Sampling the culture across firms

Over recent weeks, the degree to which law firms have provided their people with satisfactory pay, career development, work/life balance and the office/amenities has become clear thanks to the thousands of submissions in the RollOnFriday's Best Law Firms to Work At 2024 survey.

Next up is culture. One man’s meat is another woman’s poison, and a firm which delights one camp with its character may alienate another. Some respondents highlighted that the workplace had changed post-Covid and staff should have choice over flexible working, whereas others wanted people in the office for longer periods to bond. Some staff wanted to see their firms embrace DEI, whereas others complained of management spouting waffle or just paying lip service to such initiatives.

To paraphrase John Lydgate, firms can't can’t please all of their people all of the time, but those placing toward the top of the rankings managed to thread the needle, and gained a positive reception from a significant proportion of respondents.

Here is the table for culture, from best to worst, followed by the comments below:

Culture chart

1st Burges Salmon, Michelmores 

Burges Salmon, crowned RollOnFriday's Best Law Firm to Work At, came joint-first for its culture.

Staff at the Bristol-headquartered firm praised the lack of hierarchy: "As a business professional, I'm very pleased with the level of respect I'm afforded by Partners who are helpful and respect my expertise." A trainee commented: "The firm is very good at recruiting basically 'nice' and friendly people, however awkward that sounds to express."

"The firm’s continued support for working from home is really valued," said a junior lawyer, "team spirit remains strong even with only 2-3 days in the office, helped by regular firmwide events and themed days".   

"I no longer get that Sunday night dread because I actually look forward to coming into work," concluded a Burges Salmon staffer.

Michelmores shared the top spot. "It’s a bit cheesy to make a point of, but this is so important," said a partner at the firm. "Happy partnership culture does seem to permeate firm as a whole. There's a remarkable lack of clinical psychopaths."  

A colleague agreed: "There are a lot of people here who have left other firms where the culture is not good and those people are so relieved to have moved to a happy ship".

3rd Bird & Bird, Mills & Reeve

"The firm is very careful in terms of lateral hires and trainees and it shows," said a Bird & Bird senior lawyer. "There is a genuinely collegiate atmosphere and partners do not seem to be too precious about allowing other departments to work with their existing clients, or to open matters with other partners listed as the matter partner."

Another Bird & Bird staffer remarked: "Having worked for a few law firms now, I am not sure that I would work for another law firm again after being at Bird & Bird as I truly think it has the best culture out of the City firms."

A Mills & Reeve employee said: "I have recently moved from an incredibly toxic working environment and I am still stunned at what a kind and caring culture Mills & Reeve have." While a senior lawyer remarked: "The only issue is that everyone is sometimes too polite."

5th Birketts    

"It is quite touchy feely," said a Birketts lawyer about the firm, "and to an extent they do back it up with their actions: CSR days, wellbeing programmes etc. Almost everyone is nice and if you are not you generally won't last long here."

A colleague remarked: "Big focus on family and the health (mental and otherwise) of all colleagues. There are lots of incentives and opportunities to make an impact. You feel that you are really listened to."

6th Browne Jacobson, Harbottle & Lewis

The "excellent" culture at Browne Jacobson, was down to the "professional, supportive and empathetic" people at the firm, commented one lawyer. 

"People are really nice and friendly, it is a positive culture," said a trainee. "It is rare that you can say you work with some of your best friends, but I do," adding they they spent Christmas with another trainee.

Harbottle & Lewis was complimented for its friendly culture: "Everyone says hello to you and welcomes you in when you're a new face," said a junior lawyer. "The people are often very interesting and actually genuinely engaged in getting to know who you are as a person". 

"A strong focus on wellbeing and you are encouraged to attend their free wellness sessions," said another Harbottle lawyer. "These include exercise classes, massages and therapy."

8th Clarke Willmott

Clarke Willmott's lack of hierarchy was lauded by staff: "Just a mutual respect for everyone and a sense that we are all an important part in the business," summed up one lawyer.  "The firm values individuality and appreciates that we are here to work, not to sign our life away."

The firm's culture "has always been important" said a partner. "We are navigating the challenges of our hybrid model, as for everyone who loves the flexibility of not having a rigid working pattern, there is another who wants more of a critical mass of people regularly in the office. We therefore continue to try and find the balance to keep both cohorts reasonably satisfied."

