Has your firm got good pay, high tolerances for failure and a thriving social scene?

With over 7,500 responses so far, RollOnFriday's survey of the best law firms to work at is set to be the biggest ever index of where's great and where's overflowing with misery and pain.

If you work in private practice and haven’t had your say, pile in today and tell us how happy you are with your firm before the survey closes on Monday. 

You can still influence the final rankings, or you might provide the response which gives your firm enough entries to qualify for a place in the results.

At the moment, not enough people have responded from Gibson Dunn, which means a Gibson Dunn associate's verdict that the London office comprises "a group of socially inept weirdos" will go unrecorded, and that would be a shame.

Latham & Watkins is in the mix and doing well, and no wonder. As one lawyer said, "I'm a 26 year old with no discernible experience of anything and can barely iron a shirt yet earn nigh on £150k... It's a complete joke (in a wonderful way)".

The Magic Circle firms are jostling for prime position, with one currently drifting some distance behind the other four. Is it the firm whose staff claim there are "retention bonuses for some teams but not for others" and "they make the teams that get paid them sign NDAs"? Or the one where "the emails telling us to do yoga in order to preserve our mental health are really grating when the firm does nothing to moderate workload"?

At Allen & Overy, "It's very clear that NQ pay is being done at the expense of more experienced lawyers", said one of the, you guessed it, more experienced lawyers. The NQ pay war has elicited similar complaints at several firms. "Pay is great if you are a junior but the gap between newly qualified and senior associate pay is becoming extremely narrow", said an associate at Herbert Smith Freehills.

The worst-performing firm will become the Golden Turd, and several old hands have been joined by some new faces at the bottom of the table to battle it out for the glittery stool.

It could be the firm where open plan offices mean "you can't talk freely" so staff have developed "an entire language of eye rolls and discreet head shakes".  

Or it could be the firm where the training programme "is about as useful as a wet fart". 

Or the firm where a lawyer said "I have seen people crying in public from shocking behaviour and being disregarded as 'lacking resilience' or 'being weird'".

It almost certainly won't be Hogan Lovells, although if you recognise yourself as the partner "I am stuck with" who "just posts on LinkedIn all day and occasionally graces us and her clients with her presence so that she can very slowly deliver [questionable] legal advice", don't delay, set the record straight today.

Tune in for the results on Friday. 

Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 14 January 22 08:54

All Wombles staff are thoroughly content and any survey responses to the contrary should be ignored.

TopDaawg 14 January 22 09:40

haha I know someone at Gibson Dunn. Absolutely utterly mental but the sex is great. I can completely understand where the "socially inept" comment came from.

Anonymous 14 January 22 09:49

Slater and Gordon have one hand on the golden turd already.  If your firm is worse, pipe up now. 

Reflective 14 January 22 09:53

There was a time when I'd have dismissed the 26 year old at Latham & Watkins, earning 3 times what I do at 8 years PQE as a regional senior associate at a different firm and probably at least £50k over my eventual ceiling, as a jumped-up, smug little b******. But you know what? Good for them. I hope they enjoy it. Just the way the cookie crumbles, I suppose.

PS any firms reading this: Pay your regional lawyers more.

Anonymous 14 January 22 09:59

10 pqe and dual qualified senior associate regional lawyer here on 63k.

Should've gone to London and sold my soul.

Common Sense 14 January 22 10:12

It’s just common sense TBH if you’re in banking, corporate or funds.

What is the point in toiling away at MC / SC when you can do the same hours in certain of the top US firms working on matters of the same or better quality for 40-50% more money at NQ level and >100% more money by the time you are a few years in?

You’ll easily be doing 2200+ hours per year in those departments at a top UK firm and so the jump to US hours is nowhere near as big as people make out. Average hours in the debt finance team at K&E is 2400 after by far the busiest year on record (more like 2200 pre-COVID).

The magic circle firms perpetuate a load of old nonsense about how awful US firms are to work for because it’s the only card they have left to play when they can’t offer the same pay or quality of work or even materially better work / life balance.

To: Tom 14 January 22 10:14

Is the that the same Freshfields restructuring team where all the best people left to go to K&E and STB?

Anonymous 14 January 22 10:59

If I was a younger man again then I would've gone straight to a big London firm to work like a dog and receive huge remuneration for a handful of years before going in house or moving to the regions with my hundreds of thousands or million. 

Nothing but admiration for those selling out at an early stage. Just don't end up being that 45 year old working 2400 billables per year as you're wasting your life. 

Anonymous 14 January 22 13:09

"Average hours in the debt finance team at K&E is 2400"

Pretty sure most UK firms won't get anywhere near that average for a good reason - you can cope with a few years at that tempo if you are young but it will rapidly cause most people significant physical and mental health problems.

Que? 14 January 22 13:38

They might not in advisory departments, but the transactional teams at the MC will be around that level.

Anon 14 January 22 13:54

Unless you really enjoy it I wouldn’t advise working such long hours at any age. Its not healthy and the money earned comes at a mental and physical cost. It’s utterly absurd to work such hours if you have kids - you can live comfortably working in house or at smaller firms that are less demanding.

no one wishes they worked harder on their death bed. They do wish they had spent more time with their loved ones.

what I’m saying seems so patently obvious but for some reason most ppl carry on regardless.

sense 14 January 22 13:57

'@sense 09:49 - don't knock it 'till you've tried it.'

