Some law firms make staff feel like rats in a maze, while others take pride in keeping their workforce informed. RollOnFriday's Firm of the Year 2015 survey works out which is which, by asking fee-earners (and support staff) to rate management openness.

This year Osborne Clarke and Clarke Willmott both take the transparency crown, with staff giving them 91% each. At Osborne Clarke partners talk "openly and candidly" about business plans, pay, career prospects and recruitment. In fact, there "aren't many topics that are off limits". Mayer Brown comes second with 88%, where lawyers talk of "first class" communicatons but "jargon absolutely everywhere" courtesy of the US, and Mischon takes third with 85%.

In the mid-table melee, Pinsents gets credit from a non-fee-earner for "great" internal comms and "very clear" strategy. Though a junior associate disagrees, saying that despite the "glossy brochures" and "endless management speak", the firm has lacked a strategic direction "for the past decade", and needs to stop focussing on its office "in the Falkland Islands" and decide "is it a national firm or is it an international firm?"

Meanwhle at Hogan Lovells, something called "Project Redefine" is dismissed as "frankly bollocks". On the comms side, a junior says "You tend to hear things on the grapevine long before any official announcements", which at least shows the laywers are talking. Unfortunately, "this can lead to some fairly ridiculous situations where everybody has to pretend that the thing that they all know is happening isn't happening".

    John discovers the away day is in Crewe

There are opposing views on openness at Irwin Mitchell, where one senior associate says he has "read comments previously on RoF" that management was "closed off" which "could not be further from the truth!". But a colleague says "it's a sausage factory" where staff are "drip-fed a diet of fear and paranoia".

There's more consenus at Ince & Co, where lawyers hope new leadership this year can help with "articulating and implementing... a clearer vision" for the firm. Many are also wondering how the "longest, most convoluted" business review "known to man" can "possibly take 3 years".

At the so-opaque-it-sucks-the-light-from-your-eyes end of the table, a DAC Beachcroft lawyer complains that there is "too much management gobbledygook" about "thought leadership" being produced  by "grey men... without a plan".  And Charles Russell Speechlys steers into third last with lawyers who say there is a "lack of communication from on high", accompanied by Watson Farley & Williams with a policy of "very little communication".

In second last place is last year's Golden Turd winner. Parabis associates say there is a "fundamental distrust" of the top brass, "so any attempt to 'listen' by the management is met mainly with silence or fake credit".  Not that there's much scope for honest feedback if reports that a recent staff survey "did not allow any negative answers" are true, resulting in "North Korean approval ratings". According to one Parabis lawyer its receipt of the glittery stool was "not mentioned once" by management. For shame.

Let's hope this year's least open firm, Trowers & Hamlins, can overcome its omerta and address the Golden Turd in the room.
Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 06 February 15 17:23

Looking at your chart, I think you'll find CRS is actually 4th from last, ROF. Worlds away from "third last".

Anonymous 07 February 15 21:18

The negative comment about former turd winner Irwin Mitchell is about right. Who will be exited next by the non performing managers of the non performing BLS division?

Anonymous 17 February 15 11:35

Seeing AG so high is an absolute joke