"I'll just put this with the others, shall I?"

Burges Salmon is officially the Best Law Firm to Work At, for the third year running.

The Bristol-headquartered firm’s staff gave such high marks that competing firms were unable to deny it the triple – although Bird & Bird and Mills & Reeve came close.

In RollOnFriday’s Best Law Firms to Work At 2024, over 8,000 people working in private practice across the UK rated their satisfaction with their pay, work/life balance, career development, management, office, and the culture at their firm.

The survey has been running for two decades and is the definitive guide to which firms are happy places to work, and which are predominantly misery machines.

This year, the large number of responses meant 72 firms passed the threshold of entries required to qualify for the survey, for which the full overall results can be found here.

At victorious Burges Salmon, partners are “really approachable”, and management is “Excellent”, giving “the impression of wanting to make the place a nice place to work”, said staff.

“We are regularly asked our opinion on key topics before firm policies are updated e.g. remote working, and those opinions seem to be taken into account”, said a lawyer.

Upper management “has a strong presence which isn't bad for a firm this size” (it was “Impressive to see the Senior Partner putting chocolate reindeer on every desk in the office last Christmas”), while leadership showing up for events, “even the NQ induction meal”, is “really positive from a junior perspective”.

“The senior partner made an effort to meet up with me prior to my start date, an actual meeting not a quick hello”, said one new Burges Salmon solicitor.

The salary isn’t stratospheric but many said it reflected a decent work/life balance. “There is no competing with the London pay levels, but the hours expected are less than London firms, which is ‘the Deal’ that Burges Salmon offer”.

And, while some lawyers said pay is prone to tapering off at senior levels, a common feature of many firms, BS salaries have “improved at a steady rate and the recent overhaul of the personal and firmwide bonus scheme has helped”, said a solicitor.

Career-wise, lots of lawyers agreed with the junior solicitor that Burges Salmon provides “a clear structure and support to get me where I want to be”.

“Generally the hours here are good, and since being qualified at the firm for three years, I think I've only had to log on at the weekend about twice”, said a solicitor on work/life balance. 

“That being said, it isn't a 9 till 5 job, and depending on your department you may have to do some later nights”.

The “annual target of 1450 hrs (reducing as you get promoted) is honestly very reasonable”, said a colleague. “Bearing in mind the nature/quality of work we do, I don't think you can expect much less. There are busy periods but it always feels appreciated.”

Appreciation is often the difference between satisfaction and dissatisfaction when a lawyer’s getting smashed with work, plus “Partners are also receptive to concerns about being overcapacity - I've never been chastised for turning down work. They also check in with you if you seem overworked or are sending emails late at night”.

“I've noticed a shift in focus on mental health too - the firm has a strong support system and partners/fee earners are honest about their own personal experiences. It feels like you are allowed to have a wobble and the firm will help you back on your feet. I have personal experience of this and feel like I would have capitulated if not for the support of my line manager and wider team", said one grateful solicitor.

As for the culture, it’s “the best I have experienced anywhere I have worked”, said a junior solicitor. “And the people make all the difference - everyone is so open and friendly”.

“Covid hit the culture, but it is coming back”, another Burges Salmoner said. Literal culture, too: “I am involved in book clubs, sports teams, and choirs within the firm. There are less Friday drinks perhaps, but there are plenty of opportunities for other activities”.

“Burges Salmon is all about the culture. It isn't just a facade and partners lead by example. It makes commercial sense - we need a USP to compete with London firms for clients and recruitment. The firm just feels like a nice bunch of driven, bright and friendly people who want good work but not at the expense of their personality”, summed up a colleague.

Roger Bull, Managing Partner at Burges Salmon, said, “To have been named the RollOnFriday ‘Best Law Firm To Work At’ in both 2022 and 2023 was great. But to find out that we have achieved this significant accolade for a third year in a row is simply tremendous. These important wins for our firm mean so much and we are thrilled, as this award gives the truest reflection of our unique positive culture at Burges Salmon”.

“The fact that the results are solely based on our employees' individual opinions makes this achievement even more meaningful. We take immense pride in this recognition, which is a testament to the commitment and passion that all of our people have for our clients, for supporting one another, and for fostering a wonderful, vibrant firm-wide culture", he said. Well done, Burges Salmon.


