'Gentlemen. How did we get here?'
A year of disruption has tested the ability and willingness of firms to keep their people happy. The results of the RollOnFriday Firm of the Year 2021 results, released today, show which firms have come up with a miracle vaccine, and which are wandering around with a mask over their eyes.
RollOnFriday's annual poll doesn't care how many FTSE clients a firm has, or the numbers of star partners it lured from Brag & Spindle LLP. As befits the online home of the legal community, it cares about how happy a firm's people have been over the last 12 months.
Keystone Law has been crowned RollOnFriday Firm of the Year 2021. Built on principles of remote working, keep-what-you-kill and work-when-you-like, its unorthodox structure appeared designed for a Covid-afflicted landscape.
In which case, perhaps even more credit should be given to the traditional, bricks and mortar firms which somehow managed to keep their people delighted amongst so much upheaval. Top of that heap are Shearman & Sterling, Ropes & Gray, DAC Beachcroft and RollOnFriday Firm of the Year 2020 (and 2019 (and 2018)) Mills & Reeve, which all came joint second with barnstorming 88% scores - higher than the highest mark from last year.
Their outstanding showing will be examined in the coming weeks, along with the performances of all the other firms in the survey, some of whom did not fare quite so well. Slater and Gordon achieved the lowest ranking and is duly anointed the Golden Turd (for the second year in a row). Check for your firm in the overall rankings:
54 firms made the threshold this year, backed by responses from over 5,000 lawyers and business services staff who graded their satisfaction with their pay, their career development, their work/life balance, and with their firm's management, its culture, and its response to Covid-19.
For each of the six categories, respondents picked whether they were 'very satisfied', 'satisfied', 'neutral', 'dissatisfied' or 'very dissatisfied'. RollOnFriday converted each selection into a percentage (100%, 75%, 50%, 25% and 0% respectively), crunched the numbers and panicked when a toddler ran into the room and turned the computer off at the plug.
Reflecting a population gone stir-crazy in lockdown, the results are more polarised than the previous year, when Covid was just a tingling feeling between a pangolin and a bat. Staff at just three firms scored under 50% in the RollOnFriday Firm of the Year 2020 survey, compared to ten firms this year, including two Magic Circle firms. Conversely, 23 firms registered scores of 75% or higher in this year's survey, compared to 17 firms the year before.
But readers will be reassured to learn that the overall satisfaction of different bands has remained largely unchanged, with partners pleased as punch at the top, and junior solicitors grousing at the bottom.