Shaft

What approach does your firm take?


Staff at DAC Beachcroft (83%) are the most satisfied with their work/life balance in UK private practice, the RollOnFriday Best Law Firms to Work At 2022 has found.

The firm was praised for introducing an agile working policy last year, allowing staff to decide where and when they want to work. 

"The 'Flex Forward' policy means there is no pressure to go into the office," said a paralegal, while "'Glide your time' means working at a time that suits you."   

"Flex Forward has been an absolute game changer for me," said a senior lawyer. "It really lends itself to life with a small child. I split my working day around him, and feel like I am able to spin both plates pretty successfully, as a working mum and as a solicitor. I am far more productive without my commute."  

"I can work from home without any negative judgment - it's great for me," said a Professional Support Lawyer. "I can avoid the rain at lunchtime to take my dog out mid-afternoon if I want to," commented a Business Services lawyer. While one senior lawyer was pleased that the flexible lifestyle meant they could "watch Pointless."

The Top 5

Clarke Willmott (81%) came second. "The changes brought about by Covid have been embraced as a long term goal - flexible working is almost a right rather than something you have to justify," said a partner. "I manage my own time to do my work and meet family commitments," said another lawyer. 

"I love the option to work from home whenever I want or go into the office," said a business services member of staff. "There is no comparison," said a staffer who had moved from another firm, "the flexibility and work life balance at Clarke Willmott is second to none. You are never made to feel bad about it either." 

Bristol-headquartered TLT (80%) placed third. "TLT are super flexible with home/office working, and staff are mellow when the 'child witching hour' arrives: 3:30-4:30." A partner agreed: "they've made the impossible (juggling work and kids) possible and I'm really grateful". 

"Working from home most of the time now which lets me fit more exercise in," said another staff member. "Much healthier for it." 

Mills & Reeve (79%) came fourth. "There is no expectation to be 'on call' outside of office hours," said a junior lawyer. "Our clients (and partners) know what they are paying for, and frankly, our hourly rates (and salaries) don't buy a round-the-clock service."

A senior lawyer said the firm set him up "tech wise" to work from home. "As a dad I wanted to be hands on and share the care of the girls with my wife. Nobody at work has ever batted an eye lid." 

In 5th was another Bristol-headquartered firm Burges Salmon (78%). "One of the reasons why I applied to Burges Salmon was for their emphasis on work/life balance," said a trainee, "I feel that this has been true throughout my time at the firm." While a senior lawyer said: "I work 4 days a week (to look after children on the 5th day) and I rarely have to work on my non-working day." 


Work Life balance


Middling firms

In the middle of the pack, a common grumble was against those firms that had snapped back into "rigid" ways, after the lockdown. "I feel we could have approached our hybrid/agile working with better flexibility following lockdown," said a member of staff at Macfarlanes (61%), "given that productivity remained high while working from home, our policy seems a little old fashioned and restricting." 

Another complaint at several firms was the inconsistency with workloads, with big peaks and troughs. "When it's busy we drown, when it's quiet we're dead. Doesn't seem to be a balance," said a senior lawyer at Hogan Lovells (58%).

Other lawyers at firms were close to suffering burn-out. "There is an expectation that I check and respond to emails at all times," said a junior lawyer at US headquartered firm Ropes & Gray (61%), "it can be hard to judge what is urgent and what can wait as more senior lawyers always respond immediately".

A trainee at fellow US firm Weil (58%) also said they had to be "constantly available", but noted: "I did sign up for this and, as my MC counterparts frequently remind me, at least I'll be on a big pay packet come qualification."

Staff at some firms complained of their employer paying lip service to wellbeing initiatives, while still working staff to the bone. "For a firm which notes itself on being a founder of the Mindful Business Charter, it quickly forgets the principles when mindfulness doesn’t suit the capacity agenda," said a senior lawyer at Addleshaw Goddard (55%). They added that associates in the finance team "are expected to work through evenings, weekends, holidays and even jury service".

The bottom firms

Norton Rose Fulbright came joint-57th with a score of 47% thanks to a perception of a "very poor" work/life balance. A trainee said that they "regularly start at 8.15am and finish at around 10pm". They felt "management have decided that the best solution is to keep on upping pay and chase the US model" when "more free time would have a far greater impact on my quality of life than more money at this point." Another trainee said "2am finishes are a regular feature," and "requests to work on weekends are not infrequent." 