9th Blake Morgan, Russell-Cooke

"Our team is full of people who get on, and will always help each other out if there's an issue," said a senior lawyer at Blake Morgan. "There's no backstabbing or posturing. No one is overly competitive." 

A fellow colleague reported: "The firm does lots of work in the social value and charity space, and I think this is more than just box ticking for those involved - there is a genuine desire to support those in the local community."

"One of Russell-Cooke's strengths is its culture," opined a staffer about the firm. "Teams are approachable, there are team and firm socials as well as clubs and health/mental health/sports initiatives to support wellbeing." 

While a partner remarked: "I trained at the firm and am still here 20 years later. The firm's culture and its people are the main reasons I have no intention of leaving."

11th Addleshaw Goddard, Forsters

"Distinct lack of arseholes" at Addleshaws, opined one lawyer. "Very few dickheads and those that are dickheads are widely mocked," agreed a colleague. Conversely, "there are some twats around," said another.

The Forsters culture is "top notch," commented a lawyer at the firm, "minimal weirdos and/or psychopaths." 

"A bunch of very sociable people," said another Forsters staffer, "each year the NQs get to pick the fancy dress theme and the partners join along."

13th Osborne Clarke, Taylor Wessing 

"People look out for each other at Osborne Clarke," said a business services staff member. "There are very few big egos.  Whilst you are expected to work hard, people care about your wellbeing at the same time".  

An OC partner remarked: "What I like about the firm is that partners seem to enjoy the success of other partners - they do not see it as a zero sum game." 

At Taylor Wessing there were generally positive comments about the firm's culture, with one lawyer describing it as "an excellent place to work." 

There was divided opinion regarding the extracurricular pursuits on offer at TW. "There’s plenty of non-fee earning related activities to get involved with," said one lawyer. Although another junior lawyer commented: "People keep talking about how much nicer it was to do team events pre-pandemic but no-one seems to want to organise them now. Makes me wonder about those past events."

15th DAC Beachcroft,  RPC

A DAC Beachcroft senior lawyer observed that their colleagues were "generally the sort of people you want to spend time with, which helps on the longer days". The "no dickheads" policy also applied at DACB, said another. 

The RPC "partners are very down to earth and friendly," said one junior lawyer, adding "I've not come across anyone really unpleasant yet (there were plenty in my previous firm)." While another staffer said the "consistently friendly and low ego culture has been a major pull".

17th Hogan Lovells, Penningtons Manches, Travers Smith 

A Hogan Lovells lawyer said: "The firm is packed with people, including partners, who genuinely give a sh!t about each other. Having suffered some pretty impactful bereavements this year, my colleagues both inside and outside my team properly had my back."

Penningtons Manches has "a great collegiate culture" said a partner, who believed his fellow partners "genuinely want to help each other in the business and then want to go to the pub with you after. There is no appetite to screw the next generation by flogging off the goodwill to private equity or the markets".

"A fish doesn't know it's in water," said one Travers Smith staffer channelling Confucius. "I sometimes think people here don't all appreciate that, at Travers, the water in which we're swimming is a high-performance culture made up of smart people who like and are kind to each other. It's so much better than my old firms."

20th Baker McKenzie, Debevoise & Plimpton, DLA Piper, Fieldfisher, Herbert Smith Freehills   

A Baker McKenzie staffer commented that the firm is "going in the right direction" to improve the culture. A colleague opined: "We all know BM has a history of appearing on RoF. They are genuinely trying to change that, so we are drowning in emails about IDE initiatives."

At Debevoise & Plimpton, one staffer commended the firm for its "good events and flexibility wfh." While a senior lawyer said: "95% of people I work with are great which is a great deal better than most other workplaces/the world at large."

A DLA Piper trainee said: "Everyone makes a great effort - even the managing partner gets to know everyone." While a lawyer remarked: "Team dependent but my team is superb with a great culture." 

At Fieldfisher, one lawyer reported that the culture was "super friendly with extremely approachable partners and senior management" and "there's no culture of working until insane hours at night, especially for juniors." 

A Herbert Smith Freehills staffer commended their firm, before firing a parting shot at the neighbours: "I can truthfully say it’s a lovely place to work. A few shouty wankers at partner level, which is all part of legal, but considerably fewer than at, say, that large firm who have just moved to Bishopsgate…"

25th Horwich Farrelly, Irwin Mitchell, Weil     

Horwich Farrelly has a "great culture", said one lawyer, adopting the "friendly and old school approach" with "no corporate shit". 