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ex pink fish 26 January 24 09:05

A great place to work provided you're into running, or embarrassing yourself on stage for charity.    

Anon 26 January 24 10:06

I wonder how many associates there would turn down twice the money, better work and a much more prestigious firm on their CV to work in the city?  

Same for partners.  If a big city firm came in and offered six times more money, they aren't going to turn it down are they?

WildSalmon 26 January 24 10:54

If there was ever an example of Stockholm syndrome in lawyers, Burges Salmon is it....

Sockeyed Subversive 26 January 24 11:08

For the Greater Good! 

The ol’ Salmon speciality mantra “you’ll never have it better elsewhere” still working then. 

Anonymous 26 January 24 12:06

A lot of scepticism in the comments... sad to see so many find it hard to believe it's actually possible to enjoy coming to work!

Anonymous 26 January 24 12:30

@Anon 26 January 24 10:06

As someone who has spent over a decade at BS and consistently turned down approaches to move to London, I can confirm that the answer to your question is: plenty! It’s not all about the salary you know…

Anonymous 26 January 24 12:39

@Anon 10:06 - if the double money didn't involve working double hours and relocating to London then I'm sure more would be tempted. I've worked at BS for a number of years and am largely happy there, but a decent part of why I haven't left is because I love living in Bristol and I also like seeing my spouse and children regularly. Working in the City would involve either relocating or a hefty commute, neither of which appeal, to say nothing of the additional hours which might be required.

Anon 26 January 24 12:46

Anon 26 January 24 10:06

Not really. Most people either move from the City, or have made an active choice not to work in the City. BS is a good enough name to move to most other firms so unless you have aspirations to work in specific/niche areas or for certain types of client; having a "more prestigious" name on the CV really makes little difference. Ditto the idea of people being desperate to do better work - what does that actually mean? You can work for household names on projects ranging from small to huge. Some work will be more interesting and some less; that is the same at every firm. Some people might get a kick out of working for massive global corporations on multi-billion dollar deals, others don't really care. "Better work" is subjective.

The working hours are, for the most part, very reasonable. Commutes are easy and houses prices, whilst fairly high, are still much lower than what you'd pay for a decent sized house with an equivalent commute into the City.

Pay is on paper a bit less than some firms (and obviously a lot less than US firms) but once tax and London cost of living is factored in, there really is not a great deal in it for the majority. 

The vast majority of the people are genuinely nice, approachable people - including senior management. There are very, very few dickheads. That counts for a lot.

Don't get me wrong, it is far from perfect but there isn't much to be seriously unhappy about and that's probably what keeps the response scores so high.

Anonymous 26 January 24 14:32

It's funny to see how some London cyborgs are accusing the Bristol people of being brainwashed.

How dare you want to see your partner and kids? What do you want to be home by 6 or 7 pm for?  You really think you know what "enough" is?  LOOK AT MY SALARY!!!!!  Why am I crying?

Anonymous 26 January 24 14:39

I love working in the City.  The hustle and bustle just gets me going.  Sometimes at weekends I cry for no reason.  It's great to feel so alive.  I bet you don't get that in Bristol.

Anon 26 January 24 17:24

Perhaps its possible for different people to be happy with different jobs. Maybe some people like The City and some prefer to avoid it. Maybe people in BS really do like it there and others enjoy where they work.

Anonymous 29 January 24 15:27

@Anon 26 January 24 09:36 - it may shock you to learn that not everyone wants to live in London and/or waste their time commuting in from Surrey every day. There's life outside of the City.

Alex 01 February 24 13:34

Bristol over London is a bad deal - 50% of the pay for probably 25% savings on costs (mainly property)


Boston PI Lawyer 02 February 24 00:34

Prestige doesn't pay the bills. I work for myself and have zero prestige. But I have already made $250k in fees this year on just two cases working 9-5 and doing whatever I want. Ownership is the key. 


Anon 26 January 24 10:06


I wonder how many associates there would turn down twice the money, better work and a much more prestigious firm on their CV to work in the city?  Same for partners.  If a big city firm came in and offered six times more money, they aren't going to turn it down are they?

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