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Supervisors are always on hand.

Over 4,200 legal staff have completed the RollOnFriday Best Law Firms to Work At Survey, so far. The form is below - it's time to say whether your firm has been naughty or nice this year.

Career development is one area covered in the survey, and respondents have been addressing favouritism. "Promotion is reserved primarily to those who are 'in' with the management," said a Clarke Willmott senior associate. A Kennedys lawyer noted: "The partners are not ashamed to choose favourites - invariably, those who look and sound like them."  

Many associates didn't feel valued at their firm. "There is no discussion or support for career development," said a senior associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. "In essence associates are a form of well remunerated labour force who are worked till they burn out or leave, and are then replaced."

A Plexus Law associate said they were "in the legal equivalent of the elephant's graveyard" when it came to development.

"Staff are left to fester, there are very few opportunities to progress and junior but talented staff are not let anywhere near the clients," said a Keoghs lawyer. "Unless you’re going to take a client with you if you leave, you’re just another worker ant grinding the hours out." 

A Squire Patton Boggs associate also bemoaned the lack of progression. "It’s been going nowhere fast for a while." They said the firm had an attitude of "if you don't like it leave", and that "associates that have stayed for a while often get thought of as a bit useless because we haven’t already left".

Associates complained of a clogged up partnership. "Unless you are one of the very few chosen few you won’t get anywhere," said a senior lawyer at Burness Paull. "Most are too greedy to share."

"I have no chance of progression as the main partner I work with is the 'gatekeeper' type that is positively encouraged into that sort of behaviour here," said a senior lawyer at Watson Farley & Williams

Travers Smith associate rued the attitude of a partner who gets senior lawyers to stay "by misleading them about their prospects of being promoted. Once they've got through the deal or case in question, they have no qualms about managing them out with a cheeky little dagger in their backs as a leaving gift", they said.

At Mishcon de Reya, an associate highlighted problems created by the shelved IPO: "Not great prospects as the partnership is now chock-a-block due to hasty conversion (5 days' notice) of all salaried legal directors to the equity for IPO tax reasons and the massive promotion round to partnership last year of senior managing associates (and not so senior for partners favourites - 6PQE) so they got into the partnership pre-IPO for the share issue. Created a hugely situation for an IPO scheme that is now defunct!"

A Freeths associate also said that their firm was "very top heavy...with the greasiest ladder going. Barriers to promotion include not beating targets by 50% +, daring to ask for better pay, not handing over any new clients won immediately to a partner so they can profit from it, and being a genuinely nice human being who doesn’t want to shit on everyone beneath them."

At CMS a senior lawyer also complained of a "top-heavy" structure with "little opportunity to progress. Only a small number of partners seem to bring in work; or it comes from the institutional base. Junior partners and senior associates practically do the same job, which causes confusion and frustration."

Many business services staff across firms voiced their frustration at the lack of career progression opportunities. "In business services unless you are firmly wedged up someone's backside, there is no career development," said a staffer at Clifford Chance. "They bring in the 'wokearati' and fill the jobs with people they think they should be employing, who actually know next to nothing about the role."

A Womble Bond Dickinson business services member of staff said: "No career progression at all. The only way I feel I would get a promotion is saying I am leaving and then of course they'll offer me what I have been asking for - and rightly deserved - for years. Why does the firm respond to threats rather than rewarding loyalty?"

"Absolutely no career development if you’re in business services. You just get fobbed off all the time," said a Slater and Gordon business services member of staff. "They’ve recently started treating the lawyers better as they need them to stay as they’re about to sell".

Trainees generally gave positive comments about career development at their firms, as they had not yet been worn down by the machine eyed the future with optimism. 

"As a trainee, we get a trainee buddy, an associate buddy and a thorough training programme put together by our professional development team," said a Shearman & Sterling trainee. "I also appreciate how HR check in on us and have put together well-being programmes with a specialist psychologist as part of the 'Thrive at Shearman' package".