An Irwin Mitchell partner said the firm's "flexible by choice approach" allows staff "to manage work and life priorities, whilst still doing a great job." Although a junior lawyer said that while they were "happy overall" with the culture, they felt there was an "inconsistent application" of the firm's flexibly policy, with some teams more flexible than others. 

At Weil, one lawyer said culture was "heavily dependent on the individual partner personalities" but noted the "good collegiate atmosphere amongst junior associates."

28th Trowers & Hamlins

"A few dinosaurs remain," at Trowers & Hamlins, "but for the most part the senior management are forward thinking and have a welcome attitude to flexible/remote working and adjustments that need to be made for individuals," said one staffer. A partner said the firm "remains at a size where you can know most of the partners" and "there is genuine collaboration across offices and departments".

29th DWF, Howard Kennedy, Macfarlanes

At DWF one staffer commented that there was a "new focus on creating a culture again which was lost in Covid." A partner said "the culture is wobbly at the moment. Being a listed company ruined it, but hopefully it can be rescued." 

Opinion on culture was divided at Howard Kennedy. A trainee thought: "There's more community in a traffic jam in the M25 than there is at this place. It's everyone for him or herself." However, a partner declared: "The firm truly believes that its culture is important and lives and breathes its values.

At Macfarlanes, a newcomer said: "The firm's culture is far less stuffy than outsiders (including recruiters) would have you believe. The reality is that Macfarlanes is both friendly and entrepreneurial." One lawyer opined: "There's not much encouragement to actually go to anything social or show up to events you have agreed to as (some of) the partners seem to not take kindly to not being able to get hold of you at 8:30pm every night.  The associates are generally lovely and supportive though, so the days are, on the whole, pleasant."  

32nd Gowling WLG, Weightmans

"Too much emphasis on promoting D&I, ESG, Pro Bono to the detriment of all else," said one Gowling WLG staffer. "Marketing material is fluffy," said a trainee, "but the vast majority of people are normal and very supportive to trainees". 

"Football supporting men," said a junior lawyer at Weightmans when summing up the culture.  However, a partner described believed "there is genuine cohesion and people support each other and enjoy being together."      

34th Slater and Gordon

A senior lawyer at Slater and Gordon said the firm is "an inclusive place to work, there's a good mix of older lawyers and their younger counterparts, I've not detected anything 'toxic' yet."  Although another lawyer remarked: "The usual corporate caring PR mask, in front of the usual corporate 'get the most billing out of the fewest number of staff' reality. Same as most places." 

35th Mishcon de Reya, Watson Farley & Williams     

At Mishcon de Reya a senior lawyer said the "firm isn't afraid to wear its values on its sleeve, which I love". However, a business services staff member commented: "The culture is still quite nice but the recent change in the London office of moving all fee earners in one building and all support staff to another building has created a strong us vs them feeling on the support staff side that is not being addressed".

At Watson Farley & Williams, staff commented that there had been "a lot of effort" put in "to improve" culture, including "decent parties and team away days." However, there were some murmurings of a divide: "It's better than it was but still hugely segregated between Fee-Earners and Business Services".  

37th  BCLP , Goodwin Procter

A BCLP partner commented that the firm was "trying hard at promoting an inclusive and diverse culture. It has some ways to go but it is at least achieving some notable success, at least at management level, with Segun Osuntokun recently appointed the Global Senior Partner." A senior lawyer commented: "Since last year's ROF results, there has been a big push on culture. More bar nights, games nights, free good, etc which has been a very big improvement!" 

"The firm does actually walk the walk on DEI and generally being a friendly and inclusive place to work," said a Goodwin Procter senior lawyer. While a business services staffer commented: "For the most part the firm has a great culture, but there has definitely been a shift away from the flat structure we once had when we were smaller. Can feel more 'them and us' than it ever used to.

39th Ashurst, Dechert, Kirkland & Ellis, Shoosmiths

A senior lawyer at Ashurst said there was "great culture and people, genuinely warm and caring." While a trainee commented: "Nothing the firm puts out about the culture is a lie". 

"Generally speaking it's a pretty nice place to work," said a Dechert lawyer. "There are a handful of dinosaur partners (as with everywhere) but they're the exception to the norm. We're required to be in 3 days a week in the office which is a fair balance and for the most part people actually enjoy coming into the office as a result".

