Otherwise it was delightful.
“What office. What amenities. It’s a WeWork.”
Squire Patton Boggs has the most unsatisfactory office in UK law, according to the huge RollOnFriday Best Law Firms to Work At 2023 survey.
It’s largely because the firm doesn’t really have one - it is currently using a WeWork next door to its old building.
SPB only occupied Premier Place on Devonshire Square for a couple of years before it was required to get out by the end of November. There’s disagreement over how much choice the firm had in the matter.
“The office at Two and a Half Devonshire Square in London was actually quite decent” said a junior solicitor. “The beastly seventh floor phantom shitter would absolutely demolish the khazis on occasion, but the cleaning staff were on it”, they said.
However, “the partnership in its wisdom decided to grab cash by terminating our lease early” when Jane Street Capital, the building’s anchor tenant, exercised an option to take occupation of the whole building. It “paid them big bucks, us gimps getting zilch of it as per”, said the lawyer, and “we will soon have no office for months in the near future. Clients, take heed: SQUIRE PATTON BOGGS IS A LEADING LAW FIRM.”
Now SPB is at WeWork while new premises at 60 London Wall are fitted out. The chopping and changing earned it a lowly 35% from respondents rating their satisfaction with their office and amenities.
“We'll likely be in a shipping container by summer 2023”, one said. “I can't answer this question without my rage boiling up”, fumed a junior SPB solicitor. One lateral hire said they felt cheated: “It is incredibly poor. They hid the open plan thing from me. It’s noisy and unworkable”.
Here’s a rundown, from worst to best, of the rest:
Despite the rancid scores, comments on the Golden Turd’s office situation weren’t uniformly critical. Yes, there were “minus points for the motion sensors under the desks” and a note from one lawyer that there was a “sewer vent outside the office front door”. But others said Governor’s House “is an improvement on Adelaide House”, and “the coffee is decent enough and the skiddies on the toilet are minimal”.
In what will be a recurring theme, one lawyer said that open plan "has been a disaster”. Referring to a recent exodus of senior lawyers at BCLP, they also complained that “the partners are never here, unless they are going to job interviews at other firms”.
The Greater Manchester firm’s office is “like a 1970s hotel in Turkey. With Bolton weather” and there are “Better loos in the local KFC”, said staff.
“I work from home in a shared house with a bin man who comes home stinking at 11am, then snores and farts for 2 hours. It’s better than going into the office”, claimed a junior lawyer.
The longterm impact of the pandemic on working patterns appears to have been accepted by employers: an unusually high number of firms are prepping new premises that better accommodate flexible working and a reduction in the number of people occupying the office at any one time.
In many cases, that has a knock-on effect on the state of the current office. There’s not much to be gained from investing in an expensive refurb when everyone’s going to be leaving in a year or so.
At Bakers, the office is “currently absolutely shit”, but only because an office move is scheduled for 2023. “Thank the lord we are moving next year”, said staff, who said the “current digs are a bit crusty”, and “dated and lacking”.
The listed firm with the cratering share price has “mostly top end grade A, albeit usually deserted” offices. For some staff, dissatisfaction with other aspects of the firm has bled into their score for the office.
“It is “The ‘Dorian Grey’ of law firms. The swanky offices…hide the real portrait of this firm: low morale, time shaming, mass staff exodus and a culture or lack thereof”, said a respondent.
Others said the offices themselves were also a façade. “Don’t be fooled by the grand exterior - the Stoke office is horrific. They promise a refurb, then along comes an acquisition and it's back to the bottom of the priority list”.
The Birmingham office “looks swanky but is embarrassingly bare” said another Knight. “There isn’t even a vending machine. For a firm that wants everyone in 5 days a week they do little to entice you to the office”.
“There’s free fruit”, offered up an employee, but “that’s the only perk we get now that our employee share save scheme is worthless thanks to the total balls up by management”.
