The Legal Cheek View
Most of the City of London’s mega law firms have offices spanning the globe, but Macfarlanes gets by with just one. And without all those costly overheads, it reaps a profit that is significantly higher than most. Profit per equity (PEP) stands at well over a million, with this year’s figure (£1.29 million) actually down 17% on 2015 when the firm’s PEP topped the one and a half million mark. Meanwhile, newly qualified pay stands at a respectable £71,000.
Magic circle-levels of profitability are matched by the training, for which Macfarlanes scores are among the highest recorded in the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey. First-rate instruction is combined with plentiful seminars from internal and external speakers to deliver a grounding in corporate law matched by few firms. But expect to work hard: “Work/life balance isn’t too bad, but I can't usually make evening plans during the week though as they are almost always disrupted,” one of the firm’s trainees tells us.
What you won’t get if you do a training contract at Macfarlanes is an international secondment (that single office approach has its downsides). However, there are occasional opportunities to travel on particularly pieces of business. Just under 10% of trainees have done so.
The perks are solid – even if the firm’s lawyers grumble at the slightly "miserly" £30 per month offered towards sport and fitness activities ("It covers less than half of my gym membership," complains one). But you don’t get to be one of the wealthiest firms in London by giving too many freebies away.
The good news for those hoping for a bit more glitz is that Macfarlanes is moving to swanky new premises in the spring. Early reports suggest that the new gaff could be quite impressive, but currently no one is getting too carried away. Of the move an insider quips: "Hopefully the mice won't move with us". What the firm will be hoping to successfully transfer is a friendly culture and lively social scene. Friday drinks at the local pubs are a weekly feature of trainee life, while all the departments have hotly-anticipated summer and Christmas parties.