At Kirkland & Ellis a partner opined: "Delighted that various toxic elements have finally gone". While another agreed: "Far less annoying following recent departures."

"Generally a pretty nice firm," said a Shoosmiths lawyer. "You'll always get the inevitable sprinkling of knobheads (it is a law firm after all) but the vast majority are good people."

43rd Charles Russell Speechlys

"The culture is generally good but some teams can be very toxic with associates who gossip a lot and will say negative things behind others backs," said a Charles Russell Speechlys trainee. "Overall though most teams are good as long as you can find senior fee earners who actually care about your learning and development". A junior lawyer said the "social culture is decent".

43rd CMS, Freeths, Hill Dickinson, Norton Rose Fulbright

"By and large we are populated by genuinely good people, with a supportive and collaborative culture," said a CMS partner. "Lots of D&I initiatives and charity / pro bono baked in to our working lives." A junior lawyer remarked: "The associates in my team are a great bunch and I enjoy working with them. The rest of the firm is meh."

At Freeths, a lawyer reported the culture to be "good as old guard moved on and retired." 

"There is a genuine commitment to diversity," said a Hill Dickinson lawyer. However, a colleague commented: "Lip service is paid towards wellbeing but little is done to demonstrate placing value on personal wellbeing."

A Norton Rose Fulbright  Business Services staffer said: "I do feel the firm is more inclusive than some firms - there seems to be far less of an 'old boys club' culture at the firm," but added, that "lawyers often bemoan the large amount of none fee earners and the 'huge expense', but if more time was spent on addressing junior lawyer utilisation, write offs and commercial client rates then there may be more funds to go around."

48th Stephenson Harwood, White & Case

"There is no culture," remarked a Stephenson Harwood lawyer. "It would be nice if for example my colleagues enjoyed going to the pub occasionally." Another commented: "Culture is team dependent. Some teams are good to work with, others are terrible."

A White & Case business services staff member said: "A lot of thought goes into diversity, equal opportunities and encouraging people to succeed - whatever their background.  We are finally moving away from the 'old boy network' which can only be a good thing." A colleague commented: "Culture is generally good. We are fumbling with return to office though. We should leave at three days and be done with it".

50th Freshfields

One Freshfields respondent commented that the firm "has had a big move away from socials with the scandals that have taken place over the last few years" which was "clearly the right approach at the time".  But they added: "I now think it is time to go back to encouraging people to buy into the firm and their colleagues by encouraging socials outside of the office. This will increase retention and the feeling of being part of the wider firm."

"Only fee earners count," said a business services member of staff. "The way non fee earners are treated is despicable".

51st Clifford Chance

"Normal law firm culture for a big organisation," said a senior CC lawyer. "Good focus on D&I, people are friendly and encourage ideas." A trainee said: "Differs team by team, but the corporate teams are extremely old fashioned and hierarchical. Everyone seems stressed and anxious all of the time, with the partners doing nothing to make the associates feel secure."

52nd Allen & Overy, Eversheds Sutherland

An Allen & Overy senior lawyer commented: "The firm is overly obsessed with DEI, while associate WLB/mental health goes down the drain." Another lawyer said: "A working class or blue collar girl will genuinely struggle". 

At Eversheds Sutherland "lack of work/life balance is the norm," said one lawyer, "and very few are prepared to call out the mismanagement from the top of employee wellbeing."  While a colleague noted: "Not as fun as it used to be". 

54th Mayer Brown, TLT

At Mayer Brown one lawyer said that the culture was "going downhill" with "morale quite low". Another felt that "more can be done to boost morale".

At TLT, one lawyer said the "work from anywhere" policy was  "very accommodating to families." However, another lawyer commented: "Culture overall is great but there are some truly nasty pockets of horrible individuals tucked away in certain teams / offices". 

56th Linklaters 

"Mostly great people, some very, very rotten ones," said one Linklaters lawyer. "The firm is basically the SAS of law," remarked another. "There’s a lot of expectation and a high-achievement culture with a lot of hustle."

56th Ropes & Gray, Squire Patton Boggs

"Losing the daily lunches was a shame, as it really got everyone mixing," said one Ropes & Gray staffer. "I also think the move to 4-days in the office has started a negative wave of feeling amongst all roles".

There was an extreme mixture of views at Squire Patton Boggs, from "Toxic team" to "An extremely friendly bunch, right from the top down. Approachable and nurturing culture you'd be happy to pay to be a part of!"