A senior lawyer said: "an ever-increasing focus on billable hours means that in busy teams, work easily reaches US-firm levels without approaching their support or pay."

Allen & Overy (47%) came joint-57th. "With the majority of the firm surveyed last year saying they only wanted to be in the office up to 40% of the time, management imposed a 60% in office mandate," said one unhappy business services member of staff. "The business teams are made to fall in to line, while swathes of the fee-earner population do WTF they like: 'I'm overseeing the installation of our new wine cellar.  Please print off my papers and courier them over'." 

"There is no work life balance. Evenings, weekends and holidays ruined or cancelled to do pointless work with psychopathic partners," said a junior lawyer. "I’m an A&O associate, get me out of here!"

US-headquartered firm Kirkland & Ellis (46%) came second in the pay satisfaction survey for its magnificent salaries, but placed 59th for work/life balance. "Rarely go home before midnight," said a junior lawyer. Another asked: "What's 'life'?" A Business Services member of staff said that while the firm offered some flexible working it was "best to have your phone with you at all times."

Linklaters (45%) was another Magic Circle firm to have disgruntled staff, placing 60th.

"Don’t work at Linklaters if you want to have evenings or weekends," said a junior lawyer. "And even when you work those, you’ll be told you’re not working hard enough." 

A senior lawyer agreed: "Try as some partners might, work/life balance remains illusory. Love getting the emails about the importance of sleep and mental health when at 120%+ utilisation." 

Another Links lawyer saw the positives: "It's pretty hardcore, and my friends in more chilled firms / in house laugh at me... but there are worse places to be. At least people say sorry and thank you when they've shafted you."

In another surprise appearance at the very bottom, fellow Magic Circle firm Slaughter and May (37%) took the last spot. Several lawyers were aggrieved at seeing so many colleagues heading for the exit doors. "There’s not enough lawyers after a mass exodus and too much work to go around with skeleton teams," said one junior lawyer. "So much so, people are resigning because that is the only way they can see an end to the constant flow of work," said a senior lawyer. Another lawyer said: "We work the same hours as US firms but get paid significantly less".

"'We don't give you billable targets' they say. True. But the workload they pile on associates is more than anyone could keep up with," said a senior lawyer, "not giving targets only enables the partners to save money by not paying bonuses".

 

Tip Off ROF

Comments

Who would have thought it. 11 February 22 08:45

Are they trying to suggest that firms with lower pay offer more work life balance? That sounds crazy talk, it will never catch on. 

Being Slaughtered 11 February 22 09:26

@08:13 and @08:55

Very much so. And the worst part is that rather than being outraged at the situation, the partners are outraged that the associates have dared complain in the RoF survey (over the past couple of weeks I have heard no fewer than 5 partners spitting venom at it).

But yes, unless they fix something sharpish, the spiral of doom will continue. Too many people have left, too few people have been hired, and too much work is being accepted by the ever-greedy partners, leaving the skeletal crews which remain having to handle far too much work. I do not recall when was the last weekend where I did not clock in for some work - but what really irks is the fact that even though you're already operating at 150% utilisation, partners STILL email or pop by to give you new matters. We have a lettering system where we are supposed to tell them how busy we are each week - fat good it does. You can be at the highest possible letter (indicating you are already overworked), they will still ignore all of that and add more.

As some of the replies to the survey said - the only way to return to humanity as an individual is to quit. And that is why I am currently serving my notice period.

Anon 11 February 22 09:27

I don’t think anyone expects a particularly good work life balance when they are working in a big law firm (I don’t mean the likes of DACB) and part of the reason for high pay is to compensate you for the workload and incursion into your personal life.  Anyone going into a big city firm should know that and make a decision.   Yes you’ll get paid £100-150k as an NQ but you may not feel enriched by the joys of life working constantly and having little room for much else.  It’s at least something that these firms are even aware of mental health issues and the concept of work life balance because they weren’t 10 years ago.  You take your money, you make your choice.  

Anonymous 11 February 22 09:28

Glide Your Time sounds good for the lawyer but not so much for the client or court. Presume there is something covering off mandatory aspects like a hearing time. 

Anon 11 February 22 09:42

@Being Slaughtered

Hey, but on the bright side at least “there are no billing targets” though and you can be “multi specialists”.     