"As a trainee I have not been left to endless document reviews - or filing - or photocopying," said a DWF trainee. "I have been given real work to do involving liaising with other law firms, counsel and businesses.  I have had the guidance of highly experienced solicitors and support staff alike who have always been willing to help and answer any of my endless questions!"

An enthusiastic Trowers & Hamlins trainee seemed able to recite a line possibly provided by HR: "Over 60% of current partners trained at the firm; informally called 'Trowers Lifers' The message is clear: invest your time at the firm and treat it like your own and it will be one day." 

Slaughter and May trainee said the firm had explained the route to partnership, as well as, erm, telling them how to leave: "We have had a number of sessions on exactly how the partner track works and other exit routes despite being trainees." 

A Slaughter and May associate clarified that there was "a new maturity around the fact that many people do leave at a relatively early stage" and that "has gone a long way to opening up the conversation around advancement." They suggested the firm had "the shortest equity partnership track in the City by some margin".

DLA Piper, partner was singled out for going "above and beyond to push me up the ladder", while a TLT partner said "In spite of the endless list of development programmes that keep changing and appear to have been named by reject candidates for 'The Apprentice', career development is a real strength of the firm. They know how to spot talent and encourage it to flourish, not see it as a threat to the seniors."

A Hogan Lovells lawyer summed up how they viewed development opportunities: "The career progression of a lawyer is always a bit weird. You essentially have 5 potential promotions in a 40 odd year career and (more than in other industries) progression can depend on external factors. Having said this, I think Hogan Lovells has made an effort to 'demistify' this programme and the 'renewed' HL Dialogue process (they do seem to change it every year) did seem to work well this year." 

How greasy is the pole to the top at your firm? Have your say below.

Tip Off ROF


Ex-SM 09 December 22 08:41

Despite what people might think, Slaughters have always been very open and supportive about partnership prospects - "you'll make a great partner... one day... somewhere else".

Anonymous 09 December 22 09:17

Womble Bond Dickinson boast that they have always have a Dickinson in the partnership. 

Personally I don’t think that is something to boast about. It should be regarded as a warning sign about the firm’s promotion system. 

Anonymous 09 December 22 09:31

At Addleshaws you get a nice mix of having to working really long hours, bring your own work in and having to wait for years in line, only for the firm to bring in lots of overpriced laterals who have no following 

Then they wonder why the senior non partners are disgruntled and leaving in droves 

Anonymous 09 December 22 09:52

What exactly do all these disgruntled "business services" staff think they're going to get promoted to? Chief Photocopying Assistant? 

Anon 09 December 22 10:00

Anonymous 09:52, don’t be a pompous tosser. If nothing else, the Metamorph debacle shows that law firms can’t function without business services. 

Anonymous 09 December 22 10:26

@09:52 - law firms wouldn't operate for a single day without IT staff to cover how useless lawyers are with tech, and finance staff to actually pay you, suppliers and move money to/from clients. The top business services staff in any firm (CFO, CPO etc.) will all earn more than a disgruntled associate that has no chance of partnership. It's not ridiculous for Business Services bods to want to understand their own career progression.

🧨 The Spark, Newcastle 09 December 22 10:37

If you’re not good enough to make partner at a firm, so you leave, that’s fine. 

However if you return a few years later, the firm should not issue a press release about how it’s a major win.

It is not. To everyone else it is just evidence that the firm is on a downward trajectory.

Anonymous 09 December 22 10:42

Always amazing how supposedly 'commercial' lawyers on earnings that put them in the top 5% of the country are so naive about the way their own organisations work.

"I don't bring in any work, show no signs of going anywhere, and yet can't understand how my boss can resist the opportunity to promote me to a role that would see him splitting a revenue share with me forevermore!

Why is he the stupid one!!!?"

Gobblepig 09 December 22 10:45

How typical that a Hogan Lovells lawyer would think it was spelt "demistify". Sounds like s/he works in a car-wash.