59th Capsticks, Gateley, Pinsent Masons, Shakespeare Martineau   

"The vibe between the regular lawyers is great," said a Capsticks lawyer. "There are still a few odd ball Partners but they are becoming less and less as they retire or get booted out." 

"Really good people here who care about the work and a good CSR set up," said a junior lawyer at Capsticks, "but team meetings consist of relentless blaming of junior staff for not being at 100% hours, without other issues being discussed, which is pretty depressing." 

"Used to be a decent culture," a Gateley lawyer remarked. "Now not so much. Losing staff at a phenomenal rate and not replacing does nothing to help. Three line whips to come into the office does not sit well."

A Pinsent Masons senior lawyer said: "Lovely people, good culture. D&I is front and centre and is truly authentic." Although one lawyer said: "Trying so hard to be inclusive and pretend it’s not a profit-making law firm, and it’s managing to drive everyone away". 

"Everything thing you read makes the firm look amazing from the outside but inside it’s horrible," said a Shakespeare Martineau lawyer. "Full of rude people."

63rd HFW

"Certainly could do better," said a HFW staffer, "Action on the survey two years ago has still not happened."

A colleague commented: "High fee earners are allowed to run their own empires and the rules don't apply to them." 

64th Clyde & Co, Dentons, Womble Bond Dickinson

At Clyde & Co, one lawyer said: "I joined as a lateral from a silver circle firm and shocked by the lack of collaboration within practice groups. It doesn't inspire confidence from the perspective of progressing into partnership, etc. Otherwise, it's a friendly environment and people are decent." Although another lawyer believed there was an "division in the office" and an "eat what you kill attitude".

A  Dentons senior lawyer commented: "The patchwork nature of the way the firm has been put together (and merger of multiple different firms) means there is still not a global unifying culture." Another lawyer commented that the culture is "very different between teams, with some happy ships and other sinking."

"There is a chaotic mash of cultures," said a Womble Bond Dickinson lawyer, "lip service paid to forward thinking and positive policies, but set against the archaic leadership who fight against those policies in day to day working e.g. promoting a culture of hybrid working which suits each individual, but then line managers dragging you into the office 3 days a week."

A Wombles trainee said that while some departments have a good culture "there are certain teams who slip through the net who have a toxic, arrogant and quiet frankly misogynistic culture. A blind eye is clearly turned due to the money they bring to the firm."

67th Keoghs

"Too focussed on billables. No firmwide networking or social events.," said a lawyer at Keoghs. "Culture within the teams are good but from up above the focus is on growth and hours," said a colleague, "which translates as a huge amount of stress for team members given the demanding hours targets."

68th Reed Smith

"The targets have not really changed in the last three years, but the messaging really has," said a Reed Smith lawyer. "There is now a mandate from on high for partners to chase associates on utilisation regularly, and 'there's no work to do; is not an acceptable answer. The result of this is that doing 1,800 hours now feels like you are just keeping out of the firing line, whereas three years ago you were thanked for putting in a good shift".  A partner agreed: "It used to be great but now too much focus on hours and it's making it less fun." 

69th Slaughter and May

"It’s a real mixed bag," said one Slaughter and May staffer. "Some great people but some really tricky people. It’s clear that the partners came up in very toxic environments and stamping it out will take a very long time."

Another lawyer commented: "The firm keeps trying to push these culture initiatives. Last month they brought us all together to launch new values- it was such BS." While another said: "Increasingly turning to gimmicks like 'bring your dog'...says it all really."    

70th Kennedys

"I feel like Kennedys is all about the big headline announcements that make them sound good but doesn't actually have proper policies in place," said one lawyer. "It loves to say it has given everyone a 'wellbeing day' for instance but when someone is really struggling with mental health (beyond what could be fixed in a day) there is very little support available or leeway allowed on billable hours for example."

"We are told 'be kind be Kennedys' but that doesn't seem to mean anything and if it does then no one abides by it," said another lawyer. 

71st  Knights

"Culture needs some work," said a Knights partner. "It doesn’t know what it wants to be. There is not a lot of openness to challenge things or raise ideas." While another lawyer said: "The more firms acquired, the more the culture is diluted. It’s anything but #Oneteam"

Although even at the second to bottom spot there were some positive comments: "One of the nicest cultures in a law firm. Very rare to see."  