Anonymous 11 February 22 10:08

@09:27

 

I agree and disagree both. Yes, people understand they are signing up to a deal where their life will suffer. But what I disagree with is the idea that this enables partners to make obscene money off their backs and not share a fair proportion of this back. When I was an NQ some years back now, I regularly calculated my gross pay per hour billed salary, and it came at or sometimes below the minimum wage. Now that I am charged at north of £650 on blended rates, I calculate the gross profit margin between my salary costs to the firm per hour billed and it is below 5% most of the time (yes, ok, there are fixed overheads).

As to mental health - it's frankly ridiculous at Slaughters - the training is focused exclusively on RESILIENCE. There is no training of the partners in terms of how to stop being heartless sociopaths and psychopaths and how to avoid putting their staff in too stressful situations; rather, the staff is trained to learn how to become resilient to whatever sh*t is thrown at them.

In other words, the firm has realised that burnout is a problem - and to great fanfare is providing us apps and mental support all focused on helping us build mental "barriers" to be able to cope with the constant pressure, abuse, shouting at times, and general stress of being dropped at the bottom of the ocean with several balls and chain attached to our feet.

What we need is training for the partners to become self-aware, but that will never happen here. 

Maurice Bishop 11 February 22 10:38

It depends which part of Hogan Lovells. We love nothing more than being dumped with work sat in a partner's inbox for a week and now after a deadline because said partner has been too busy tending to LinkedIn. Still, who doesn't love a good #FrIDay?

Toby Greenlord, Freeman on the Land 11 February 22 10:53

So I'm gonna go on the road once again.

Gladding to roam once again.

The leaves are my canopy

Grass for my pillow.

I will be free once again.

Keoghs info 11 February 22 11:01

Keoghs are an insurance outfit based on the M6 near Bolton. 
 

Known for work that is very high volume, very low margin. Backed by outside money as they were in a hole previously. 
 

The big K are desperate not to be on ROF so steer clear of the survey in 2023 folks. 

Anonymous 11 February 22 11:08

@09:56 - they are owned by Davies Group so it will be tightly managed on costs. 

M6 warrior @Keoghs 11 February 22 11:10

Keoghs are NOT loss adjusters. How dare you!

 

we are a serious and up and coming law firm determined to dominate the insurance space. We are on a roll too and will be a big name in 3 years. 

4q 11 February 22 11:14

I left Slaughters a couple of years ago. Didn’t have an especially hellish experience in terms of hours, but it was a genuinely horrible place to work. You’d hear the sort of stories, in terms of partner behaviour, every single day that at other firms would happen once or twice a year. Most days there would be posts on the trainee / junior associate WhatsApp group about a partner or senior associate who’d made a trainee cry, or thrown things around the office, or made an outrageous remark. 
 

It’s only when you work somewhere else that you realise most law firms aren’t like that, even if the demands are still intense. Know loads of people who went to US firms and are happier despite arguably working harder since at least they’re part of coherent teams with decent people rather than having to deal with psychopaths on a daily basis.

Holborn viaduct 11 February 22 11:27

DAC living in 2122 while Hogan Lovells is in 1982 and Associates are still judged by whether they come into the office every day of the week… 

any jobs going at DAC? #savemefromthedinosaurs

Billy Bob 11 February 22 11:40

Surprised not to see HSF and Ashurst higher up. Any clue why this would be compared to Travers? I suppose they are far more international overall and therefore maybe longer hours despite being 'silver circle'.

Travers Trainee 11 February 22 11:49

Travers policy is generally good and I’d say people probably come in 60-70 percent of the time. One issue I have though is that I’m in a room consisting of two associates and a partner - who to be clear are all lovely. However without fail everyday at least two of them, without fail, have a scrambled egg sandwich in the morning, either an egg sandwich or egg salad for lunch, then on Deliveroo in the evening predictably order  something egg based from a local all day breakfast place. The issue I have is that my room stinks of eggs all day and I think it’s awful - think eggy farts. I don’t know what to say about it but it makes me feel so ill everyday. Some advice would be appreciated . Should I say something to them? 

Slaughters associate - slaughtered AND dismayed 11 February 22 11:49

@Being Slaughtered - yep, completely same experience here. When the first result came out, one particularly vocal finance partner went round telling anyone who would listen that "hardly anyone responded" to the RoF survey, and so the results were skewed by only getting responses from people with a grievance against the firm. We're literally being gaslit by the partnership to believe that there's just a small handful of very unhappy associates airing their dirty laundry. 