Slater and Gordon
“No one uses it” was the overall impression from staff at the incredible shrinking PI firm. “We have gone from having 7 floors to 1!” said another Slaters lawyer. It has been shedding office space and people after deciding to pivot to a much cheaper WFH model as it faced pressures on its business model.
Those offices that it does still have don’t appear to be a huge draw. The Manchester office “is dull and dreary. Having recently spent a day or two back in the office I was inspired to not make a return anytime soon”, said a business services employee. “New office is nice but no-one turns up” said one of the few lawyers who does.
The lowest-scoring US firm qualifying for the survey has premises which “aren’t the best and lack amenities”, such as a canteen. But “at least we are moving to new offices by the end of next year”, said a Goodwin lawyer.
It means they will leave behind toilets which “wreaked so strongly of piss you could have cut your way through it with a machete”.
A junior solicitor explained that building management, rather than the firm, was responsible, having “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”.
Slaughter and May
Slaughters has opted to stay put at One Bunhill Row after toying with a move. Staff were split on whether that was the right decision, but almost unanimous on the need to spruce it up if they are sticking it out.
“There was a collective groan when they announced we'd be staying at Bunhill Row for a decade. Ugly carpets, stagnant water feature, green office doors that could've been lifted directly from the set of Holby City. Awful”, said one solicitor.
“The decision not to sign up to an exorbitantly expensive lease on new premises was a wise decision”, countered a colleague, “but some wedge now needs to be spent doing up the digs”.
The firm placed bottom of the Magic Circle for office satisfaction, with lawyers looking over enviously at their competitors’ glitzy new accommodations.
“Compared to the other MC firms who are moving/have moved to new fancy offices, it is quite embarrassing”, said a junior solicitor. “Surely giving the shop a lick of paint wouldn’t dent partner drawings all that much?” queried a lawyer.
“The office is horrendous”, said a senior solicitor: “Bathroom tiles falling apart, mould in the showers, old coffee machines in the drink pods. It's also still 'bring your own mug' which is laughable. Bowls, too. The renovation plans have also been put on hold. Every time I go to another law firm I marvel at how much nicer it is in comparison”.
“Refurbishment is now no longer a nice-to-have but an essential” insisted a senior solicitor.
“We have lost our desks to hot desking which not many people are too happy about.”
In the post-Covid world, a lot of lawyers at a lot of firms relayed similar gripes about open-plan and hot desking. Both measures are very hard for firms to resist when only a proportion of their workforces are present in the office at any one time, and the alternative is expensive swathes of prime city-centre real estate sitting empty.
“We've moved to open plan and the layout is terrible. Very little thought seems to have been given about how to arrange desks so you're not tripping over each other. Half the floor is open with no dividers so you can hear everyone's calls at once when it's busy”, complained a lawyer finding their way in the brave new office world.
A trainee was more forgiving: “There is fresh fruit, vegetables, and jars of sweets and dried fruit in every kitchenette. It almost makes up for the bad coffee and regularly broken coffee machines”.
“Birmingham is swanky; I wouldn’t kennel my dog in the remaining offices.”
Kennedys is another firm changing with the times. The London office was “shabby, but we are moving to swanky new offices” at the Walkie Talkie. Some staff are “quietly concerned” about the incoming layout. “It looks like there'll be 8 normal desks and the rest is either a glorified Costa or meeting rooms”.
Ince Gordon Dadds
Ince was planning to leave for a new office after reducing its use of expensive premises at Aldgate Tower during the pandemic, but the firm agreed an extension, pleasing quite a few respondents.
“We are staying where we are for at least 18 months, which is reassuring”, said one.
“The office itself is nothing to write home about, it’s half empty most of the time with WFH becoming the norm, but it's okay. The cafe had gone downhill and I wasn't surprised it closed”.
“I’m delighted they decided to stay. Gracechurch Street wasn’t for us. The IT is still a disaster, though, but much of that stems from the cyber attack”, a colleague said.
HFW is calling in the removal lorries this April for a move to 8 Bishopsgate. It can’t happen soon enough, said staff.