72nd  Paul Hastings

In the last place was Paul Hastings. "Rate of turnover" was the problem, said one lawyer. Another pointed to the influence of the US office eroding the London culture. While one solicitor said new hires from another US firm had "associates questioning their positions."

Find all of the survey stories here.

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Tip Off ROF


The Vivienne 08 March 24 08:44

Clyde’s Clyde’s Clyde’s.  As we said goodbye yesterday to the latest BLM partner to be put on gardening leave we were all left asking the same question: why do we work here?

Arachnae 08 March 24 09:13

A trainee [at Howard Kennedy] thought: "There's more community in a traffic jam in the M25 than there is at this place. It's everyone for him or herself." However, a partner [reading out a prepared statement by Marketing declared]  : "The firm truly believes that its culture is important and lives and breathes its values.’

Anon 08 March 24 09:49

Freshfields culture is so much better than it once was. Partners are generally very approachable and friendly.

Toxic Wombles 08 March 24 10:17

To say the culture at Wombles is toxic and misogynistic is an understatement. They like to pretend to care whilst really it’s all about a certain few partners running the place and doing whatever they want (including screwing over sub-postmasters). 

anon 08 March 24 11:07

There are some stupid law firm names and then there is the law firm called 'Womble'.  Post Office seems like the least of Womble's marketing problems.


not nice people 08 March 24 11:15

@1017. Yes problem Wombles run by not nice people who still think Post Office £60 m and counting is the best thing ever happened to the firm. Overpromoted and current partners ( senior associates really) are just nodding donkeys going along with what they know is not good. That is why they are so unhappy. 

Anon 08 March 24 12:04

Quite how the Wombles aren’t at the bottom of this is astonishing. A mixture of mysogny, poor management and under achievement that should not be allowed in the 21st Century. They’ve failed to make a transatlantic combination work and can’t land a merger for toffee. They need to be taken over so the appalling management can be removed and the few good people who are there might have a chance to survive 

Anonymous 08 March 24 12:09

Lateral hires to Wombles are able to get paid around 15-20% above the market rate because of its awful reputation. 

Obviously you have to ask for it, but it’s there if you do. 


Pleased to see this RoF 08 March 24 12:37

While you've not taken my explicit suggestion of creating a W@nkers per capita ratio (see RoF comments board circa 2011 and subsequent), on the whole I am pleased to see this summary.

What can we do to identify the 'pockets', 'outliers' and 'dickheads' who ruin a team and firm culture to help those who are considering a lateral move or instructing the firm?

Perhaps a survey question that says "In your firm, is there a certain partner or partners that other staff /teams avoid due to their interpersonal behaviour?" 

For those that select Yes, it could be followed by "In your opinion, how far does that partner's/partners' behaviour have an impact: a) Team/Department b) Office c) Entire firm?" 

Anyway, congrats again for trying to get under the skin of firm culture, helpful to align with the firms I want to instruct.

PH Survivor 08 March 24 12:56

It brings me great happiness to see PH now included in these surveys. It must be the worst place in the city

Former FBD 08 March 24 14:07

Sounds like the culture has died at Freshfields, glad I left.  Far better when we hired the right sort of chaps for this line of work, rather than pandering to diversity and god knows what else.

Dirty Old Man 08 March 24 15:29

I'm fascinated by the Kirkland comment - who are the "toxic elements" that left? Sachdev? In which case, why no survey for Weiss?

@Former FBD 08 March 24 15:46

My eyes rolled to hitherto unexplored regions of the inside of my skull reading your comment.

Even the fact that you wrote "right sort of chaps" rather than "right sort of people" tells us everything we need to know. Veiled sexism hidden weakly behind 'meritocracy' - the classic "Old Boys" (TM) approach. 

Good riddance, I say.

BillyBirketts 08 March 24 16:19

The culture at Birketts is da bomb, amgost the best in Norwich. I get my pick of 5 Harveter resturants on my way home, so even my commute is next level. 

Confused 08 March 24 16:44

What in the world happened to Sidley Austin? Were they not at the top of these surveys last year!?

Former FBD 2 08 March 24 16:53

I was in Freshfields HR as part of the Modernise redundancy programme. If you think the culture is good you are lucky or a fee earner. Modernise made a mockery of the firm’s much vaunted values. Management’s only concerns were achieving ridiculous timelines on a shoestring budget and to avoid a works council in Germany at all costs. It had no interest in treat people well, just the financials. People were treated appallingly. The senior partner had no answers at the IT town hall when asked how she squared this with Being Freshfields. [redacted] It was outrageous, and all for nothing - I dare you to find someone at the Firm who thinks IT is better now. 

