Firms performing pretty well in their staff's eyes scored between 60-70%, although there was definitely room to improve.

Fieldfisher's (69%) strategy, said a junior solicitor, was "to laterally hire white, male partners". Another said that "unless you kiss arse to the most unlikable partners you can forget it!" But others were more positive. "Well", said a respondent, "I joined as an NQ many years ago and am now a partner".

At Jones Day (69%) "You hear complaints about a cult of personality", said a junior solicitor, "but I'm not convinced that isn't true of most jobs". A senior solicitor said lateral partners "are mindlessly recruited on 3 year deals and then leave immediately after once they find out what a shitshow London management is". Reed Smith (69%) "has a simple system", said a solicitor: "when the white smoke emerges from the chimney you get promoted". A less caustic trainee attested to the "excellent training", although "this will depend on who you are sitting with (3 seats so far for me and has been great)".

Hill Dickinson (69%) was "full of partners who won't take the hint and retire", but lower down the totem pole trainees cited a "good variety" of work. Linklaters' (69%) training "is second to none", said staff. As for partnership, said a senior solicitor, management "adopt the age-old model of beast people into the ground telling them it will be their turn next year", and "then panic when all your senior managing associates leave because they have finally seen the light and realised the odds are stacked against them". Lateral hiring "is the new career development", said a peer. "My chances of becoming partner at Linklaters would increase by 100 percent-points if I moved to some second tier firm and become partner there first. That would make me damn interesting for Links".

"To be fair to Hogan Lovells" (69%), said a junior solicitor, "they are now introducing a new career development and appraisal system which doesn't just involve an annual meeting with a partner who tells you that you did a crap job on a matter 10 months ago". There's "something new called 'Pathways'", agreed a colleague, "which I'm sure is very exciting once you start reading about it". Like "everywhere these days", groused a senior solicitor at Pinsent Masons (66%), "equity partners protect their revenue by massive use of salaried 'partners'".  

"A mixture of hard work and implied blackmail" was necessary for career development at RPC (66%), said a solicitor. "Because the partners tend to promote in their image", said a female solicitor, at the senior end of the firm there were "many, many more male promotions with female lawyers left behind". The frustration of women looking for partnership was a common theme. "If you are male then pat yourself on the back", said a female solicitor at Addleshaw Goddard (66%) "you are on the right track". But the appeal of partnership "is pretty low", said a junior AG solicitor, "when salaried partners make about as much as an NQ at K&E". And then, "those who get there begin an even harder slog to equity. A greasy pole without a bell to ring at the top? No thanks..."

  The moment you realise the grease is people. 

Charles Russell Speechlys (65%) "is actively trying to make career progression clearer and more attainable (including for women)", said a senior female solicitor. Although another said, "if you have a vagina you may as well stay home with the kids you dared to have. Traitor".

Herbert Smith Freehills (65%) offered "Top work" and "oodles of training" said a senior solicitor. As for promotion, it was "Highly dependent on the team". Some partners "are well-known for the fact that no senior associate has ever been made up to partner in their team on their watch". Some supervisors, said a trainee, "care more about their PA booking them an aisle seat on their next flight than your professional development. Others take time to review your objectives and any holes in your training". Phrasing.

There wasn't a clear consensus on partnership prospects at DAC Beachcroft (63%), although a junior solicitor said, "We have loads of very young Partners and it's because your trajectory is based on ability, not PQE". He suggested that "People who focus on PQE don't rise quickly for a reason", but "think they are entitled".

Clifford Chance (63%) offered "Excellent formal and informal training", said a trainee, along with "clear" seat allocation and "regular" appraisals and feedback sessions. "I have yet to meet a CC lawyer who did not have a good career", said a partner. "Not all of them at CC, though". A junior associate said, "I'd never want to be a partner here - the ones in my department have higher utilisation than the associates, and that's saying something". At DWF (62%) there were grumbles that senior associates were "effectively demoted" when all senior solicitors were bumped up to their title, "undermining the achievements of existing senior associates".

Ince & Co (62%) offered "Top level work in the firm's specialist areas", said a trainee, "but if you jump ship your knowledge may be overly specialised". Its "revamped" career path "allows people to apply for promotion sooner than might be the norm", said a junior solicior. Although one gave a shout-out to a manager involved in career development who "couldn't spell the word solicitor and thought having done time at KWM was something to shout about at a time when they were literally going down the shitter". Career development at CMS (61%) "is horrendous", joked a senior solicitor, "because there are two options available: (a) leave, (b) become a partner at CMS". A junior solicitor said the associate pool "has massively diluted" after the merger, with "Olswang non IP/Tech associates having no interest in working at all", and "Stockholm syndrome Nabarro Real Estate lawyers crying at their desks". Others were OK.

    "I love servicing corporate practices." 

Shoosmiths (60%) "is so much better at treating women like human beings than my old place" said a female partner. Although some of the other comments jarred with her sunny outlook. "I don't think I'll ever be pretty enough to satisfy the promotion criteria of this joint", said a female solicitor. "If you are female and work in a certain department", said a third female solicitor, "your aesthetics are positively correlated to your prospects of promotion". Taylor Wessing (60%) had "One of the lowest female partner rates in the City" according to one of its solicitors. "Hoping that this will improve", she said, "and it seems measures are being taken with a female partner going on the board".

"A few years ago", said a partner, Plexus (60%) "was said to be one of the first insurance firms which sacked their solicitors to replace them with paralegals. We've now gone a step further and started scrapping our paralegals for apprentices. You only have to pay them £10k a year". A senior solicitor was more positive about career development. "I believe it is excellent", she said, "in the sense that it shows employees what the very worst can be. A few years at Plexus and you could do anything else without issue. Jim Jong Un's hairdresser, bomb disposal, you could even recreate the sandwich board scene from Die Hard 3 in the Bronx as a career. You'd just think to yourself, 'at least I'm not back at Plexus' and you'd pull through". A junior solicitor recalled the "horrors of the NQ interview" where "they ask patronising questions then pull put a timer and say you have one minute to say why it should be you we choose. I should have walked out then and there".  
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Anonymous 22 February 18 06:24

Plexus is the victim of insurers devaluing what defendant insurance firms do. The big problem of course is that these firms will be pushed into loss making ventures to retain “a name”. Such stupidity leads to the need to cut overheads which leads to less able people delivering inferior services on the cheap. The model is not sustainable.

Anonymous 15 March 18 09:35

Worked at Plexus 100% true. Apprentices do case handling work whilst the graduates do admin. 4/5 going off with stress the 6 months I worked there, in that time 14/15 people left.