At the bottom of the RollOnFriday Firm of the Year table for work/life balance, staff complained of having no life outside of the office.
"Making weekday evening plans are impossible" said a "permanently slammed" junior lawyer at Slaughter and May (59%). Although he added, "I can't complain too much because this is what I signed up for." A senior lawyer was annoyed that "multiple consecutive weekends in the office" were the norm "for mid-level and senior staff" but that "juniors seems to get off pretty light by comparison."
Green-eyed lawyers also appeared at fellow Magic Circle firm, Clifford Chance (52%), as a lawyer noted "you feel the daggers of eyes as you try and sneak into the lifts before 6pm". A junior lawyer felt that "chasing money-hungry clients" meant that there were "pretty unreasonable expectations" from those clients. However, another lawyer believed that "US firms are far worse" and "other Magic Circle firms are equally as bad" and "Silver Circle firms are going belly up."
At Herbert Smith Freehills, a senior lawyer resented the unequal shafting between departments. She complained "the transaction team associates work 1800 plus hours while in some other teams associates can get away billing 4 hours or lesser on a daily basis" but "we are all still paid the same peanuts as the slackers". A beasted lawyer at the firm felt that the salary didn't match the sacrifice: "2000+ hours for pay that doesn't quite compensate for the near-loss of sanity."
A junior lawyer at Shoosmiths (49%) slammed the firm's low charge-out rates for a cause of poor work/life balance: "I have to work like a drug-dealer's staffie to get even a mediocre level of billing". A senior lawyer felt that hot-desking was responsible for a lack of productivity: "even if I find a desk, I struggle to get anything done at work - it's far too noisy and there are always chatty people or noisy whose voices reach to every corner".
At Linklaters (47%), a senior lawyer tried to look on the bright side: "sometimes I don't work weekends, which is nice". However another lawyer was aggrieved that "despite working until 3am", partners told her not to bill her time, as it would "affect their recovery ratings". She complained that those same partners then "questioned my low utilisation for that period".
"It's ok, you can record this as three hours of your time"
At Norton Rose Fulbright (47%) a junior lawyer said partners "restrict" the ability of staff "to work from home/remotely". She said "associates have to apply to be able to work from home once every two weeks" and "they can't do so on Monday or Friday". Which was more "like agile discouragement" than "agile working". Another lawyer said that management merely paid "lip service" to flexible working. A senior lawyer said that there only consolation was "I am allowed to heat up a frozen meal when being flogged into the small hours".
Kirkland & Ellis (40%) was lauded for its mega salary, but perhaps because of this it was at the bottom of the table for work/life balance. A junior lawyer summed up "when it's bad, nothing in your life is sacred". However, another lawyer said that while they undoubtedly worked long hours, "I challenge you to find a Magic Circle employee that works fewer hours than me".