As responses to the RollOnFriday Firm of the Year 2014 survey pass 2000, an interesting picture is developing of life inside the City's top law firms.

There's identity confusion at Slaughter and May, where one NQ says the firm's reputation as "overly-traditional and conservative" is "unfair". Although colleagues, after coughing politely and dabbing away errant jelly baby with a napkin, suggest things haven't got too out of hand. People "tend to be civilised towards one another," says one. It is, agrees another, "very calm".

At Clifford Chance a number of lawyers have started to see everything through the prism of long working hours. The toilets are "fairly decent if you need a mid-afternoon kip after an all-night beasting". Which is lucky because "the prison cells of Cell Block H are luxurious compared to the sleeping pods." On the upside Clifford Chance "gives you what you ask for," says a senior associate. "As long as you don't ask for more money or easy hours!"

    Bedtime at Clifford Chance

Allen & Overy has got very posh with a "jazzy new in-house shop" which sells everything from "delectable pick'n'mix and cakes to champagne". And Tiffany jewellery. And flour, "for all those who have the time to bake their own bread." However there's disagreement as to the quality of colleague. One trainee says there are "very few arseholes" in the firm, but a senior associate disagrees: "speedy lifts, wall-to-wall tossers".

Meanwhile Freshfields lawyers claim they have the "best quality work in the City", but some are troubled by the lack of diversity. One has an "underlying feeling that the firm is held on trust by a generation of white blokes for the next generation of white blokes". Another complains that the chances of getting made up are "absolutely none if you're a woman." And to top it off, "personal post is no longer delivered to desk, only work-related post."

At Herbert Smith Freehills, offshoring the grunt work to Belfast has apparently "pretty much eliminated first level document review from associates' (and trainees') workloads", leaving more time for "better" work. And in more good news the merger with "richer, better run and thoroughly ruthless" Aussie firm Freehills is driving the London office ("the best place to see dinosaurs outside of the Natural History Museum") into the 20th century. The only problem is that there are "major splits emerging."

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Anonymous 22 December 13 12:50

I left A&O a few years back and confirm that you do have to be a very odd sort of human being to make it there. You need to be 1 part borderline psychopath, 1 part good egg and 2 parts workaholic. Oh and male. And a bit sweary. And being on the spectrum doesn't hurt either. Needless to say I'm now very much "Allen & Overit".