Firms did very well indeed if their staff rated them between 70-80% for work/life balance, though staff were more likely to highlight disparities between departments.

Gowling WLG (79%) was "a doss in some teams" said a junior lawyer. "Quiet after 18:30 and is dead within an hour", said a colleague. Mayer Brown's (76%) new work-from home policy was "great", especially if you "have to come in from Surrey". And it only wasn't great if "you have a controlling (presenteeism) partner as a boss". 

Shearman & Sterling's (75%) work/life balance was "perfectly reasonable for the cash" said a senior associate. "It's big law", said a colleague, "so long hours and weekend work is the norm, not an exception". But "the partners let you have a life outside and there is no dickishness about it (at least from London, some of our American and Asian colleagues have different approaches)"."They've never had it so good", said a partner at DAC Beachcroft (75%). "We don't push faces to the grindstone", said another. "Just as long as folks do 6.5 hrs of billable time". "The pay might be low", said a junior associate, "but the trade off is having a life".  But, said a partner, "It amazes me when people complain about progression and pay when they are only putting in 9-5 hours". 

Pinsent Masons (74%) was "better than at Norton Rose" said a senior solicitor. From its northernmost office, a solicitor said there was "a rare vibe that we do London hours for Scottish pay at times - If I wanted to work a 20 hour day, I'd fuck off south". There was "no face time culture at all" at Charles Russell Speechlys (72%), said a junior solicitor. "Those boasting about burning the midnight oil (looking at you corporate team) are often looked at as slightly odd". Although "a few partners still need to be taught that working from home is not the same as having a day off", said a senior solicitor, "and that there is a good metric for determining whether a lawyer has been working on a given day...".


  At these 'Cirques' (circuses) you might actually see some 'Soleil' (sun).

"I am frequently working 80+ hours", said a Baker McKenzie (72%) trainee. "My dog is less than impressed. And my partner". But it seems he was the exception. "There's too much life in my work/life balance", said a junior associate. "This isn't helped by the fact that everyone here thinks they're a massive lad and wants to go out every night". "Chill out, guys", she advised, "our Russell Group 2:1s may hang heavy around our necks, but we don't need to overcompensate".  Clyde & Co's (72%) balance was "better than many City firms", said an NQ. It was "nice if you are in a litigation team where you only have 4 weeks to do something if it's urgent", said a senior solicitor, "but not if you are in a transaction team working round the clock". "For a City lawyer with an upward career trajectory", said a BLP (72%) senior solicitor, "I have the best work-life balance I could hope for". "I get to see my family at weekends, which is nice", said a junior associate. Another said most partners "are pretty reasonable if you have tickets to a show or simply want to see your son/daughter/partner/doggy".

At Travers Smith (71%) the average billable hours "are around 13-1400 across the firm", said a senior solicitor, "which is partly because we're sh*t at time recording" but "partly because we don't get thundered like other firms".  Loads of staff at DWF (71%) said it placed a "high value" on work life balance. "Most days I'm out by 6 or 6.30 to see the kids", said a lawyer. "Wouldn't get that in most places". The Leeds head office of Plexus (70%) "has often been compared to a school", said a partner. "Partly because the average age is probably 22 with all the apprentices" and "partly because there is a rush for the door at 5pm and no one left by 5:10". The work life balance was "actually so good it's bad", said a trainee. "As in if you go to the toilet at 5pm and come out at 5:05 it's like the start to 28 days later". "People rarely stay behind and work over as no one acknowledges hard work so you just look stupid", said a colleague. "4pm and out thank you very much" said a trainee.

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