After coming third two years in a row, Shearman & Sterling is the RollOnFriday Firm of the Year 2015.

RollOnFriday's Firm of the Year survey measures the happiness of a firm's staff by letting them vote on how satisfied they are with their pay, work-life balance and career prospects, as well as the opportunites for pro bono work, management's openness with staff, the firm's social calendar and its commitment to diversity. Most importantly, staff also get to rate the loos and meeting room biscuits.

Shearman's victory is well-deserved. Over 150 of its trainees, qualified lawyers and non-fee-earners wrote in to give their verdict. Like any self-respecting US firm, Shearman aced pay. Its 90% mark for salary satisfaction is the third highest in the category, with staff calling their wedge everything from "excellent" to "ridiculously good". A couple suggested that salaries are "falling slightly behind our US competitors", but pointed out that they are still "significantly higher" than the Magic Circle, where the work/life balance "is just the same".

Work/life balance earned the firm its lowest score, a still-decent 75%. Lawyers said the hours are "consistently very long" and that Shearman's measure for 100% utilization "must be amongst the highest in the city". But while those in the corporate department "can expect to work the full 24 hours in a day", one trainee said that she is at least doing "complex and interesting associate-level work" in the wee hours, and others agree that the high quality tasks make up for the "not so occasional late night".

  Shearman & Sterling hears the news

Shearman perfomed excellently across all categories. Staff voted it into fourth place for training & development, with trainees giving credit for being "made to feel an integral part of deal teams" and NQs observing that the firm "seems to genuinely care about associates' development". And the firm absolutely nailed biscuits and bogs, coming first in the former category for its "five different flavours of cookie, baked on the premises daily" and second in the latter, for loos "cleaned throughout the day, so you never walk in to find a nasty surprise".

Complaints were mostly limited to the lack of a canteen and the "arctic" aircon. And one daydreamer sighed that there's "not a great view from the windows". But pretty much everyone seems to agree with the junior associate who claims the firm is a "cut above the rest". As it has proved to be. European Managing Partner Nick Buckworth told RollOnFriday, “I am delighted with this result. Being judged against your peers is the ultimate litmus test for any business and to be reviewed so positively is a great accolade. I think Shearman & Sterling is a great place to work and I am delighted that our lawyers and support team agree so wholeheartedly!

Fellow US firm Mayer Brown came second, earning praise not just for showing staff the money, but for being filled with "great people who like each other" and, er, a managing partner who "looks and sounds like David Cameron".

David Cameron, firm friend of Rebekah Brooks
  Sean Connolly, Firm of the Year 2015 silver medallist

And Bird & Bird, always to be found near the top of the table, took bronze. While the US firms reign supreme on pay, Bird & Bird came third on the strength of its work/life balance, for which it was ranked the best in the UK. Staff say it maintained a "humane approach" to hours and that lawyers are "expected and encouraged" to have a life outside the firm. And just squeaking outside the medals, Burges Salmon took fourth place. Over 250 lawyers from the Bristol firm wrote in, with plenty suggesting that they "couldn't be happier". 

Check back next week for all 52 competing firms' results and a breakdown of performance by category.
Tip Off ROF


Roll On Friday 30 January 15 09:20

Bitter congratulations to Shearman & Sterling...we DLA House Elves spent ages on those toilets...and didn't even get in the top 4! Master won't be happy about this, Piper will be spending most of today ironing his own hands with the laminating machine...

Anonymous 31 January 15 13:39

@20:04 Hear, hear - I've been to Shearman & Sterling for both an Open Evening presentation and an Assessment Centre and the bogs, even on the client floor, are your average fair. Just a room with urinals, toilet cubicles and a few sinks. In comparison, the Pinsent Masons bogs on their client floor were at least equipped with cotton hand towels and lotion...

Roll On Friday 01 February 15 00:41

Really? Admittedly ££££ is better than most but who wants to work at a firm where out of office/voicemail for holiday is not policy. All work and no play ...

Anonymous 02 February 15 11:33

They fold the loo paper over into a neat triangle for you. Genuinely. It's like being at a boutique hotel.

Anonymous 03 February 15 09:57

run, rabbit, run... dig that hole, forget the sun; and when at last the work is done, don't sit down it's time to dig another one.

Roll On Friday 03 February 15 10:56

S&S best firm? For automatons, yes. Lawyers are a very strange breed indeed.

Anonymous 27 February 15 11:50

Woohoo! We definitely deserved to win :-)