'non existent 
tower of piffle
nonsense on stilts
a monument to vulgarity               

the drugs             
the drugs'             

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.'  
(Blake Morgan)

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.'
(Eversheds Sutherland) 
Best Presentation
'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.' 
(Burness Paull)
Best Cleaner
'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.'
(Irwin Mitchell)

nurse ratched
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.'
(Eversheds Sutherland)

Tiniest Violin
'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.'
Best Bonus
'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.'
(WLG Gowling)

shocked crowd
Possible Sex Offence Award
'Launched our DNA this year which describes our internal culture.'
(Irwin Mitchell)

Best Mentor
'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.' 
(Jones Day)
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.' 
(Irwin Mitchell)

Best Comment from a Man
'The misogyny frat-boy culture stuff in the press is just absurd.'  
(Jones Day)
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.'
(Jones Day)

Best Leader
'[He] leads from the front, which is just as well. You wouldn't ever want him behind you where you can't see him.'
(Jones Day)
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)

Tip Off ROF


ShootyMcShootyface 21 August 20 08:57

I always have a moment of fear when I see this kind of article each year, wondering if any of the comments I made in the survey, possibly after a few ales, will be used and/ or traced back to me.

I'm loving that "own your shame" billing thing though. That should be part of the LPC (or whatever it's called now).

Anon 21 August 20 10:51

Clydes again feature badly.  
It could get a lot worse. 

BLM 2021 Olympic bid manager 21 August 20 14:15

I can feel a golden turd brewing for BLM in 2021. By then they might have no offices left to show it off in. Perhaps staff can have half a day each with it to show their neighbours. 

Lolbraham Lincoln 21 August 20 14:45

The Dechert comment gets a heh. As someone who's trained and qualified there in the same year as the "sh*tstain trainee", I can confirm that the entire London office experienced a collective wave of relief once we saw the back of him.

Anonymous 21 August 20 21:34

Sorry, Irwin Mitchell - sometimes where there's muck, there's more muck and beneath it is a pile of poo. It's such a grind trying to win any decent work and so so difficult to retain good commercial clients. They always want to nick your work and service the clients out of one of the list of places which belong in the top UK crap towns. If you let them do that, they do a terrible job and the clients never come back. 

Anonymous 21 August 20 23:43

@ "...a golden turd brewing for BLM..."

It's already been brewed. It's practically touching cloth. You can see the "if I can't find a vacant lavatory soon then I'm going to have to shit in the woods"-shaped fear in the eyes of everyone in marketing. 

Good job, BLM. What a way to spin a cashflow crisis. COVID is a blessing for firms like BLM. "It's not that we're fuc*ed financially, it's that we're so great at technology (lol) we no longer need offices or people or revenue or profit."

Snitchell 22 August 20 01:54

The PI elves want to sue your commercial clients?  It has always been the same.  The smart move is to leave whilst you still have some clients.  

Happy Camper 22 August 20 07:29

“Most Likely Never to Leave
'I'd rather be fist ****ed and lobotomised than stay.'

Surely if one of the managing partners can orchestrate an exit and clear out of the London office and head east for an easier gig in the HK office (which is an odd move to say the least) then the member of staff who submitted the quote can bail out too???

Massive toothy smiley faces all round at 15 Appold?



Anonymous 23 August 20 08:07

A partner who slapped an associate for refusing his sexual advances. Tip of the iceberg for that particular form.

BLM 23 August 20 11:00

Had anyone else bothered to read Matthew's strategic update? It's clear that comms has already given up. It's LITTERED with typos, grammatical errors, and missing words. How embarrassing.

DWFer 24 August 20 06:57

There are some for DWF but we are now too afraid to speak for fear of the huge pay cuts being imposed on the quiet across the business. Up to 25% seems common, and these are permanent not Covid temporary. Rumour has it that some in Connected Services are suffering cuts even bigger than that. Ouch. 

Anon 24 August 20 16:56

@Anonymous 21 August 20 23:43

Yes, BLM and other like firms are shamelessly playing the Covid card.

WFW played the same lame line about Covid affecting its FY despite only five weeks of lockdown in the entire 2019/2020 FY. A piss poor excuse to furlough 49 peeps then fire 50% of its PAs. That said, the management (sic) have also turned attention to some (but not all) partners by imposing substantial salary cuts on some salaried partners and equity reductions for some equity partners. Meanwhile management continue to make hay (including a nice sweetheart move to Asia for one of the managing partners). 

it is great being in a support function at a law firm ...not!!! Reminds me of the line from the song Heartland by The The: “let the poor drink the milk while the rich eat the honey; let the bums count their blessings while they count their money ...”


Connected Services Minion at DWF 25 August 20 08:17

True about DWF. It’s divide and rule. DWF keep it quiet and most staff will likely keep it quiet too. After all, who is going to want to admit they’ve had a big pay cut. Hardly marks you out valuable, or valued, a top performer or loved does it. It actually says the complete opposite and in shame people will keep quiet, helping DWF PLC with the cuts required to keep shareholders happy. It’s all about the share price and we all know it. Staff do not matter. Share price. Share price. The higher it is the more cash the big boys get when they sell their remaining shares before they exit DWF. 

Never lost... 25 August 20 10:17

Best website - Brabners' busty Russian brides / cut price Viagra advertising site. Diversifying all the time! 

Shareholders 25 August 20 12:22

Don’t work for firms that are just in it for their shareholders.  You will never be valued.  Not a smart move. 

Anonymous 25 August 20 12:30

Tbf there is a lot of deadwood at DWF that needs ridding. That includes low performing fee earners and drizzle maker partners. A certain amount of the central services needs to be gone too as all they do is have constant meetings to appear busy.

Anonymous 26 August 20 20:27

I see that I'm losing the battle of the thumbs against BLM's partners. How does it work? Do you earn an extra equity point for every thumbs down? Spoiler: there will soon be no equity to share.

Major Cat 27 August 20 16:34

BLM closing offices but they they love the bricks n mortar. Don't they have up to 4 in Manchester - Kings House, Alberton House, Cardinal House and New Bailey  - who needs agile working with all that office space for social distancing available. Get back to work those fixed fee files need managing 

The Senior Partner 27 August 20 17:56

That Farrer person is brave posting that comment. I know the staff there are made to feel the fear. of doing such a thing and IT will be trawling to see who used the site.  

Anonymous 29 August 20 12:17

Hard to feel sorry for some of them. I'm 10pqe and on 60k. They're complaining about baby food stuff and on 100k as an nq.

Anonymous 29 August 20 20:06

Agile? "Fragile" working more like. Loads of open plan hot-desking which TBH was never fit for purpose -  unless you are one of the bulk-conveyancing, debt-recovery or PI elves for whom the ability to concentrate is strictly optional.

Anon 05 November 20 12:44

Ah Jones Day. Hasn't changed a bit since I trained there. Glad to see it is still maintaining the 1980s atmosphere of boys club, boozing and sexual harrassment I came to know and love.

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