Sixteen law firms' staff are mainly very satisfied or satisfied with their management, the RollOnFriday Firm of the Year 2020 survey has revealed.
In the comprehensive survey of over 7,500 people in private practice in the UK, Mills & Reeve's (92%) employees were the most satisfied with their leadership, described by one lawyer as “the velvet glove of Justin and the iron fist of Claire”.
Travers Smith (87%) came joint second. The smart City firm ”is really well led at the top. Charismatic, thoughtful and progressive”. “Very pleased to have a woman take over as chair of the firm”, said one lawyer. “I joined from a US firm and the management here (at every level) is so much better”, said another.
Bristol-based Osborne Clarke's (87%) top team has long been held in high esteem. “Approachable, likeable and they listen”, said a member of business services. “By the way Ray Berg is still a legend”, they added. “Except for being a Spurs fan” chipped in a lawyer. “But there are also other great members of the management team and they are all really open”, stressed another lawyer.
DAC Beachcroft’s (84%) senior and managing partners were, “Like Richard and Judy but clever”, suggested a solicitor. Management was “Tough to criticise at the minute”, said a junior solicitor. “They have even got a bit better at internal comms. I'm not saying a whole department wouldn't be made redundant and we'd first hear about it on RoF, but I would be more surprised than in the past”.
Macfarlanes (83%) bosses “do things properly and are passionate about the firm”, said a junior solicitor, and “the overriding impression is one of stewardship”. SP Charles Martin “is a minor deity”, at least to one trainee. According to another employee the incoming SP has “Big boots to fill”.
Change at the top appears to have gone well at Shearman & Sterling (83%), where the new Managing Partner, Matthew Readings, “is universally admired, respected, and slightly feared”, said a junior solicitor. The firm was praised for “frequent updates on what is happening”. And they “placed an apple on our desk the other day to promote our wellbeing, which was rogue”, said a colleague. “Not sure a Golden Delicious can make up for passing out from exhaustion, but the thought was very nice”.
Burges Salmon (79%) “is and always has been about its people", said staff. "They seem to understand that if they just maintain a laser-like focus on that you can't go too wrong”. Although, “There are still nearly as many partners called Richard as there are women partners which is unnerving”.
Clarke Willmott (79%) “is now run by a clique of MAMILs”, said a lawyer, but despite the lyrca, "it's good", said a colleague. Trowers & Hamlins (79%) management were “genuinely nice people”, said its lawyers, although "It would be nice for those of us in the 50% of the firm that doesn't do Real Estate to be remembered from time to time…”
How they managed.
Addleshaw Goddard (77%) was “At times maddeningly cautious”, said a partner, “but to be fair to them the graphs mostly point up” and ”the more incremental approach to growth looks pretty sensible in the current climate”.
Shoosmiths (77%) was rated excellently for management despite a few aggrieved comments along the lines of, “Imagine trappist monks trying to organise an orgy in a brewery...and you're not even close.” But the firm was cheered for its internal noticeboard, where staff can post suggestions or complaints and management responds. “Some of the stuff on there is as stupid as you would expect, but it's an entertaining way to pass 10 minutes”, commented one appreciative lawyer.
In a moving testimonial for management at Mishcon de Reya (76%), a business services employee confirmed, “They do give a shit about the firm”. Others highlighted how the top dogs were “Forward-thinking and entrepreneurial”. They’ve “done a great job growing the firm and keeping it ‘Mishcon’”, said a senior solicitor. “It’s hard to level any substantive criticism”.
A TLT (75%), a solicitor moonlighting as a pundit said, “Its disruptor strategy is bearing fruit and competitors are quite rightly spooked”. Management “is too nice”, countered a steely partner: “some partners get away with murder (not literally)”.
A junior solicitor at White & Case (75%) had even more mercenary advice for their bosses: the firm needed to “become more ruthless in hiring and firing people", they said. "There's no use having a 500 lawyer office in London if only half of them are good”. Others demurred. “Everything works as it should”, they said, describing the management as ”streamlined and effective”.