So by that rationale I shouldn't knock shooting up heroin before I try it? i'm pretty sure I can identify an impending mental and physical disaster before trying it

JPPFanclubFounderMember 14 January 22 15:35

As a 10+ lawyer now in-house earning a third less than a K&E NQ, I say fair play to them. Market forces etc etc. That said, heaven knows how these salaries are going to be sustainable in the long run...these highly paid NQs are going to want to be even higher paid junior and senior associates, and all the other lawyers will be demanding hefty payrises to keep track/maintain the gap. This all feels like Leeds United circa 2002/3... 

Anonymous 14 January 22 16:03

The industry, or at least the London arm of it, has got itself into a right potential mess with these salary levels. They're gross.  It'll be interesting to see where it goes. But hey, if their clients are silly enough to pay the ludicrously inflated hourly rates to let firms have silly offices and sillier salaries... have at it! 

Anonymous 14 January 22 16:18

Go there, if you are a 20 something and want to be happy. 

The partner of the firm I used to work for demanded to know why we looked happy, because something must have gone very wrong with the morale. 

Yikes 14 January 22 16:28

God these junior pay rise / what juniors are paid related items are tiresome.  If someone wants to work all hours as a PE gimp then that's fine for them.  Equally, if someone wants to earn what will still be a decent wage while having good work/life balance that's also fine.  

Anonymous 14 January 22 16:59

It’s never fine for someone to want a decent work - life balance. We must shame this kind of thinking out of society. 

Anonymoose 14 January 22 19:05

"Average hours in the debt finance team at K&E is 2400"

I'm happy being at a MC firm in a non-finance team doing 1900-2100 hours, even if the money is significantly less good, im still absurdly well paid

Bring it home 14 January 22 22:05

If Slater and Gordon don’t get the giant 3rd steaming pile of shit I will be furious! 

Harvey Spector 15 January 22 14:12

I wouldn’t get out of bed for less than £300,000 and I love it. MC and SC firms are full of people who can’t hack it at American firms. As for those outside of London, enjoy earning peanuts. 

Anonymous 15 January 22 18:51

The legal profession is a diverse community in the sense that we all survive learning our own tricks. Like some JLD members having recently realised that future lawyers will not be impressed with their jealous guardianship of the training contract regime have turned to enticing and calling for future lawyers going through the SQE route to report to the JLD any "problem" they face in the SQE path. 

It would be foolish to think the JLD had an immediate change of heart and decided to welcome greater competition in the profession. They should know the lack of talent in the job market currently says much about their concerns. 

The client interested in services in any area of law will not find legal jobbers, who do not focus on the law or or essential skills of the trade but rather spend their spare time in politics acting like a trade union within a trade union, a very good lawyer. He is not eager to employ such a lawyer if he can find the brighter ones without the middle managers with a solicitor's licence. For many I think the social media may be their demise. 

So, I am not at all surprised why some new comers are paid so much more for very little experience on paper. 

Anonymous 15 January 22 20:43

Genuine question: how do Keystone Law achieve a ranking for career development and culture, when there is none?

Congrats to you all 15 January 22 21:16

You’ll be the richest people in the graveyard 👍 your stinking corpses will be covered in Sterling.  Have a nice life 👏

Anonymous 15 January 22 21:26

The amount of money these people pay it amazes me that anyone stays beyond 35.

You would have thought anyone with intelligence and self-discipline would have an escape plan and the ability to implement it.

Anonymous 16 January 22 09:28

Is Slater and Gordon a real firm or something set up by the marketing teams of the worst firms in the country to shield their own firms?

Herbert 16 January 22 19:40

Lmao at all these salty regional lawyers in the comment section. 


There is absolutely nothing unsustainable about the junior pay levels at the City firms. Especially the US firms can easily afford to pay at these rates. A small dent in the partners' profit pool - that's about it.


It's not our fault your PI firm in Blackpool cannot pay more.

PI Firm, Blackpool 17 January 22 12:21

Surely the key question is whether the law firms will profit from these increased salaries?

My guess is not. Regardless of location and type of firm, most NQs are still very much learning on the job.  There comes a point when the salary increases start to look like a “loss leader” provided in the hope of attracting talented individuals. 

In the fiercely competitive Blackpool PI market we found that loss leaders don’t work in the services sector because staff still leave when they realise no amount of money can make up for regularly having to cancel meeting friends, despite our marketing team’s best efforts. That said, Herbert might be just the person for us…


A_Partner 18 January 22 12:55

@Anonymous 15 January 22 21:26

The pay hasn't been at these levels for long enough to really test whether more people will cash in a check out. 

I joined a US firm as a 5PQE in 2015 on less money than that firm is now paying its NQs; the salaries have really raced away in the last 3 - 5 years; so we'll be waiting about another 5 years to see the impact on the mid-levels (especially as the mid-levels get increasingly irritated as pay stagnates as soon as you hit a level where the going rate isn't public...)

Anonymous 20 January 22 10:31

Echo a number of comments here. Go and secure the bag as a London NQ and milk it for all its worth. Take all the cash you can and then dip out to something slower paced. Nothing more tragic than working silly hours in your late 30s, 40s and 50s. 

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