“I'm impressed that they are making such a bold move after decades in the shabby brown shack that is Friary Court”, said a respondent. “The shocking thing is that it took them almost 5 years after the first sighting of a live rat in the toilet bowl to decide to get the hell out of Dodge”.
The new premises “look properly awesome and should be the equal of any firm in the City”, raved a junior solicitor. “Our current London offices are, frankly, absolute shit. Can’t wait to move.”
“Thank god we are moving”, agreed colleagues, as “the office is falling to bits around us”, and is replete with “rats, creaking pipes, raw sewage, mud-like coffee”, and “bipolar air-conditioning”.
“A proper flushing toilet will be a thing I no longer take for granted”, promised one HFW lawyer.
Herbert Smith Freehills
Exchange House is “well past its use by date”, suggested respondents. “Would be better if the sinks worked and the toilets flushes weren't half broken”. Yes, it’s well located, but it’s also “now looking a bit tired, albeit the new teapoints are nice”.
As at home, the thermostat is a site of contention. “Office is a freezer, I'm wearing coat, thermals, gloves, hat, scarf and have had to bring in a hot water bottle and refill it throughout the day”, said one paralegal.
The quality of the national firm’s various offices varies, according to respondents. “Huge divide between offices”, said a senior solicitor. “Some have great facilities. Others, the facilities exist, but you are lucky if the toilets and water machines are all working”.
The same is true of Irwin Mitchell, where “some offices are amazing, modern, well equipped and lovely to work in”, and “some barely survive a strong rain storm”.
Shearman & Sterling
“Apart from the mice it’s not too bad”, said one lawyer, although others insisted that “a refurbishment or move is now overdue”.
“The New York office has just had an incredible re-vamp”, said a trainee: “I think people are secretly waiting to see what's going to happen regarding the London office”.
Biblical references abounded. "In the last year we have had a fire, a flood... I would need to refresh my GCSE religious studies to know what is coming next”.
Pestilence, of course: “Mice running over your feet under your desk is not uncommon”, claimed a junior solicitor, with “cardboard and duct tape covering up holes in the walls of the toilets”.
Kirkland & Ellis
Kirkland is exiting the iconic Gherkin next year. As such, “facilities has given up fixing the building”, said an employee who said they were “typing this under a faulty lightbulb giving the impression of strobe lighting that has been covered up with a single sheet of cardboard”.
“Still”, added the respondent, “x3 free meals a day, taxis” and “frequent gifts from partners after transactions” made for “good perks”.
The Gherkin “is somewhat a relic of a bygone era”, said another K&E lawyer, who reckoned that “everyone is looking forward to the move to Gotham City. The real question is how the move will affect the 'soul' of the firm”.
Debevoise & Plimpton
A laterally-hired solicitor remarked that “like most firms, once you've accepted an offer and seen past the glossy client meeting rooms, the offices are…a little lacklustre”.
Other Debs lawyers defended their digs. Sure, “there are no bells and whistles, but there probably would not be time to use them anyway”. And as part of a perceived effort “to lure us back to the office”, the firm has stuffed in a new gym and laid on at-your-desk massages. Most importantly to some, there is no hotdesking, “which is of huge value”.
‘To quote The Matrix - everything the body needs”, said a senior solicitor. A Links colleague agreed the office was “excellent”, explaining: “Not open plan. Good restaurant, shop, gym, client meeting rooms and access to doctor and dentist”.
The firm has plans to move, however, “so they have obviously decided not to invest further and it’s very noticeable in some areas, particularly tech in internal meeting rooms”, said a colleague.
“Lawyers still get a real office with a door that shuts”, said a junior lawyer: “I don't know why some people say Silk Street is tired and outdated. It's better than whatever ghastly generic-modern fit-out they have planned for Ropemaker”.
Like several multi-branch firms, some Shed locations are lovelier than others. Manchester is “absolutely stunning”, while at “tired” Leeds the “carpet sticks to your feet”. ROF was also delighted but somewhat worried to learn that “the whole ‘killer building’ thing has been resolved”.