OCPA 08 March 24 19:15

Guess the glowing words from the OC Business Services staffer was before they started redundancies on the sly with BS middle management and IT managers?  

Anonymous 08 March 24 19:35

Wombles is one of the best law firms in the UK and anyone who disagrees doesn’t work with me in its marketing department. 

Papa John’s 08 March 24 19:42

Capsticks culture is ordering pizza from one of our stores at every opportunity. Our revenue is through the roof! 

This is where you are going wrong Former FBD 2 08 March 24 19:48

It is not true at Freshfields does not live its values. I suggest to you that problem is that you have misunderstood what they mean. 

- 'Excellence Redefined' - this week I did some excellent work and someone else took the credit. My excellence was indeed redefined, as theirs. I have nothing to complain about - my colleague was epitomising the firm's values. CumEx.

- 'Promote Collaboration' - there is a lot of backstabbing to get ahead with the partners in my team, and they do nothing to stop it.  [redacted]

- You have to 'Embrace Challenge' all the time here - difficult partners, unreasonable deadlines, crap IT support etc. You call the survivors brown nosers - have you considered that they simply were willing to embrace certain unsavoury parts of the firm (or management) to the deep extent required to stay?

If the problem is of definitions, are you at all surprised that the senior partner stonewalled awkward questions? She is a Stonewall champion.

Schleicher Freshfields 09 March 24 08:43

In Germany, the Modernise project [redacted]. Good people who served the firm for many years were pulled into a room by management and informed they were leaving. Many colleagues were very hurt about this. There are two categories of large employer in Germany – the ones which respect workers’ codetermination rights and the ones that do not. Unlike many of its clients, the firm does not respect its support staff. It treats us as a threat. The threat is that we exercise our right to a works council. A responsible employer that ‘Promotes Collaboration’ would have set up a works council for many years already without being required to do so by a request from the staff. This is a challenge that must be embraced before the next round of Modernisation.

Mr Hastings 09 March 24 14:15

Re Paul Hastings,  I wonder which new hires from another US firm the respondent was talking about. There’s has only really been one big team hire recently into the London office…. 
There could be some truth to the comment since there have been a lot of departures recently from that department



Anon 09 March 24 15:13

@ 09:49 - reading these comments about Freshfields makes an outsider wonder. If it is so much better now than it used to be, and Freshfields only comes in at 50th, how toxic must it have been before? Now you have 49 better options, some of which are paying much more. Good chance you'd be much happier elsewhere.

Anonymous 11 March 24 09:38

What makes for a poor culture?  It really comes down to the management team.  Poor leadership, poor communication and poor decision making creates a poor culture.

It’s not something which is easily fixed because the people causing the problems are usually unwilling to relinquish control and are so deluded that they think those criticising the culture are the problem. 


Lol @ SPB 11 March 24 13:29

"extremely friendly bunch, right from the top down. Approachable and nurturing culture you'd be happy to pay to be a part of" - a partner definitely wrote this.

Rick the door technician 11 March 24 20:29

One of Capsticks mantras is ‘People First’. Relentless bullying over hours, empty offices, mass redundancies, significantly below market salaries, mass burnout and long term stress induced sick leave. People first? People Last. 

PH Survivor 12 March 24 17:04

Absolute hell. You literally sell your soul for the pay. To them you are a minion that just needs to churn out the work. Night or day. Weekday or not. On annual leave or on a sick day. Talent leaves and they wonder why. 

Anon 13 March 24 09:07

@Anonymous 11 March 09:38 - that is the problem we have at Slaughters, and it will continue until there is more competent, and less vicious, leadership officiating the firm's operations.

Haul Pastings sweaty toiler 14 March 24 15:51

The firm is the utter pits, no doubt the worst in the City. Partnership is the purest bunch of psychopath/sociopath types this side of the Atlantic (and I've worked in NYC BigLaw so have a good comparator at hand).

The money is very good, but when you pump out 2,200+ billable hours in a financial year, work 50+ hours on your one week, 5 working day holiday in the middle of August and lose sleep, friends and fitness because of constant late nights at the office, you realise its about time to jack it in.

I should've listened to the little voice screaming in the back of my head when I attended the job interview(s) - looking at the dead-eyed partners across the table was a warning I did not heed. Alas.

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