In the current climate of economic gloom, mergers and rampant redundancies, keeping staff in the loop is particularly important. Sadly the Firm of the Year poll measuring lawyers' satisfaction with openness reveals a chasm between firms whose employees feel part of the team, and those whose workers feel left out in the cold.

Survey respondents from Marque Lawyers and Mills Oakley are very happy with bosses' willingness to talk, and handed their firms the top two spots for the second year running. Marque earned a particularly juicy 92%. Respondents praised the "utopic" and "egalitarian" leadership style. And transparency - or at least the dissemination of gossip - seems assured thanks to the firm-wide "random"  reallocation of cubicles every six months. Lavan Legal also performed well. The firm earned a creditable third place, with lawyers citing a knack for openness which extends to getting "all of its achievements (big and definitely not so big) covered by the local media".

There are murmurs of hidden agendas at King Wood & Mallesons, where one lawyer complains of a "very bitchy and political" culture. However the firm still managed to place a steady, if unspectacular, score of 69%. Further down the table one grad is finding management at Allens a bit sinister. The nervous insider is still "wondering what happened"  to several peers who were "disappeared without explanation".

After that things quickly get a lot worse. Baker & MacKenzie, circling the drain with 49%, is slammed by insiders for a "hush-hush" approach which has bred "uncertainty" throughout the firm. Clayton Utz took third from bottom with 42%, while Holman Webb came second last with a weedy 38%.

But bottom marks went to HWL Ebsworth, where firm policy is a black box that even its glowing Golden Turd may struggle to illuminate. The firm scored a lowly 25%, over three and a half times less than Marque. According to one lawyer, the only thing staff know about the firm's strategy is that the partnership "does not think that doing things better is the way to grow". No wonder they keep things secret.
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