The defendant PI firm boasts “cheap but appropriate” premises. Some say “it’s a windowless dungeon”, but although it may lack the perks of posher firms - “the only pool is in trap 2 on B floor” - it also has the “biggest fridges I’ve ever seen”, according to one impressed employee.
Latham & Watkins
Latham's London office “is a bit of a time machine, with each floor having been renovated in a different decade. It's a matter of luck whether your office is on a fancy floor with free snacks or stuck in 1992 beige”.
However, a shiny new office is being built and will come online in 2026. “The new test floors are fantastic”, said a respondent after a sneak peek.
Which is just as well, because according to a female solicitor, Latham’s “loos must be the worst in the city - always stink of shit and piss”.
As for perks, the firm is “woeful with respect to gym subsidies/discounts - almost as though they don't want you wasting time in the gym”.
L&W may have cracked hotdesking, however. “I work on a hotdesking floor which actually works very well”, said a trainee, since “it doesn’t operate like a hotdesking floor as everyone keeps the same desk anyway”. Genius.
Trowers & Hamlins
“No expense spared is certainly not the mantra. It is clean though”, said a senior solicitor.
A partner agreed that the London office “is beginning to look a little tired, with deeds piling up on real estate floors, and dust collecting in rooms no longer used following the pandemic”. The cafeteria “remains excellent” after “almost being wiped from existence during lockdown”.
A junior solicitor begged to disagree, remarking that it was a “soulless dump with school canteen vibes” which “is mostly full of sad-looking associates gazing wistfully out of the windows at Slaughters' outside seating”.
“They should shut the office on Fridays or at least all the floors bar one, as no one ever goes in”, suggested one PMer. Those that do attend find that “it has less of the bells and whistles of some London law firm offices”, but “is extremely functional and comfortable”.
Unlike Trowers, Pinsent Mason’s in-house catering was a permanent casualty of the pandemic. “We’ve lost our restaurant in London post-covid, which is disappointing."
Several firms have introduced gratis grub to tempt in WFH addicts, and CMS’s free breakfasts at Cannon Place drew several compliments. “Bacon, eggs, hash browns, sausages, pastries, granola, toast, you name it and it's yours for breakfast. For free. Almost makes me want to go into the office more”, said a business services employee.
Elsewhere, despite "valiant efforts to make the fee earner floors homely and vibrant", the open plan layout "can still feel like a ‘call centre’ at times”, said a lawyer. “On the upside, at least we still have our own allocated desks".
CMS also offers the most intriguing innovation that ROF came across this year: techtaps. “The kitchenette drinking water taps being operated through an iPhone seem like a ‘forward thinking’ solution to something that was never a problem” said a fuddy-duddy respondent.
The in-house coffee shop is “great”, and a new gym was added after lockdown, but the hot office topic at Macs is the firm’s spread across several separate buildings.
“It feels like being back in a campus university. I don't dislike it!” said a respondent. “Moving between buildings breaks up my day and gives everyone a good excuse to get outside at least or once or twice”
Nope, it “is logistically frustrating” said a trainee, and “aesthetically it’s nowhere near up to the standard of not only their MC/SC peers but even the likes of DLA, Addleshaw, BCLP etc. It’s so clearly time for the firm to move, however the grey hairs at the firm love the location for nostalgia, so I doubt we are moving anytime soon. Macs is not one for change…”
A partner said, “They're fine. They do the job. A couple of trainees have been known to moan about the 'quality' of their offices, but frankly those are the trainees who moan about everything (food, IT equipment, gym, work, weather, economy, pay, everyone else but them, etc), so let's not be too harsh on the real estate”. Fiiiiiight!
The consensus is that DLA Piper’s new London office next to the Barbican “is outstanding”, there’s “just not many people in it”.
“Great office although half empty most of the time”, agreed a respondent. Those who do make the trip have found a “fabulous gym and good canteen", and loos which “generally work except, ironically, on the real estate floor”.