Anon 09 December 22 10:46

Yes Anon @ 09.52, it was the Chief Photocopying Assistant who made sure your IT worked when you were WFH during the pandemic. It’s the Chief Photocopying Assistant who makes sure everyone (including you) gets paid on time each month, etc. etc.

Wise up 09 December 22 11:08

Partners across all firms fob associates off, if they can get away with it (i.e. if the associates just plough on and never threaten to leave).

It's in the partners interests to have a work horse doing the bulk-load for them, while the partners make promises of progression and keep the carrot dangling just ahead, with no intention of ever giving the associate the carrot.

This should be the first lesson in any career development talk at firms.

STB doyen 09 December 22 11:09

STB is no doubt the strongest firm in the city in terms of technical prowess and deal flow. Naturally, under-performers get the boot but the majority of us stay for a long time because there is no better place out there. People who have actually worked opposite us on levfin and funds would know how good we are. 

Not everyone is fit to be a partner and on that basis the comment made by the “Senior Associate” is not entirely fair. 

Gobblepig 09 December 22 11:22

"STB is no doubt the strongest firm in the city in terms of technical prowess".

What?! You deluded little sucker  STB aren't even on the map in my practice area. 

Anonymous 09 December 22 12:02

Wtf is 'deal flow'? 

Sounds like something an associate who thinks their job is actually important would say as they print off another precedent 


Anonymous Knight 09 December 22 12:05

Nothing mentioned about Knights and how greasy the pole is within this cult… oops sorry… firm! 

STB Associate 09 December 22 12:23


Then your practice area is probably some low margin shite like employment or insurance that an elite firm like STB has 0 interest in. 

Anonymous 09 December 22 12:44

Some of these comments are hilarious and demonstrate just how deluded/chippy some lawyers are. But the second comment @8.49 is spot on. And this is true for an career development, not just the legal profession. 

Lol @STB 09 December 22 12:48

Yeah STB do an amazing job of rolling out the same credit agreement for their 3 clients deal after deal.

”pls find attached first draft - send sig pages within 15 mins thx”

“Shall we have a call to discuss our comments?”

”No comments accepted”

”The borrower’s name is wrong and there are 500 references to a different deal”

“No comments accepted”

The associates in their lev fin team don’t know anything because the partners do all the drafting on the main docs. They also make up about one partner every 400 years. Dire.

Wokerati 09 December 22 13:05

What is it with CC and societal progress? Every story about the firm over the past few weeks has been about partners and employees complaining about ESG and D&I. I know the firm is losing ground, but things can't be that dire that they've all turned into mini Farages...surely!

In the know 09 December 22 13:10

Freeths was the firm where at a partner conference one speaker made a racist joke and another introduced themselves as “head of porn” before showing photoshopped pictures of female staff members and none of the partners attending stood up and complained.

Therefore the disgruntled Freeths associate might want to consider acting like Roy Chubby Brown in order to improve their promotion prospects. 

Flawed Homo Sapiens 09 December 22 13:11

Lawyers lamenting about the fundamentally flawed nature of humanity (greedy, pushy, exploitative, dishonest)... who'd have thunk? 

Business Service Type 09 December 22 13:11

As one of those business services types, can I just say thank you to all the lawyers out there? Your inability to plug in your computer, do elementary mathematics, get to scheduled appointments, work out what's owed to you and so forth has fashioned a career for me. god bless you all.

An observer 09 December 22 13:29

Quite a bold statement to say that your firm is the “strongest” in the city: might be true if K&E, Latham, CC, FF, Links, A&O, Cahill, Akin, Ashurst, HSF etc aren’t in existence.

Contrary to your belief, profitability doesn’t equate market standing. Stop talking drivel and back to your sponsor docs x.

Everybody’s got to learn 09 December 22 13:40

You can always guarantee some WBD kicking on these pages and for very good reasons too. My thoughts as one who has experience of that particular toilet are thus:

Some very talented people get overlooked, some certifiable idiots get promoted again and again, narcissistic lunatics prosper and decent people fall between the cracks time and time again  - all classic traits of a firm beset by near-terminal issues. The fact there is always a Dickinson in the partnership says it all: it’s old fashioned, out of touch, decrepit, stale - you name it.

