Welcome to workplace heaven
One of the big attractions of corporate law is the spectacular offices that lawyers get to work in. Some are in iconic London buildings, others boast features so exotic that it’s easy to forget they house law firms. But which excite the young solicitors who work in them the most?
As part of our survey of over 1,500 trainees and junior lawyers at nearly 60 top corporate law firms, we asked respondents to rate their places of work on a sliding scale of one to ten — with one defined as “I’d be more comfortable hot-desking in a squat under the Westway”, and ten as “It’s classier than a chaise longue designed by Corbusier”.
Three firms scored a C, 25 got a B, 19 an A, and nine an A* (the grades are detailed on each firm’s Legal Cheek Survey scorecard, accessible through the Firms’ Most List). Below, in no particular order, we profile the firms that were awarded an A*.
Kirkland & Ellis
Can there be any cooler place to go to work than 30 St Mary Axe, aka Sir Norman Foster’s spectacular Gherkin building? Trainees and junior lawyers at Kirkland & Ellis don’t think so. Insiders highlight the spectacular office as one of the big draws of working at the firm, alongside the A*-rated quality of work and the £140,000 newly qualified pay.
With even junior Kirkland lawyers getting their own rooms, which come complete with Gherkin windowry, this is a lovely place to wile away those days (and nights) at the coalface of private equity law.
Kirkland & Ellis profile [Legal Cheek Most List]
Located high up in the shiny new Broadgate Tower near Liverpool Street, Reed Smith has one of the best views in town. “On good days,” a trainee tells us, the office “reminds me of being a king/queen of London surveying the metropolis from his/her palace, or hanging out on a cloud with friends, a squirrel in the tree tops.”
The interior is very fancily appointed, with tasteful decor combining with spectacular floor to ceiling windows to create the delightful effect outlined above. If you are lucky, you might even spot a Reed Smith rookie on the other side of the glass descending the building — which appeared in James Bond flick Skyfall — as part of one of the firm’s charity abseils.
Reed Smith profile [Legal Cheek Most List]
CMS Cameron McKenna
CMS Cameron McKenna’s swish London digs at Cannon Place at the south end of the City of London is just a year old, with the gleaming newness “way better” than the firm’s old gaff near the Barbican.
One trainee tells us that the building is “a modern architect’s wet dream”, while there’s also praise for the open plan interior of the glass and steel palace. Just be mindful, potential new CMS recruits, that the firm has a host of other less glamorous UK offices where trainees are also stationed.
CMS Cameron McKenna profile [Legal Cheek Most List]
Norton Rose Fulbright
Vistas don’t come much more captivating than the one that presents itself to visitors to Norton Rose Fulbright’s spectacular ninth floor garden, accessible through an ear-popping glass lift that whisks you upwards from reception.
On the ascent you can get an eyeful of Norton Rose Fulbright lawyers busily at work in their spacious glass cabins. Trainees at the firm tell us that “it’s a fantastic place to work: light, open, and with unparalleled views”, with others praising the “amazing spot on the river” alongside London City Hall.
Norton Rose Fulbright profile [Legal Cheek Most List]
Mishcon de Reya
Entry to Mishcon de Reya’s new office — which apparently hasn’t come cheap — is via a kind of avant garde cocktail bar, where clients can grab themselves sushi and martinis while they wait. Coffee is served, slightly bafflingly, via an iPad.
Even the bits where the work gets done is feted by trainees as “completely incredible”. And, what’s more, with Mishcon’s Africa House home located in Holborn, just a stone’s throw from the West End, the local bars and restaurants are much better than your standard bland City joints.
Mishcon de Reya profile [Legal Cheek Most List]
Hop off the train at Bristol Temple Meads station, and two minutes away across a footbridge over the River Avon is Burges Salmon’s delightful headquarters.
The natural light-bathed interior is set around an internal central square, where the firm’s distinctly relaxed-looking employees (for corporate lawyers anyway) chat casually over coffee from the top-rated Glassworks canteen.
This airy and futuristic vibe does not extend to full open plan offices — which many view as a plus. “We share offices with one other person (trainees sit with their supervisor) which is much nicer than open plan in my opinion,” one insider reports. What’s more, new starters get a “desk assessment to ensure your workstation is set up for you properly”.
Burges Salmon profile [Legal Cheek Most List]
Nestled round the corner from St Paul’s Cathedral is K&L Gates’ gem of a London office. Superlatives are abound in lawyers’ descriptions of this relatively little-known delight.
“By far the nicest law firm office in the whole of London,” is how one K&Ler describes 1 New Change. “Beautiful”, adds another. Particular acclaim is reserved for the roof top bar and private terrace, with views over St Paul’s, which are apparently “fantastic for summer lunches”.
K&L Gates profile [Legal Cheek Most List]
A move out of the West End to a swanky new home on the edge of the City has thrilled insiders. Overlooking the Thames is preferable to the old view over Great Portland Street, while the interior of 1 London Bridge is by all accounts rather impressive.
The only complaint is that the desks are a bit on the small side: “I would like a bigger desk for all of my files and paperwork,” reports one hard-working trainee.
Howard Kennedy profile [Legal Cheek Most List]
One of just a handful of law firms to be based in Canary Wharf, Clifford Chance’s London office has very much embraced the first class airport lounge vibe popular among magic circe law firms. Trainees love it. “The office is second to none,” one tells us.
What 10 Upper Bank Street lacks in planes it makes up for in… swimming pools. Well, one swimming pool — a unique workplace feature among corporate law firms. Yes, CC has its own bathing facilities where trainees can famously wash away their troubles while gazing into the London night. And then it’s back to work.
Clifford Chance profile [Legal Cheek Most List]
You can access all of our law firm profiles through the Legal Cheek Most List.
If you would like to purchase a report containing a full breakdown of Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey results for your firm, benchmarked against the other participating firms and a custom selected group of peer firms, please contact Legal Cheek Research for more details.