If that's the case, maybe they should be asking why the apparently happy and satisfied majority didn't respond to the survey to say how great SM is as a place to work? Maybe because they don't actually exist... 

Keoghs and Davies Group Boss-Man 11 February 22 11:50

We are tightly managed on costs. That’s how [our leaders] can afford their frankly massive houses and ridiculous lifestyles.
 

We see you. 

Keoghs r-us 11 February 22 11:52

I earned more at Toys R-Us than I do now at Keoghs, but at least I don’t have to deal with loads of screaming kids. Hang on, er, wait a minu….

Keoghs watcher 11 February 22 11:55

11 Feb @ 11.50 is right. 
 

we see you. Except when you are hiding. It’s like North Korea near the services, where at least we can get a decent BK. 😂

WFOBR 11 February 22 12:10

There are issues at Slaughters? Have you not seen the weeklyone emails advertising the latest Unmind nonsense and lunchtime Teams yoga sessions with some random vegan from business services? How could there possibly be employee dissatisfaction with all that on offer?! 

Anonymous 11 February 22 12:15

The only good thing you can say about Keoghs is that they aren't Horwich Farrelly.

Bolton Prison Warden 11 February 22 12:16

I’m at Keoghs Bolton. Our problem is the lack of competition. We can’t move firms for better pay as there are no other firms. 

Being Slaughtered 11 February 22 12:16

@slaughtered AND dismayed

Pretty sure I can guess who that partner is. But that excuse is nonsense because if there were only two people venting in the survey, RoF wouldn't include Slaughters in the list for lack of responses. The fact that there are enough responses to put us essentially in the Turd position tells you there is absolutely a problem to be fixed.

Also - I didn't reply to the survey (last year was too busy until I quit) so there's at least one person who would have given close to bottom marks not in there...

Anonymous 11 February 22 12:37

Travers Trainee there with a beautiful description of one of those arbitrary hardships that life occasionally just throws your way without reason. Like inexplicable lightning from a clear blue sky.

Everyone else at your shop loves the place. They're delighted with the work and the colleagues. But you, and only you, are saddled with the office full of egg-addicts. Everyone else has room-mates who eat a varied diet of benign foodstuffs. But not you. No. You get the always egg people.

Totally unfair. Insufferable even. And yet somehow society considers that it would be remiss of you to complain about it. You are literally trapped. The only solution would be to resign, but of course that would be total overkill and leave you destitute. All because of the small matter of incessant omlettes.

So all you can do is sit there and listen to them chewing down egg-related victuals all the live long day, wondering how it is that you were cursed with the kind of luck that makes you the only unhappy camper at Travers.

Brutal.

You have my deepest and most sincere sympathies.

Happy bunny at DAC Beachcroft 11 February 22 12:48

I am not surprised that DAC Beachcroft are top of the work life balance table. The horror stories I hear from lawyers at other firms surprise me. There is no better motivation than working for an organisation that appreciates people work to live rather than live to work. It really is a great place to work! 

Anonymous 11 February 22 12:52

@12:16 - get a train to Manchester then for more money. The only prison is your mind.

Anonymous 11 February 22 13:08

Some top London law firms are now hiring people on a predominately remote basis. The expectation is that they will still head into the office but less frequently. This is a game changer for many reasons.

Observer 11 February 22 13:17

Not surprised to see MC firms at the bottom of this. If you want Silver Circle pay but US firm hours, go MC. On a more serious note - the sad thing for associates is that the choice is between money and more money - there is no work life balance option anymore - you may as well take the US firm cash given you’ll be working the same hours in MC. 

Also 11 February 22 13:34

Hated most of my time at Slaughters.   It was a genuinely unpleasant place to be.  I witnessed unhappy people, bullying and completely inappropriate (putting it mildly) remarks made openly by people in positions of authority that really should have known better. No one speaks out because HR is viewed as weak, and the partners literally are the firm.  There are some fundamental cultural  issues there which are now coming out, based on a hierarchy syndrome, partners and people in senior roles being almost untouchable regardless of what they do, some seriously inflated egos, and too many people have been institutionalised and never known any other work environment so they think it’s normal.  