The firm needs gutting in several areas: HR director, management (more of the same, you say? Vote him in!), practice group heads - get shot of the lot. With one or two exceptions, they’re hopelessly out of their depth, have been there too long, have no backbone, no charisma, are bloated and lazy, or are a poisonous mixture of all of the above. Bring through some of the genuine talent before it does what everyone that has gone before has done (leave), give them some freedom to implement the changes that are needed and watch the place get to where it should be given the things it does have going for it (some great lawyers in parts (some truly useless ones too), good offices, good support staff, American tie up) rather than being a laughing stock, perennial butt of jokes on RoF and hated by the legal community.

Failure to do that equates to a prolonged and deserved death, with the only hope being that the good folk escape and that it takes some of the horrendous inhabitants of the place with it when it goes down.

Gobblepig 09 December 22 14:06

@STB Associate 09 December 22 12:23

It's Corporate and Commercial Litigation (London), where STB are, uh, unranked. Off you toddle. 

Gonna be disliked 09 December 22 14:20

The IT systems in law firms are quite simple compared to say a Tier 1 Bank. Don't run away with the idea that your Head of IT is top of the tree when it comes to all things electronic. They all trade off the fact most lawyers don't know a thing about computers or networks.

Anonymous 09 December 22 14:36

Plenty of career development opportunities at Plexus. They need a Head of Casualty, Head of Cat Loss, Head of Fraud, Head of TPA, and the list goes on. Shame they can’t replace the two [redacted] running the show. 

STB Master Race 09 December 22 15:08

@Gobblepig - well exactly, that's hideously small-time parochial stuff.

STB is rolling large on the High Value Corporate and Commercial Litigation (International) circuit.

Wouldn't open your files if you paid us.



Which you would if you could afford it.

US lawya 09 December 22 15:13

So true about STB! They are highly paid bums on seats. Associates are churning out the precedent docs for partners who don't care about their career advancement whatsoever! They do this for a few years until they have enough mula to leave. It's def not a long term place to be. The partners are all homogeneous- they make the odd associate up from time to time who is an exact replica. 

Not a trainee 09 December 22 15:26

I honestly don't know why trainees feature in articles like this. Trainees have no idea how the firm they work at actually operates. They're just treated like superstars so that they are encouraged to stay and join the legion of over-worked worker bees - shock-horror, trainees always come out with very positive comments, whilst everyone else gives a more jaded (realistic) view of their employer. Trainees don't get a glimpse of reality and so shouldn't really be feeding into questionnaires like this.

Anon 09 December 22 15:44

I am assuming that “STB is no doubt the strongest firm in the city in terms of technical prowess and deal flow” is written either (a) as a joke or (b) by a junior who doesn’t know anything about either point.  

Even those firms who do, in fact, have a claim for possessing strong technical prowess (ever heard of Slaughters? Other MC, SC and other US firms?) wouldn’t ever be so arrogant to claim they are the strongest.  

Now, run along back to your proof reading task. If you’re lucky you might even get to amend a date or misplaced comma. 


Sherwin 09 December 22 15:57

To fix Womble Bond Dickinson I would:

1. change the marketing. Nobody believes WBD is anyone’s first choice, nor that it leads the profession. 

2. admit that the firm is not transatlantic. It’s just white labelling. The US firm has separate accounts, so is a separate firm that very occasionally refers work. 

3. Move the Newcastle office. Most of the problems stem from the Newcastle office thinking it runs the show. In reality Dickie Dees was a woeful business that was forced into a merger. Put those boasters in Newcastle into their place by moving the office to Sunderland, Durham, Stockton or Hexham.

Anonymous 09 December 22 18:03

"Quite a bold statement to say that your firm is the “strongest” in the city: might be true if K&E"


Thanks @An observer.  I needed that.

