"Thanks trainee for the feedback. I'll be sure to take it on board."

Around 3,800 respondents have completed the RollOnFriday Best Law Firms to Work at 2023 survey so far. If you have yet to do so, grab a mince pie, nuke its fillings to a hot lava state, and enjoy/scold your mouth while filling in the boxes below.

The current crop of trainees (aka the partnership of 2035) have been giving their views on their respective firms. 

Burges Salmon trainees have largely been very positive about the firm's management: "Excellent leadership, particularly in the context of flexible working and WFH policies," said one. "The firm couldn't be better on those fronts from what I have experienced". 

Fellow Bristol headquartered firm, Osborne Clarke, was also praised for its management: "The culture really comes from the top down. Ray Berg is a legend, and he will be sorely missed." 

Trainees at some other firms were less impressed. "Senior management don't seem to be in touch with their staff," said an Irwin Mitchell trainee. "Lots of ideas (some good and so not so good) are talked about at length, but in reality teams continue to lose people due to being underpaid/overworked."

With Covid lockdowns seeming like some weird distant cheese-dream, trainees have been settling back into their offices. A Burges Salmon trainee noted that the firm offers a "Friday cake trolley" a "gin trolley in the Edinburgh office", and a "dangerously good canteen with lots of options."

"The free food is the biggest perk at White & Case," said a trainee at the US firm. "Getting all three meals plus snacks and coffee for free makes such a difference, makes it worthwhile coming into the office and takes a massive stress off our plates." While a trainee at Clyde & Co approved of the firm's "lovely" red velvet cake.

Food cravings aside, one Travers Smith trainee bemoaned the lack of space at their workplace: "Six people sharing an office the size of my bedroom. I’m currently sat at a desk that would previously only have been used in a pinch for someone like a vacation schemer."

A Macfarlanes trainee was equally dismayed: "The office is crap and we are spread out over 4 sites which is logistically frustrating.  Aesthetically it’s no where near up to the standard of peers...It’s so clearly time for the firm to move however the grey hairs at the firm love the location for nostalgia so doubt we are moving anytime soon."

Trainees also opined on the culture at their firms. "After hearing all the stories you hear about Slaughters I was prepared for the worst but in reality, it's been brilliant," said a trainee at the Magic Circle firm. "The only part that maybe is true is the level of geekiness, but everyone is lovely. I really feel like not having billable hours targets changes the way people think."

A White & Case trainee said the firm was "not stuffy at all" and had a "very diverse range of trainees who each bring something different to the table rather than everyone being Oxbridge mates-of-mates."

Conversely, a trainee at another US firm said: "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world Ropes & Gray has a great culture".

A Watson Farley & Williams trainee gave their firm a low rating for culture: "Some people are totally miserable and overworked, as a result their crappy attitude rubs off and it becomes part of the general atmosphere. Socials in some departments feel forced - not a genuine social culture."

A Hogan Lovells trainee said a partner known for their "bullying behaviour" regularly posted on LinkedIn about how they are "kind, caring and honest". And "adding insult to injury the posts usually include a professionally taken photo...where she is doing something weird like staring at an empty coffee cup with a smirk on her face that looks like she just silently passed wind and is waiting for the smell to drift over to you".

A Trowers & Hamlins trainee complained that trainee supervisors were uninterested, and that the firm's Training Partner was "asleep at the wheel" as she barely spoke to the cohort of trainees "during our whole training contract".

Trainees also reflected on the wedge offered by their firm. "Lets be honest, lawyers get paid too much - I'm happy," said a trainee at Plexus. "I can’t complain about 50k at my age with the modest hours I’ve been doing," said a satisfied Latham & Watkins trainee. 

"We had a raise last year and get a bonus of about 8%," said a trainee at Travers Smith. "I know some firms don’t give trainees bonuses at all so I’m happy with that."

"When you factor in the work-life balance and the better cost of living in Bristol, I feel like trainee pay is a very, very good deal compared to my friends in the City, who may be paid slightly more but are really made to work for it," said a trainee at Burges Salmon. While another noted: "We have had pay rises with inflation which is good".  

There were grumbles elsewhere over salary. A Womble Bond Dickinson trainee said: "We are overdue a pay rise particularly when taking into account inflation and the sizeable pay increases the rest of the firm (except trainees and NQs) received in May... no doubt the recession will be quoted as the reason why". They added that "some of the lowest paid in the firm" would "be made worse off during an economic downturn...maybe we are being advised by Liz Truss (and we all know how well that went)."

A Dentons trainee said: "A petty firm when it comes to money. They dragged their feet and were forced to raise NQ and paralegal pay after the market changed and almost all of their best NQs and paralegals left." 

A TLT trainee said that trainee pay and NQ pay "is lower than our competitors, even with a slight increase this month due to the cost of living." They raised the issue with management "but to no avail". The trainee said the response was "disappointing considering the firm is doing so well financially" and that many trainees "are planning to move to higher paying firms once qualified." Another agreed: "Pay reviews are measly which is confusing considering how much the firm talks about being proud about their increased profits and growth."

An Irwin Mitchell trainee said that although the firm had given pay rises: "The only problem is every other firm has raised their salaries as well, and by more, meaning that IM once again remains back of the pack for national firms in terms of pay."

Whether you're a fresh-faced trainee or a long in the tooth lawyer, take the survey below.

Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 02 December 22 08:44

My team is bullied by our boss. We complained and were told it is our fault and our "interpretation" of the behaviour.

Anonymous 02 December 22 09:10

Yet more cultish comments from Bristol firms (BS, OC and TLT) when it comes to the Roll on Friday survey. 

What’s going on? Something seemed to change around 3 years ago. Maybe absolutely everything is wonderful, but I’d be interested to hear what isn’t great, for once. 