Scoring highly, Gowling WLG has a “beaut” of an office, said a trainee, which was “just what you would expect from an international corporate firm”. A more caustic colleague in business services said, “I think RollOnFriday have accurately reflected how the firm runs its offices and amenities in its recent stories”.
Clyde & Co
It’s clean and sparkling, which was only a problem for one respondent. “Great office, but the toilets are cleaned too regularly during the day”, complained a senior solicitor who likes a sit and a think. “No sooner have you gone in than a cleaner turfs you out. The regular cleaning also seems to encourage staff to treat them disgracefully”.
Norton Rose Fulbright
NRF's rare South London location is “more fun than Bishopsgate”, said a senior solicitor. Overlooking the Thames and Tower Bridge, “right next to Bermondsey, Borough and Bankside”, allowed for an “amazing” view.
The office itself is “classy” if “a little tired”, and “probably one of the best outside the Magic Circle”, said others.
“The building is still great”, agreed a colleague. “It's just a shame that they have given up on using more of it and cram us into tiny little rooms with 3 other people (at least one of whom invariably has not been taught how to use a phone in a collaborative working environment)”.
Allen & Overy
The Magic Circle firm's current Bishops Square office is “truly antiquated”, but A&O is moving out. Its office score may leap then, but perhaps not in the meantime as management “won't put a penny into the office now they've decided to move in 4 years time”.
The mock-up of the new layout “has proved controversial as lawyers at all levels have been torn from the safety of their offices to hot desk at random”, said a respondent. “To ensure compliance with the clean desk policy, individuals have been furnished with little white plastic trays to store their bits and bobs and a locker in which to store their pride. The pilot continues”.
AG is another imminent mover in London. “Rubbish office now, but hopefully a good one in 2024...”
It may need to smarten up the hotdesking. The current version had one junior solicitor wondering if the office team “put their heads together to decide how they could make the place as unlikeable as possible”, with “constant fights over preferred desks and God forbid you sit in the partner's favourite spot”.
The City firm is also moving, to Stonecutter Court in 2025, ending the “strange dynamic” of being split across two buildings. Just in time, said a senior solicitor, as “the bathrooms are becoming feral. Bring your own soap”.
Hold on, said a colleague: “the mysterious urinal shitter on the second floor actually adds some character to the place! I hope they don’t catch the culprit”.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - either the plumbing system in Travers is really ancient or the users of the gents on the second floor are eating some weird, weird shit”, chimed in a junior colleague.
Toilet abuse aside, Travers has outgrown Snow Hill. “Six people sharing an office the size of my bedroom”, reported a trainee. “I’m currently sat at a desk that would previously only have been used in a pinch for someone like a vacation schemer”. How unseemly.
Some of the perks are “excellent”, however. Three “delicious” free meals a day ”cannot be beaten”. (“Do not join Travers and expect to lose weight”, warned a sated senior solicitor).
Nonetheless, the move “can’t come soon enough”. Although the canteen and client rooms are “nice enough”, a partner said, “I won’t miss the periodic mouse infestation, non-responsive air conditioning and dodgy loos when we move to the new building”.
Womble Bond Dickinson
The new office in Newcastle and the refurbished offices in Leeds “are both excellent and have improved staff morale”, said respondents.
“Although to be fair, working from an oil rig would have been an upgrade on the old Newcastle office”.
“Very plush”, agreed a fellow Womble, “but I’m not sure I’d be happy paying for all this space and grandeur as a client, especially when we mostly work from home”. Poppycock, said a trainee. “The new/refurbed offices are so much better and have been key in encouraging colleagues to return to the office.”
The new Halo office in Bristol “looks like it could be genuinely a landmark location” said a partner, “although that is reflected in its cost!”
Staff are looking forward to it, and scores are likely to leap once they’re in. It “looks like Mecca for the ecologically zen inclined”, said one. “Will be A++”, predicted another.
Elsewhere, OC earned props this year for making period products available in office toilets.
“I don't think the office could be in a better location”, sighed a peaced-out junior RPC solicitor. “Lunchtime strolls around St Katharine's Docks and the Tower of London are unique and uplifting”.