Fly by Knight 10 December 22 04:53

@ Anonymous Knight - we have been silenced by our grand leader. 

Looks like ROF has had the same treatment/threats

Ex Plexus 10 December 22 10:26

I would agree with the comment that career profession at Plexus Law is an ‘elephants graveyard’. I was kept down, the scope of my work load was extremely narrow, I was kept away from clients and had little input from seniors. In other words I trained myself and realised I was going no where fast. I wondered whether the plan was to keep you down on low pay and as deskilled as possible so that you couldn’t leave ? You would essentially be unhireable? However If your face fit you could get promoted from trainee to partner within 12 months. It was bizarre. Luckily I saw the light of day. Left for a fresh start elsewhere. The difference is incredible. It was so bad, I’m now happy at work, just slightly traumatised by my time at Plexus!

Elite sour grapes crusher 10 December 22 12:12

Funnily enough, STB has the highest PEP in the city and is unquestionably one of the most prestigious firms in the world. Nuff said, my learned friends.

Aviation King 10 December 22 14:44

The only way to progress at Plexus Law is to be a non lawyer working in a department that doesn’t provide any legal services, fee income or value added 😂

The Real Realist 10 December 22 18:01

Nice to see the Plexus haters are back in action. We’re complimented by your hated and obsession with us 😉


Keep on gardening 😀

To 10.26 am today 10 December 22 18:05

You oversold it my friend - clearly you are a hater. 
Good luck since you move from Plexus. Hope it works out. Just leave us to do our thing now you have found nirvana. 
Lots of love. xxx

Scotchy Scumbag 10 December 22 21:41

I vote to put Dickie Dees' Newcastle office in Two Ball Lonnen just because it seems the right place....

London Bridgerton 10 December 22 21:43

Anyone know why the very many s*****s at Howard Kennedy have yet again escaped censure?

Word to the wise 10 December 22 21:53

Important lesson: Never let Private Equity in to a law farm.

REALLY IMPORTANT LESSON: if you do, make sure they are not crazed and understand how a ‘people business’ works.

# Failed Law Firm

Ho ho ho 10 December 22 23:06

10.26 :


don’t you get it?

kept away from clients?


if you are kept away they aren’t your clients! Sorry, harsh but true. If you aren’t close they aren’t yours. It’s a bit like parenting.

sob sob - my friend kept me away from my Client. It’s her client !!!!!!!!

Costs God (honest) 10 December 22 23:06

Two words to describe the Plexus Leadership Team:


ps. Have I ever mentioned to anybody I’m always poorly?

Bolton babe 10 December 22 23:08

Special K. I love it for breakfast. The Partners in Bolton think it’s them. 

😉had a few for breakfast. 

ps - glad Keoghs made the survey this year. 

To 18.05 10th December 11 December 22 16:52

“Your thing” as you put it will be to panick and then cry when the Administrators come looking following the inevitable collapse # Plexus/Parabis 2.0


Rack and Troll 11 December 22 18:02

It is obvious to Plexus insiders that someone is posting comments using code. Clearly a disgruntled ex employee. There’s a few of them since the clear out. Shame really. Imagine being that sad that you’d waste energy and time actively trying to harm an organisation. Says more about them than Plexus. 

Ag partner 12 December 22 07:04

39 people 'liked' the comment about lack of progression at AG 

Seems there is a big problem 

Better go recruit some more expensive laterals to solve it 

Anon 12 December 22 07:31

You do the same role from day 1 to your last day as business services. That’s why most people are there , dead wood 9-5 lifers which seek out stable but limited roles. My 14 years at 4 firms (2 large ) qualifies me to say this. 

Aanonymous Knight 12 December 22 10:40

Fly by Knight 10 December 22 04:53

@ Anonymous Knight - we have been silenced by our grand leader. 

Looks like ROF has had the same treatment/threats


A 'cult leader' can create silence - his followers must obey! I overheard the word nepotism recently. Wonder which office that was in!!