Bingus 11 February 22 13:37

I’ve been commenting for a while under the name Bingus, I may as well confess now that I am a Slaughters associate in a specialist department. 

I personally haven’t had hellish hours. Usually 40/50 chargeables a week (but I did have a particularly bad Christmas period and last summer was also quite bad…). 

The problem with Slaughters is that it genuinely is a crap environment to work in.[…]

The partnership is so out of touch as someone has already said above. Just look at the Weekly ONE this week - “listen to these short sessions to learn how to take actionable steps towards living a fulfilled life”. Give me a break - stop beasting your associates and maybe they’ll all stop leaving and forcing the rest of the firm to work overtime whilst partners refuse to fill the gaps.

The gaslighting thing is totally true too. In my department the partners actively try to brainwash associates saying the ROF surveys aren’t accurate / reflective of the firm. Someone else has already said it perfectly above - generally happy people do not exist at the firm / are in the absolute minority[…]

They are yet to publish their rewards philosophy review and when they do you can bet Bingus will be here again to leak it all - the firm and the partners deserve to be dragged through the mud. 

WoRk LifE BalAnCe 11 February 22 13:55

Tbh the top paying end of the silver circle (Ashurst/HSF) seems to be the place to be right now. There are numerous polls that show you leave MOST days by around 7:30, almost never work weekends, and work with far far less psychopaths than at US shops (or Slaughters...) 

Plus you're still in the top 10% of earners in the country

So for grads with student debt, SC Nqs can make circa 5.2K per month. Most US Nqs (except those on the Goodwin scale) are making 6.5/.6k a month, finish near midnight daily, and regularly work weekends Is it really worth the extra 1k or so?

Hilarious re Keoghs /HF 11 February 22 14:12

Keoghs and HF comment today - genuinely belly laughed at that one

 

keep up the good work 

Slaughters Associate 11 February 22 14:26

Just so everyone is aware about the no billable targets at Slaughters, that has been slightly diluted by the introduction of the new time recording software. Interestingly, at the bottom of the screen for each day it says “7:00” in red text. As you record your time for the day the 7:00 will go down until it hits 0:00 - at which point the text will be green.

 

When you then go to submit your time for each day, anything under 7:00 will be written in red text and anything over 7:00 will be in green. 
 

When it comes to compiling worksheets, if you aren’t hitting your 7:00 a day, your numbers are highlighted in red. If that’s not. A billable target through the back door I don’t know what is.
 

Of course noting that most people are doing over 7:00 but on the rare occasion you get some respite and do less than 7:00, your hours are highlighted in the weekly report to your department in a big fat red.

Bingus 11 February 22 14:40

Interesting ROF didn’t post my comment seeing as  I am speaking as a Slaughters insider (associate in a specialist department) and there was nothing particularly bad about it, it was more or less a repeat of what has been said above. In summary though 

- culture is toxic

- partners are ruining the firm

- it’s a bad deal (arguable if you’re in a specialist department)

- I have experienced the same brainwashing by the partners on these ROF surveys, they are in complete denial

ROF feel free to edit this comment as you see fit/not post this if you already are planning on posting my previous comment - it’s important people see that multiple people at Slaughters are saying the same thing

Anonymous 11 February 22 14:53

@14:13 - the person would be buying train tickets on wages from their new employer.  What a fool.

Another happy bunny at DAC Beachcroft 11 February 22 14:59

I agree with the comment from the happy bunny at DAC Beachcroft. I am another one. Flex forward is real and not just a pretence of jumping on the flexible working COVID bandwagon. 

Anon 11 February 22 15:29

Wow - horrible result for Linklaters. Below the US firms they pretend to have better lifestyle than to justify 2/3 the pay.

Anonymous 11 February 22 15:40

@Travers Trainee - I hear you, must be a bit rubbish, but maybe you should put a clothes peg on your nose next  week when you go in and see if that helps???

I can kind of relate - but with an opposite issue. When I was a trainee, one of my supervisors asked me to stop chewing gum because she hated the smell of mint. Bit odd, and as a mints/gum lover I was a little taken aback by the attempt to  limit my civil liberties. So, what I did was have the fishiest tuna / salmon / mackerel desk breakfasts and lunches. I started chewing gum a couple of weeks later - guess what no complaint..... 