“Nice location”, accepted a senior colleague. “However, I hate hot desking with the force of a thousand suns and work from home whenever I can to escape my loud colleagues' Teams calls conducted at their desks rather than in meeting rooms”.
Some weren’t delighted by a building-wide Benugo replacing the firm’s in-house canteen, but the "lovely" new Bristol office earned high marks.
The Walbrook offices in London “are so peng!” said a junior solicitor. A senior solicitor translated: “We have a ping pong table now. Huzzah”.
“Would have graded it ‘very satisfied’ but had to take a mark off as it would be nice if the ‘no smoking’ alarm didn't go off in the toilets every time someone lets out a fart”, said a TLT partner.
A similarly honest partner said the firm’s Bristol office “is an eyesore but only spoils the view for our competitors who we look down on (literally not metaphorically)”, from “the best 360-degree views" in the city.
In more good news, an employee disclosed that “after offering locally sourced snacks from responsible companies and realising the cost involved, they have backtracked and now offer Kit Kats”.
Mills & Reeve
Since WFH became standard, “open plan hot-desking has become even more unbearable by comparison”, said a Mills & Reeve respondent. “It is impossible to concentrate while one particularly loud colleague shouts down a headset in the middle of an open plan office. If I need to get proper work done, I have to stay at home to do it”.
The giant fountain in the lobby of Atlantic House “never gets old”, although concerning reports reach ROF that “Europe's tallest moving indoor water feature" now doesn't move because it was "making people sea sick”.
The firm has also “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”. That can be blamed on RollOnFriday, sorry.
HogLove is leaving, though, and one partner is delighted: “Looking forward to be moving to the other side of the viaduct”, he said. “The smell of Irwin Mitchell wafting over Shoe Lane is getting unbearable. It brings the whole neighbourhood down”.
The firm still earned good scores, thanks in part to a “brilliant gym onsite” and “good (heavily subsidised) food” – “£5-6 for a big meal is really decent”.
“Pool, Gym, canteen, all superb” said staff, resulting in a great score this year, but the only firm with an in-house pool is moving out.
“Of course the one thing we all like and they're taking it away from us!” said a business services employee. “CC is noted for it's amazing facilities - well in four years time we will be like any other, or probably on a par with a silver circle firm!”
“My big worry with the firm is the proposed office move” said a partner.
“We’ve hired a consultancy who are holding feedback sessions with people across the firm" they explained. "The consultants are talking about ‘solutions’ such as unallocated, interior facing offices. It should be bleeding obvious that nobody senior is going to schlep in to an unallocated office in the darkness, when they have a more comfortable office of their very own right by a window at home. Unallocated seating would also ruin a culture of mentoring that has emerged probably over hundreds of years".
"Perhaps unsurprisingly one of my associates said, ‘That’s interesting- which other firm do you think I should go work for when that happens?’ Their views were hardly unique”, he added.
Ashurst is no longer straddling Appold Street in two buildings, having moved into the swanky Fruit & Wool Exchange round the corner. Staff love it.
“So modern and ultra cool - not sure if any other offices even come close!” However, “two desks between three people means often arriving in the morning and being turfed out of your seat at 11am when the partner strolls in”.
White & Case
The firm is one of only a few firms which can boast the highly desirable free food mega-perk.
“Getting all three meals plus snacks and coffee for free makes such a difference”, said a trainee. It “makes it worthwhile coming into the office and takes a massive stress off our plates”.
It is “quite something”, too, said a colleague. “Made me laugh to see both steak and lobster available on the same day recently”.
The free grub “is restaurant quality” agreed a trainee. “I couldn't believe it when I was handed a beef wellington in my first week”.
And there’s a fresh look in progress: “They are spending millions on refurbishing the office”, said a respondent.
Office quality is “incredibly mixed” depending on the location.
“The level of investment in some offices - including London and Birmingham - is massive compared to other lowly regional offices which are tired and in need of some TLC”. But in general, “it’s quite nice unless you go to the Reading office - which is not nice”.