To Rack and Troll @ 11 December 12 December 22 19:29

Was it really your intention to confirm the comments by Anon @ 9 December 14:36? A clear out?! I think your comments say far, far more about the culture at Plexus. Scary and far from enticing. 

Knighty knight 13 December 22 03:58

Get into the office you day time telly watching shirkers.  Having you commuting for hours every day will put you back in your places and bring us Xi like control over our expensively acquired but ever shrinking empire.  
Random spot check paper audits and window blind feng shui inspections have been put back onto the controlling behaviour agenda.  
No office will escape our odd-ball scrutiny. 

You have been warned. 


Only a flesh wound 13 December 22 08:11

News reaches me that Plexus keeps losing panel appointments.  Apparently there’s another big client loss just over the hill.  
Will history repeat itself?

It certainly looks that way.


Je Suis Monty Don l'Autobus 13 December 22 10:25

More of these frustrated senior associates should strike out on their own and establish new commercial firms. The City market, certainly, could do with a bit of new competition.

Prancer 13 December 22 13:24

Freeths got a lot of stick for that partner announcing himself as Head of Porn and then showing slides of women joining the firm which has been photoshopped to look like Baywatch girls, whilst other partners clapped and cheered. 

But some have said it’s not indicative of a problem with the culture of the firm. 

Presumably neither is the fact that the defendant in this trial was, until recently, a Freeths partner?

The Dark Knight 13 December 22 14:06

Window Blind Feng Shui Inspections




Knighty Knight if you know you know 😂

plexuslover 13 December 22 15:47

I am not a Plexus hater. Far from it. I loved it there for quite a long period. I left on my own terms due to the sad and sorry state it has gotten itself into. Its devouring itself, due mainly to the poison that has been brought by private equity. I hope for the people still there that I care about that it turns around or someone comes in and saves them. 


some of the comments above, on both sides of the fence (and most likely from senior people) is just embarrssing. 

Knight at the museum 13 December 22 16:31

5 days a week in the office?  30 bodies huddled together for warmth looking out over swathes of empty desks knowing that by this time next year, it will be down to 20 bodies because of this 5 day week nonsense.  

Plexuslover’s love child 13 December 22 19:14

Thank you for your misplaced concern, Plexuslover. With no debt, net client wins (some come, some go) this year and a whole host of new people in place you might find Plexus is quite different to what it was a few years ago. There is a lot of change happening at present. But that’s what modernisation looks like. 

Flesh wounds (to quote another hater, above) happen to every firm from time to time. Remember that. Keoghs lost a big one recently in the credit hire space, for example. It just is what it is. 

As you are not a hater ( so you say!) why join the pile on? I fear you’ve tried too hard to be balanced once again. #StillFlatteredByTheAttention


Pray for Plexus lol 13 December 22 21:09

That made me laugh.  I don’t think it will help.  The damage has been done.  
The wrong horses have been backed.  They just don’t know it yet…….

Anonymous 14 December 22 10:41

Rank these firms in order:




Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP

Quality Solicitors

Womble Bond Dickinsens 

Knight in the Museum 2 15 December 22 15:39

Get into the office you day time telly watching shirkers.  Having you commuting for hours every day will put you back in your places and bring us Xi like control over our expensively acquired but ever shrinking empire.  
Random spot check paper audits and window blind feng shui inspections have been put back onto the controlling behaviour agenda.  
No office will escape our odd-ball scrutiny. 

You have been warned

I hear going into the office doesn’t always mean working in a Midland’s office. Window blind feng shui twitching might have observed some time-logs not as full as you’d expect! Perhaps behaviour management was off the agenda then! 

Fly by Jared 15 December 22 19:04

See him there,

The keyboard warrior,

See him there, the keyboard chief, chief, chief.

Lost any panel places lately?  There’s more to come.  Grotbags and her hubby will end up selling it for bugger all. 

Plex the debt 16 December 22 08:22

“No debt”.  As bless.  And that my friend is why you are a pi lawyer.  Look harder…….

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