She rated the career progression, but not the open plan.
They are usually the happiest contingent of any firm, and partners have been explaining why they love it so much as the RollOnFriday Best Law Firms to Work At 2024 survey gets underway.
Smiting the unworthy does it for some. “All the difficult partners have been slowly pushed out and are now at different firms”, relays an approving partner at BCLP.
Likewise, while “high performers do well” at Hill Dickinson, “poor performers are found out and pay adjusted accordingly', says a partner. "Which is refreshing.”
Money brings a smile to many of their faces, of course. “I do what I want, when I want for more money than I can spend”, boasts a Knights partner. Although, whispers a colleague, "Even though I am a Partner it feels a bit meaningless. I have very little ability to control or influence".
A Kirkland & Ellis partner would only jump ship for “Mucho dollars”, which, given the sums on offer at the US firm, means mucho, mucho dollars.
“After initially making junior partners crawl on their hands and knees for crumbs the pay is pretty decent”, allows a Fieldfisher partner. On top of which, ”from Associate to Partner level there are remarkably few bellends or bastards”.
Unlike the contestants in Squid Game: The Challenge, whose producers it is currently helping to sue, a partner at Express Solicitors adores the "Clear progression criteria for those who perform" at his firm.
Financial strength is a mood enhancer at CMS, which has “doubled profits over 10 years” said a partner there, who adds that “We are rare in being the only form in the global top 20 without a US connection (which may help the supportive culture!)”
Being tied to their firm’s fortunes in new and interesting ways means partners take a keen interest in the accounts. "We don't know owe any money to third parties. No overdraft. Very good drawings. Happy”, summarises a Clarke Willmott partner.
However, the administrative burden can be a drag. “Pay isn’t bad”, says a Shoosmiths partner, but “we don’t get a work pension and have to sort out our own tax returns”.
Reassuringly, pay envy doesn't end even in partnership, in fact it gets worse according to some repsondents. “Junior contract partner pay does not even match Magic Circle”, grouses a new White & Case partner, although at least the new management “is diverse and has the right level of experience”.
“There is a broader market issue with pay, which distorts how satisfied people feel”, says an Osborne Clarke partner. “It is hard to be completely satisfied when faced with stories of US NQs getting paid (nearly) as much as partners and when the pay wars have narrowed the gap between NQs and partners significantly”.
Lewis Silkin's intangible qualities would make it a worthy winner, according to one starry-eyed partner: “our values are kindness and bravery and this shines through right up to our joint managing partners”.
Not everyone is on whatever they put in the drinks at Lewis Silkin, and they've relayed their concerns about preserving their firm’s unique character.
Addleshaw Goddard enjoys a “strong core culture” but it’s “increasingly hard for the younger generation who are reluctant to be in the office to understand and be part of the evolution of that culture”, says a diplomatic AG partner.
“The pre-pandemic culture is in danger of being lost given the very rare attendance of many fee earners at the office”, agrees a Clarke Willmott partner. “New joiners arrive and are rarely seen”.
WFH isn't the only issue giving partners concerns about workplace culture. “Being a listed company ruined it, but hopefully it can be rescued”, says a DWF partner. Management “have finally unpicked the IPO horror (whilst counting their cash) but is it out of the frying pan and into the fire?”
Others also have a wary eye on the future. The culture remains “strong and cohesive” at DLA Piper, “but let's see what happens when Simon Levine's term comes to an end” says a partner at the giant firm.
No such issues at Goodwin Procter, which has “addressed key cultural concerns” by "bringing in external training for microaggressions”.
If that sounds like something your partnership is missing, or not, and you’d like to praise or constructively criticise your firm, take the survey below.