Alternatively, just go in on Monday with a bottle of ketchup and squirt it at  your room mates like a water gun. You may get sacked, but at least you won't have to put up with the smell anymore. Plus if you don't get sacked you still won't have to put up with the smell as they'll remove you from that office and you'll go down in legend as the Travers ketchup guy/girl.

15:40 for Prez 11 February 22 16:13

Strong advice from 15:40 there. I second every word of it.

The guy clearly knows what he is talking about, so just get your ass up on Monday and get in there with a one kilo tube of catering ketchup and start blazing away at everything in your cubicle that moves.

Literally everything. Colleagues, computers, oscillating air-conditioning units, innocent bystanders entering the room to discern the source of the commotion. Blast them all. No mercy. Paint every possible surface a glistening sugary crimson red until your demands are met in full.

You're either a partner by the end of the week, or the dude with the biggest balls in the Jobcentre plus. It's win-win. All upside.

 

Mmm buffet 11 February 22 16:45

Slaughters should've copied Freeths approach to the ROF Survey - (1) strictly monitor internet traffic for ROF hits and (2) put out a memo 'anyone responding to the survey doesn't get invited to Friday lunch buffet at the strip club'!

Keoghs machine 11 February 22 17:20

I second the comment about Keoghs being a machine. We are just like a ZX81. 

@16:13 for PM 11 February 22 17:23

An honourable idea with good detail on how to execute the gesture to end all gestures, but one element was missing: whilst shooting long ropes of red, sticky liquid around the office, make sure to hold the oversized ketchup bottle like you would your one-eyed bandit, powerfully grasping the bottle and aiming from your nether regions, grunting and rhythmically thrusting your hips with gusto, furiously stroking the side of the bottle, occasionally yelling out “Willieeee banjo!”.

That, I assure you, will have your action enter the annals of City history. And will likely lead to you getting arrested. All upside, winning.

Eat the cake and have it 11 February 22 17:26

"Other lawyers at firms were close to suffering burn-out. "There is an expectation that I check and respond to emails at all times," said a junior lawyer at US headquartered firm Ropes & Gray (61%), "it can be hard to judge what is urgent and what can wait as more senior lawyers always respond immediately"."

Cooley and Ropes & Gray sail into £140,000+ NQ club | RollOnFriday:

"Ropes & Gray has gone further and increased its London NQ salary to £147,000, plus bonus, effective from 1 November 2021."

It's pronouned Ho-burn 11 February 22 17:58

HogLove is a mixed bag. Corporate is full of unhinged people who expect you to work all hours, partners in public law team and tax teams are super nice and more relaxed, litigation and regulatory teams less so. Never see anyone from finance. They could be gollums for all I know, precious.

Services into Sector 11 February 22 18:13

How come Watson Farley did so badly?  The pay isn’t great compared to the MC and US, however we don’t have the volume or quality of work like these firms so we aren’t under pressure.

SM Finance Associate 11 February 22 18:29

Most of the comments and survey responses re: SM are total nonsense. The suspicion internally among associates is that the responses are from a small number of disgruntled and entitled trainees who are probably the hothoused, hired-at-age-21 types who have never had real jobs in their lives and think that the concept of working late once in a while for a huge salary is totally anathema. 

Freedom of information 11 February 22 18:40

Why isnt this article and the comments posted all over LinkedIn!?  Loads of propaganda posted, no facts….  Can’t believe this is all public information and yet our firms still do NOTHING about it

DACB EMPLOYEE 11 February 22 19:13

unfortunately the work life balance comes at a price, no wonder staff didn't get a rise as they rely on other things like flex forward but people are perhaps  working even harder and still have to make the time up. 

@ SM Finance Associate 1829 11 February 22 21:03

> Most of the comments and survey responses re: SM are total nonsense. The suspicion internally among associates is that the responses are from a small number of disgruntled and entitled trainees who are probably the hothoused, hired-at-age-21 types who have never had real jobs in their lives and think that the concept of working late once in a while for a huge salary is totally anathema. 

 

If that's true, surely the other MC firms would be hiring the same types and receiving the same feedback?  But they're not?

