The US firms continue their reign of domination in this year's Firm of the Year Survey, with Kirkland & Ellis managing the top score of 93% for satisfaction with staff development (including training and career progression).

Kirkland was praised for providing "really high quality of work" and for not "micromanaging". According to one trainee the firm is "happy to let you get on with it". And for those who don't make partner, the "salary partner title instead of senior associate makes knowing you'll never make partner more palatable". Firm of the Year winner Ince (92%) was just behind Kirkland, with respondents saying the firm "looks after its people", allows trainees to "retain files as they move seats for continuity of learning" and boasts partners who "genuinely care about their associates".

At Jones Day (89%) it's apparently "incredibly easy to make partner...almost embarrassingly so" and respondents praised the  "very decent number of partners made up from within each year". Plus there's "responsibility by the bucket-load" for junior lawyers. Whilst at Shearmans (89%) the "all equity partnership makes being made up all the harder", the majority of respondents referred to "great career prospects" and "lots of decent training". And at Mayer Brown (81%), "If you are capable regardless of the level they let you run with things".

Those firms scoring highly seem to combine a high level of trust in their staff and lawyers, allowing them freedom to get on with cases, with a good support structure and training to back them up.

Further down the table, Olswang (59%) is slammed for an "abysmal" NQ retention rate and is accused of viewing its trainees as "disposable resources (like, for example, toilet paper)". One particularly jaded lawyer said, "The competitiveness fostered between the associates is akin to gladiators being sent to kill each other in front of the fat evil Romans (partners)".

Over at Field Fisher Waterhouse (44%) respondents claim "senior associates hog work that is not appropriate for their level" and trainee numbers have been slashed, with the firm "plugging the gaps with very poorly paid paralegals". And career prospects seem perilous at Clarke Wilmott (40%), where one lawyer says it's a case of "which department will be playing Redundancy Roulette next".

Right at the bottom of the heap again is Irwin Mitchell (32%), where "we are told to work harder without any prospects of salary rises or career development" and equity partners are accused of hoarding work "to boost their personal figures, even doing diligence work that should be done by trainees".
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Anonymous 01 February 13 07:37

Proof positive that the marketing team at Dickie Dees deluged this year's survey with votes.

Dickie Dees have made up 4 partners in nearly 6 years. Much of the low morale stems from a culture of sluggish progression. Except in the marketing team.