Ropes & Gray
Ropes is also providing all meals for nothing. “The free lunches/breakfasts since returning to the office have been very popular”, said a Roper.
“No gym, great food, great location, great shower facilities, great terrace, good coffee”, summed up a colleague. “Here's hoping the free lunches do not end anytime soon…”
Mishcon de Reya
“Our office is literally a palace”, said a trainee. Of the law firm offerings, the grand Africa House is “among the best in the City”, said a senior solicitor. “Gorgeous office, great location, client lounge is second to none. Loos are also great, and free period products are a nice touch”.
“The building is lovely” agreed a junior solicitor, “but being straddled by Ladbrokes and Wetherspoons does detract a little from the overall look”.
Freshfields staff are delighted with their new office, and their scores placed it highest of the Magic Circle, and joint sixth overall.
‘The new offices at 100 Bishopgate are incredibly swank”, said an impressed lawyer. “Everybody has standing desks, amazing views of the City/Thames, barrista coffee on your floor, etc.”.
“Amazing - huge improvement on Fleet Street. Pleasure to go to work there. Swish swanky”, managed a colleague. Others agreed it had a “definite ‘wow’ factor for visitors”, and the “only downside” was the lack of an onsite gym. “The options we have now (ClassPass/gym discounts) are good but when you work long hours, the convenience factor is so important”.
Like a “high end hotel”, the US firm’s London branch is “not quite the Clifford Chance level but very good”. And, “with the introduction of a slick gym (small but has all the gear), the firm “has a strong offering in this area” said satisfied respondents.
A rolling program of improvements is paying dividends at Clarke Willmott. “Next one up is Bristol which is shortly to move to a brand new, sky office with views across the city”, said a partner.
3rd Sidley Austin
The US firm’s London office “is still brand new and just stunning” said staff. Casting around for areas of improvement on their “fantastic” set-up, respondents hit on the water tap – “painfully slow still”, the lifts – “so smart they are painful”, and “those stupid coffee iPads” which “break about once a week”.
2nd Burges Salmon
Two words: “Jungle atrium”.
“The introduction of a mini-rainforest into the atrium has split opinion somewhat but I personally like a good indoor tree”, said a partner at the Best Law Firm to Work At 2023, “and the fact that people angst over it when it drops leaves like some Tolkien-esque portent of the firm's fortunes”.
Respondents’ high degree of satisfaction with other areas of the firm have, reasonably enough, bled into their view of the office, such that even the open plan isn’t universally loathed.
“As someone with young children being in the office is a dream”, said a senior solicitor. “There is a nice new open plan which I really like - might be strung up for thinking offices for lawyers are old hat, though”.
“Professional and modern, but nothing flashy” said a junior solicitor. “If I were a client, I wouldn't walk in and think 'why am I paying for their gym, swimming pool, subsidised bar...”
On the flipside, the staff canteen “insist on serving every meal in nasty dry 'khobez wraps' for some reason (pork and roast potatoes? Why is this in a wrap, let alone one which is too brittle to be folded and used as a wrap???)” but “other than that facilities are excellent. Clean loos, warm comfortable offices, great coffee bar”.
1st Bird & Bird
2Birds’ free coffee bar with baristas “is a massive plus” said respondents, who praised the “lovely” office on 12 New Fetter.
It is “an amazing and welcoming space”, said a junior solicitor, though “too bad lawyers don't have their own offices (a mix of cubicles and offices)”. Even so, for that respondent and others, open plan “makes for a collaborative atmosphere on our floor”.
The office design “makes learning by osmosis as a trainee far easier than the closed office layout”, said a new joiner.
Even the lawyer who asked, “Why the fuck is fruit not free and way more expensive than Sainsburys down the road”, and raged that “the brownies made with recycled coffee grounds taste like shit” marked himself down as ‘mostly satisfied’.
The views from the canteen over the Houses of Parliament “are amazeballs”, proffered a partner, who said it was “great that the buzz in the building is back”.