Nibble nibble SM Finance Associate 11 February 22 22:27

@21.03 unlike the other MC firms, we didn’t have our entire HR team padding the survey with pretend responses. The feedback to the partners here was that there was a negligible level of response to the survey; inevitably this is going to be from a tiny number of disgruntled sensitive souls - nobody else here bothered filling it out. There are things to moan about at the Slaughterhouse for sure, but I don’t think that an NQ salary of £100k+ for a no billable hours target (most are really doing 1500-1750) warrants the place in the rankings this year. 

Sue Gray 11 February 22 23:12

Wow. City lawyers are finally speaking truth to power. No longer afraid to call out malpractices, and no longer held back by the same hierarchy and structures that have historically have kept all of this information away from public view. Whatever the next internal whitewash (or rather gaslighting) deployed by Slaughters, we can practically be guaranteed prompt leaking via the medium of ROF comments. But what if one day these illuminating stories become headlines splashed across the legal press? It could be a perfect storm. Parallels with partygate even. What can be said with some certainty is that, like we’re seeing with partygate, Slaughters faces a painful drip-drip-drip of truths until some major cultural changes happen.

S&M v Keoghs 11 February 22 23:31

I’m at Keoghs. I work hard and earn 28k

 

i cannot belive that people who earn over100k are having a moan. Get a life you whingers. 
 

 

Bingus 12 February 22 00:39

SM Finance Associate drank the Koolaid LOL It’s okay maybe SJC will let you hit before he retires 

Anon 12 February 22 06:34

“The feedback to the partners here was that there was a negligible level of response to the survey”

How would the firm know whether people had provided feedback to RoF or not?   I doubt those responding to RoF use firm systems and I doubt someone is going to disclose they have responded to a survey if they were asked, when the feedback they have given  is less than positive, particularly given the cultural issues alleged where to admit such a response is hardly likely to be well received.     You can’t therefore possibly know how many people actually filled it out across the whole firm.  

If Slaughters didn’t have its HR team padding the answers, then this is of course evidence that the responses are more likely to be genuine.   You are also assuming that the only or main people with issues are trainees or juniors.  There is no basis for this assumption.  The comments are not stated as being only made by trainees, and in a number of cases refer to wider issues in any event including attrition rates at associate level and the behaviour of some partners.   Even if it was the case that only trainees and juniors felt aggrieved by treatment and the culture, a better approach would be to listen to their concerns and reflect, rather than to dismiss any criticism as being from “sensitive souls” and to consider that the firm  is above any criticism and doesn’t need to change.  Is this is itself not part of the problem?  

@Keoghs 22:31 12 February 22 06:47

Are you a qualified lawyer? If so, that is a truly appalling salary regardless of location.

What’s stopping you from leaving?

Without wishing to sound rude, if there are other opportunities in the market for you to leave and get a better deal, then do it.  If not, then you’ve found your level.

Actual SM associate 12 February 22 06:58

@22:27 

You just revealed what I suspected, which is you aren't actually an SM associate. If you were, you would know that the trainees + NQs aren't the disgruntled ones and the complaint isn't the 100kpa salary; rather, the complaint is that the partnership has increased NQs but squeezed everything else resulting in below inflation pay rises for many years.

If you are genuinely an SM associate who thinks all is fine, then I do wonder how you explain the mass exodus we have seen across groups over the past two years. I have been here for many many years and whilst we have had waves of exits before, this one is the biggest I remember.

@ S&M v Keoghs 12 February 22 08:14

“Get a life you whingers.”

I think that’s what they’re trying to do. 

Anonymous 12 February 22 09:46

I wasn't clever/driven enough to get into Big Law (a mediocre outfit in Birmingham was the height of my achievements), but reading these comments, it sounds awful. To me, money doesn't make up for devoting your life 24/7 to work. I guess if you're in these firms it is regarded as the norm but it isn't really a normal way of working is it? I'm equity now and know some lawyers in their 20's will be taking home more than me, but then I'm home at 6pm to see my family and don't have London living costs. I guess you have to ask what you want from life.

Special K 12 February 22 15:09

The person earning 28k at Keoghs will likely be a 10 year legal assistant with nowhere else to go in Bolton. 

Bolton boy (Keoghs) 13 February 22 13:51

The Bolton problem will only get worse for Keoghs as they simply can’t recruit from the local talent pool - their isn’t one. It works for them to keep pay low, but against them when it comes to recruitment. 
 

