24 January 2013
Ince & Co enters the record books today by topping the RollOnFriday UK Firm of the Year survey for the second year running. It beat off challenges from Kirkland & Ellis and Shearman & Sterling, to take the gong with an impressive 87% overall score. See the full results here.

RollOnFriday Firm of the Year
is the definitive law firm satisfaction survey, inviting lawyers across the UK (and Australia too) to give the lowdown on what life's really like at their shop. Staff rate their firm for pay, work-life balance, management openness and career prospects, as well as the all-important categories of biscuits, loos and parties.

Ince scored very highly for both pay (90%) and career prospects (92%). Staff rate the firm's "fabulous support" and "hands on experience with big sexy cases (in so far as insurance can ever be sexy)". And whilst Incers are likely to be pocketing a good deal less than their counterparts at the US firms in second and third place, it seems the combination of a decent wage and a great work life balance means staff are happy with their lot. Lawyers praise the "appreciation that you have a life outside work" and "genuine commitment to flexible working". Which explains the firm's very good 81% score for work-life balance.

The firm also scored extremely highly for its social life, scoring a chart topping 94%. Staff love the "regular London office drinks courtesy of the partners" and "lots of very popular events". "They know how to throw a damn good party" added one associate.

    Lawyers enjoying a damn good party yesterday

Ince also did well for management openness, scoring 86%. Staffers praised the "very approachable partners" who "genuinely care about their associates".

Ince's lowest score of 78% came for its meeting room biscuits: "when clients are not in the office the excellent biscuits are replaced by stale digestives" moaned one. But the rest of its culinary offerings seemed to please: "amazing catering and hospitality staff" ensure "great food" is always available. As the in-house chef is apparently ex-Claridges, that probably isn't too surprising.

But it can't all be roses and unicorns, can it? Well no. There were complaints about the firm becoming "more corporate" and being "quite old-fashioned" compared to competitors. One trainee claimed it's "not easy to meet people in other departments" and another added "the weekly fire alarm test occasionally goes on... longer than normal". Tough times.

Senior Partner James Wilson said "It’s terrific news that Ince & Co has been named UK Firm of the Year for the second year running.  It’s a tribute to everyone right across the firm  - they all contribute to the strong sense of teamwork and the positive atmosphere in the office which is particularly important in these uncertain economic times".



Meanwhile, debut entrant Kirkland & Ellis scooped joint second place with 83% (as shown in the exciting graph above). The firm scored a perfect 100% for pay, with lawyers praising "top of the market salaries" and "good benefits". The firms' stellar scores were also helped by "good colleagues" and a "brilliant view" from the firm's Gherkin offices. But the rub is the lack of work-life balance, and Kirkland's score of 59% in that respect prevented the firm from coming top. "The hours can be brutal" said one trainee, while another claimed "there are also a handful of people who are more than happy to screw your Friday night/weekend/holiday/life over to save their own".

Kirkland shared second place spot with Shearman & Sterling which won plaudits for "quality clients and quality work", "excellent pay" and "engaged partners". Lawyers praise a culture in which they are able to leave work on time during quieter periods without being made to feel guilty. Plus the firm apparently boasts "nice smelling toilets", which is always a bonus.

Check back next week for a breakdown of firms' performance by category.

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