Anonymous 02 December 22 09:30

“Getting all three meals plus snacks and coffee for free makes such a difference, makes it worthwhile coming into the office and takes a massive stress off our plates.”

 The massive stress of…buying lunch?

Anonymous 02 December 22 09:35

A definite case of Stockholm syndrome from the trainee praising the “all 3 meals at day” provision at W&C. If you’re there from before breakfast until after dinner the very least they can do is feed you!

Anonymous 02 December 22 09:45

The Trowers trainee needs to learn the different meanings of disinterested and uninterested.

Anonymous 02 December 22 09:46

@Anonymous 09.10 

I lasted about 2 years at BS pre-Covid before moving back to a London based firm. Honestly, I was convinced everyone there had Stockholm syndrome and there always seemed to be a vibe of 'if the hours are this bad here, how much worse would they be in London...' I never worked out why it does so well each year on the ROF annual survey. 

Anon 02 December 22 09:48

Really sad that anyone would think eating all meals in the office and not socialising with other people outside the firm or having outside interests is in any way  healthy.  

Where's my cake? 02 December 22 09:51

"While a trainee at Clyde & Co approved of the firm's "lovely" red velvet cake."


In the regional offices, the best we got were comically dry post-merger cupcakes with little discs on top, on which the firm's baffling and unnecessary merger slogan ("Stronger As One", as if we're a fucking rugby team) had been printed. The discs were not edible. I think they might actually have been printer paper.

Angry person 02 December 22 09:55

Can confirm that the mood at TLT is not positive - juniors are furious at the pay situation.  Even more so given TLT's PEP is now £840k (higher than the likes of BS, OC, NRF, AG, Pinsents and so on).

big smoke 02 December 22 10:01

The decent Bristol firms have pushed up trainee pay a lot.  There isn't a huge gap between NQ pay and senior associate pay anymore at these shops.  The training contracts are quite good and the people and culture are both nice, which equals a decent ROF survey score.  I suspect the only grumbles from those firms are going to be from the senior associates who are all underpaid, compared to their London peers on the other side of each deal they do. 

Anonymous 02 December 22 11:07

Is Wombles pay bad?  A recruiter suggested to me that they have to pay a bit of a premium because… well, it’s obvious isn’t it.

Anon 02 December 22 11:53

Yea velvet...because a great enviroment to place all depends on red velvet cakes and free coffee...pfff

Elf on the shelf 02 December 22 12:35

Glad to see WFW making an appearance,  should be some interesting comments from this firm...

Anonymous 02 December 22 13:21

"Lots of ideas (some good and so not so good) are talked about at length, but in reality teams continue to lose people due to being underpaid/overworked."

Isn't that an exact description for most bigger law firms?

Anon 02 December 22 13:44

Not an ideal state of affairs where the one good thing about a firm as a junior is overpriced red velvet cake

anon 02 December 22 14:47

I agree that pay at WBD is shocking, i've had other law firms approach me with salary offer over £20K what I am on now and that's outside London!! 

W&C Anon 02 December 22 15:22

@9.30 and 9.35


You can get your free breakfast at any time until 10.30am (fully cooked + continental) and dinner as early as 6pm. Not exactly stockholm syndrome hours. Sure its not michellin star (though the certain counter snacks/cakes are pretty top tier), but of all the things to fairly criticise W&C for, its not a blanket policy of free food and drink for all staff all week.

Mr Morale & the Big Steppers 02 December 22 15:34


Not as bad as it once was. They gave most people a chunky pay lift a while back. Some still weren’t happy, but there are lots of delusional, narcissistic, lawyers everywhere.

The firm doesn’t pay a premium unless you come from a “big” firm, promise to bring no following, have no clients and do very little actual work. If you tick those boxes and fluff the right egos then you’re in luck. 💷💷.

It’s also still a complete hole (for the avoidance of doubt).

Biden 02 December 22 17:59

Hasn’t WBD massively hiked its Director and Junior Partner pay to well above what competitors offer? 

Anonymous 03 December 22 01:37

The restaurant at W&C is top tier. Has to be the best in the city. Anyone that complains is living in dreamworld. You won’t get better than this. 

Anonymous 05 December 22 19:45

I was rattling around an almost empty 1 London Bridge on Friday (Howard Kennedy, for those not in the know). I can't work out if most people just work from home on Fridays or if they've all left the firm. I have this fear one day I'll walk in and it'll just be removal men shifting boxes of Craig's football memorabilia out of the door.

Anonymous 05 December 22 20:15

My firm has had about 10 complaints about the same partner in a couple of years. No action. They bill too much. 

HMS Jumped Ship 05 December 22 23:07

To the WBD trainee complaining about pay, having worked at the firm, I can honestly say you really aren't entitled to a salary increase.  There isn't the work, the hours or the ability to justify more cash to anyone there let alone the trainees. 

No, WBD isn't as bad as you think. It's worse. 

Anonymous 06 December 22 22:49

A: None of them

People still need legal services during recessions.

Insolvencies, redundancies, mergers, acquisitions, restructuring, conflict resolution - there will be plenty of work.


Anonymous 07 December 22 14:13

It's banks that need to watch out, and legal services associated with City finance.

As more trading is forced into EU countries and the Eurozone the UK work will disappear.

Tide Watcher 07 December 22 14:22

Law firms that have collapsed include Halliwells, Parabis, Cobbetts, Dewey & LeBoeuf, Bingham McCutchen, Heller Ehrman, Howrey Thelen and Jeffrey Green Russell. 

Normally the warning signs are big offices and offering over the odds to recruit staff. 

Addleshaws might fall into that category. 

psyscho lovells partners 08 December 22 16:20

what about the guy who used to blow his train whistle? he was utterly bonkers. lot of weridos knocking about that firm 

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