 

Aiming for a bit more 13 February 22 20:56

DAC Beachcroft - the firm with £56k pay at NQ and £530k PEP.  With such dismal financial prospects, they can count themselves lucky the 'Flex Forward' and ‘Glide your time' policies are keeping their lawyers (both associates and partners) happy.  Unless that translates into an 800-900 billable target and virtually no BD expectations, the reality is that they are getting a rather raw deal.

Burnley playa 13 February 22 21:52

Mansions in Bolton go for 28k so the big dog from Keoghs is probably making it rain every day. 

Another real Slaughters (senior) associate 13 February 22 23:58

Whether or not Slaughters did have many employees responding to the ROF surveys, I can tell you the results of them are an incredibly accurate reflection of the morale inside at the moment/over the past year.

Workload has been a joke since the latter stages of 2020 and whilst this is true of many law firms, treatment of staff has been appalling. Salaries paused/cut for much of 2020 and 2021 despite soaring workloads (I wonder where that money went), cuts to more ancillary benefits have been made wherever possible, minimal effort to organise fun socials/nice gifts during pandemic (and even when they did do an event, you most likely had to miss it due to work), working all evening every evening an expectation, no attempt to adequately recruit, WFH equipment first offered 1.5 years after the pandemic began (knowing full well everyone had already had to buy it themselves). The list could go on. The place is a total mess and even people you would never expect to say a bad word are talking about how morale is “dire”, the environment “toxic”, and how they’re now looking elsewhere. 

The post-bonus wave of resignations is growing by the day, and considering they’d already failed to make any notable dent in the task of replacing staff that left in 2021, this new wave is setting them back even further. They won’t admit it, but the panic is creeping in. For the first time at least in my memory, in October they announced a likely pay increase almost 3 months in advance, which basically screamed “please don’t leave! I promise we’ll probably up your salaries (by less than inflation) in a couple of months!!”. I don’t think that ever happens - normally you just find out out of the blue that salaries have gone up. And obviously by the time they took those 3 months to make their decision, we’re now way behind the market again. There’s also talk of some departments holding new leavers to the full 3 month notice period - again, never used to happen. You know you’re in a spot of bother when you’re reliant on vast numbers of leavers to still be working hard in the 3rd month of their notice period. Then again, with no lateral hires, there are barely any senior associates left either, so if you’re anything past 6 months qualified, be prepared to be treated as a senior associate and left on your own on calls with partners from other firms.

But never fear, as pointed out above the firm sends the odd email about a mental health app and ways you can cope better with stress as a quick fix to solve those minor mental health issues cropping up all over the firm. Of course, the issue isn’t with what is causing the stress; it’s your poor management of the stress that is the problem.

It’s an absolute hell hole and I cannot wait to be free of it. Do yourself a favour and steer well clear. 

Slaughters associate - slaughtered AND dismayed 14 February 22 09:31

@ SM Finance Associate - is your mouth dry from all that bootlicking? 

Legal commentator 14 February 22 13:06

Having worked at a MC firm (not the slaughterhouse) and now at a west coast US firm in London, I can unreservedly confirm that US firms are just better in every respect - 50% more pay, same hours and more importantly less hierarchical Codswallop. US firm partners have much less support and therefore work harder to grow the practice, and take the associates on the growth journey. Conversely, MC firm is filled with arrogant, old partners who think they’re like god and entitled to treat staff like condoms, while contributing nothing to the practice overall other than sitting on those panel firm sweaty garbage work.

MC firm management needs to seriously reflect on its staff retention strategy, and to understand that the culture it portrays is nothing but blatant lie. 

Rasputin 14 February 22 15:03

Is there actually anywhere viable for 'humane' hours (eg 7/8 finishes?) and a not-awful paycheque? I was thinking forms like Ashurst, Addleshaws but, actually, looks like they're not great either. 

S & M v Keoghs 14 February 22 18:43

My previous post seems to have generated a lot of interest. 
 

I am not a Partner and am not a Solicitor. So there.

i do work hard as I said, but am happy at Keoghs and don’t mind my salary. I’m quite well paid locally and better than many of my friends.  

Ex SandM 16 February 22 10:16

Most of the above comments are true, in my experience. There is one partner in particular who is toxic, and makes trainees and associates cry with their demeaning and constantly insulting behaviour. The amount of work is crushing, as well as the expectation to be online at 2am, 6am and all weekend. Not worth it, especially with the abuse added into the mix. 

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