Encouraging solicitors to get a life outside the office has traditionally been a low priority for law firms. But while the Firm of the Year survey, which measures lawyers' satisfaction with their work/life balance, suggests going home is still a mystery to many, some firms appear to have placed it high on their agenda.

It should come as no surprise that Marque Lawyers - Australian Firm of the Year for the second year running - came in top with a work/life balance satisfaction score of 89%. Respondents agreed that Marque's increasingly famous culture means staff "don't often dread coming into work". The boring business of practising law appears to be squeezed in between the "world's best pub crawl" and "awesome Jäger Train" madness, with Friday's rigorously enforced "4pm pens down" rule further ensuring that no-one mistakes the firm for Golden Turd winner HWL Ebsworth. Mills Oakley missed out on glory by 1%, with respondents praising the firm for supporting numerous social events: "almost everyone goes and pushes it hard". Well done.



A gloomier picture emerges beneath the top spots. Even fourth placed Lavan Legal was branded a "joyless workhouse" by one bleary-eyed lawyer. A swathe of firms inhabit the unimpressive 50-70% range, although hopefully the poor bugger at Clayton Utz who spends more Saturday nights "at my desk" than anywhere else isn't the norm.

HWL Ebsworth came last, predictably, tying with Piper Alderman on 50%. But there is hope. Lawyers trying to recall their families' faces should take comfort from DLA Piper's fifth place finish, which is a dramatic improvement on its dismal bottom spot in 2012.

For a full table of all the winners and losers, click here.
 
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