Lawyers at London firm Bird & Bird rated their work/life balance the best in the country in the RollOnFriday Firm of the Year 2017 survey, although regional firms dominated the top of the table.

Thousands of law firm staff across the UK revealed whether their firms let them fritter their evenings away with friends and family, and 2Birds took the top spot with a superlative 94%. Its lawyers vouched for an "excellent" and "genuine" work/life balance which was achieved, said one loyal 4PQE soldier,  "without compromising top quality work". In joint second place, Bristol-based firm Clarke Willmott scored 88%. Insiders said, "you cannot beat the work-life balance at the firm", where senior lawyers "appreciate that you can have a life outside of the office provided you are hitting targets and doing your job". A 1PQE praised the "excellent holiday package" which allows staff top buy five extra days, while a senior solicitor said that CW had been "incredibly supportive and flexible" with regard to repeated maternity leave, allowing her to "alter my hours as needed to fit in with childcare".

Clarke Willmott shared second place with southern firm Blake Morgan where, as compensation for working in Portsmouth, staff "generally go home by 6.30pm at the latest". At East-Anglian headquartered Mills & Reeve, work/life balance was also "where it's at". Living in Cambridge and "getting to be home by 7 most days" said a lawyer, "makes my job enjoyable"

  A 2Birds partner, 5.30pm 

Runner-up Firm of the Year 2017 Osborne Clarke took fifth place assisted by its "real focus" on female progression and family policies. The Bristol-based firm put a "strong emphasis on our well-being", meaning "I usually leave no later than 6:30pm". Hours targets were "low, as are the number of wankers", while a staffer in Reading said a "connected working" approach had seen all fee-earners receiving a lap top and permission to work from home "whenever they want (within reason)". 

Fellow south-west firm TLT also scored 83%, for a balance its lawyers called "great", "very good" and "excellent". While "many larger firms pay lip service to having a good work/life balance", said a lawyer, TLT employees "are permitted to have lives beyond the office". Most people were out of the office by 6:30pm and staff praised "not having to work ridiculous hours in order to get recognition". In "most teams" at 5th placed Liverpool firm Weightmans, "you are pretty much able to come and go as you please", though one lawyer said that was "mainly due to the mediocre management and the fact that pretty much everyone ignores the hefty manuals that HR produce to justify their own existence". Others were less double-edged, praising a "great" work life balance and "flexibility over hours and childcare".

There was an impressive recovery from Golden Turditis at Plexus, also on 83%, which was "like a totally different place" since Parabis went bust. Staff "still have nightmares" about their time with Parabis, but "hopefully they will pass with ongoing therapy". Firm of the Year 2017 Burges Salmon took ninth place with 81%. The Bristol firm's new "b-agile" flexible working policy received plaudits, although a lawyer did grumble that it was only permitted "provided you stick a badge of shame to your office door". Teething troubles aside, there was recognition management was keen to promote the scheme. "I have been working from home one day a week since January", said a senior solicitor, "and a number of my colleagues work 4 days a week, or 9 days over 10". Every other firm on the Best chart did pretty well, too. As for the rest...
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Anonymous 10 March 17 09:21

I worked on the other side of a deal from Bird & Bird, and can certainly attest to the fact their solicitors have a very good work/life balance.

Anonymous 10 March 17 11:07

Home by 7.

LOL! It seems people have been brainwashed into thinking an hour unpaid overtime or so a day is normal?

Anonymous 10 March 17 19:10

LOL @ the idea that working past 5pm is "unpaid" and/or "overtime".

If you would like to clock in/out and be paid by the hour you may prefer a role with Sports Direct.

Anonymous 14 March 17 14:19

It depends on the department at TLT. Corporate and banking lawyers often work 12-15 hour shifts for months on end and even if they leave at a "reasonable" time, there is an intense working culture of plate spinning and ripping through a few days' worth of work in 10 hours. However, all-nighters tend to be rare and they are generally good about allowing you to leave early to catch a flight etc. Those in employment, litigation etc often do tend to leave at 6-6:30-pm.