Lawyers at firms that topped the work/life balance league reported of office hours that allowed them to see daylight, flexible working and (shocking) a life outside of law.

Bristows (90%) took joint-first place. A junior lawyer said that the firm "respected employees getting out of the office to meet life plans" and that there was no "presenteeism". A trainee confirmed that "we're never expected to take work home" and "partners will encourage you to leave the office if you're there later than necessary." As well as sociable office hours, Bristows was also praised for its agile working. "I work a four day week" said a senior lawyer, who explained "it's a genuine four day week, not 'five days in four'. I don't even check emails when I'm not in the office." 

This was also the case at joint-first Mills & Reeve (90%) where a partner said "I can be a partner and still work four days a week". The firm's flexible approach was evident, as one employee recalled that when her son fell ill in Spain she worked from Madrid for a couple of weeks until he could leave hospital. Another lawyer praised the firm for its support in allowing remote working, which in her case meant "from Scotland". As for manageable hours, a junior lawyer revealed that this was due to "less admin" than at other firms, as well as a refreshingly low number of "pointless meetings about nothing".  

At Bird & Bird (88%) a senior lawyer said that although the reality was that "some late evenings are required" this was "often balanced out so you can leave early the following day". A junior lawyer agreed that while staff "worked hard enough" to earn their crust, they weren't "abused for it". 

work life table

"Of course, there are times when the call of duty takes over" said a junior lawyer at Bristol firm Osborne Clarke (85%) "but this is rare and people respect your commitments". He added "the firm encourages you to have a life outside of work". A partner said that while they work hard, "there is no face time" and "as a parent of young children, I'm home by 6ish most nights to do bathtime", but can "log on later" if required. 

"People's outside interests and family commitments are given consideration and treated fairly" said a senior lawyer at TLT (84%). A partner said that "despite being shacked to the chargeable hours wheel, the firm does allow fee earners to have a life". 

"The firm has embraced agile working" said a junior lawyer at RPC (82%) "which has been useful on the occasions where I have been working beyond 7/8pm". A junior lawyer said that while inevitably there could be periods of long hours, the extent was "not bad at all considering its a City firm". Another employee praised the firm for reasonable hours which were "much better" than the Magic Circle firm that they used to work at.

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