The law firms with the best social life

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By Thomas Connelly on

It’s not all work and no play


Eight law firms have been handed the top A* grade for social life in Legal Cheek’s exclusive survey of over 1,500 trainees and junior solicitors.

Now we know what you’re thinking. Solicitors and social life are not usually two things you hear in the same sentence — especially those earning their crust at the corporate coalface. But having questioned rookies from across nearly 60 top UK law firms, Legal Cheek has obtained a unique insight into how trainees and associates like to unwind after a hard day’s work.

As part of the in-depth survey, respondents were asked to rank their firm’s social life on a one to ten sliding scale, with one being “I once nodded to a colleague in the queue in Pret” right through to the top score of ten, defined as “We are out together every night, including Sundays.”

So let’s crack on and reveal why we awarded eight firms with an A* for social life. In no particular order, the firms are…

Baker & McKenzie

The international behemoth — which also scored top marks for its friendly trainees — appears to be a hive of social activity. After a long working week, the firm’s drinks trolley fires the starting pistol on the weekend for Bakers’ lawyers.

Despite the firm’s London office being just a stone’s throw from Fleet Street, insiders suggest that the hipster-filled bars of East London are the destination of choice for many a trainee. One even joked that the firm “must be close to arranging a permanent trainee secondment to Book Club in Shoreditch.”

Lawyers with a few more years post-qualification experience under their belts tend to hang around the Blackfriar Pub, with one commenting that the pub becomes “B&M HQ after 5:30pm on a Friday”. So students on the hunt for a training contract, you know where to go.

Read Baker & McKenzie’s full Legal Cheek survey scorecard here.

Bird & Bird

The lawyers over at City outfit Bird & Bird appear to be sports mad. You name it, they play it, with one lawyer revealing that there’s rugby, football (both men and women’s teams), cricket and softball evenings throughout the week.

If that wasn’t enough, the firm holds an annual football tournament which gets lawyers from all its offices around the world together for a weekend. Happily, for those who struggle with the beautiful game, “the football is optional and instead you get to mingle with international colleagues over a weekend of partying.”

One respondent described the firm as “very sociable with colleagues having lunch together most days and drinks on a Thursday and Friday night.”

Read Bird & Bird’s full Legal Cheek survey scorecard here.

Jones Day

The London office of US heavyweight Jones Day was a strong performer in the social life category. Located just around the corner from Inner Temple, lawyers — who pocket a generous £85,000 upon qualification — regularly have evening drinks together.

Legal Cheek understands the scene at the Tudor Street-based outfit is very lively, with partners, trainees and everyone else in between part of the fun. Away from the office, hierarchies are said to very much breakdown as close ties are forged amid the less formal setting. One firm insider confirmed that work socials are “always well-attended”.

Read Jones Day’s full Legal Cheek survey scorecard here.

Travers Smith

Travers lawyers had nothing but good things to say about their firm’s social life. One source said there are plenty of “ad hoc trips to the pub” while another revealed there is a “good mix of organised events” which include a plethora of sporting activities.

For those lawyers looking for something a little more highbrow, there are also regular trips to The Globe theatre and even a “fantastic choir”. One insider revealed plans to host a firm “camping trip”, plus there are rumours of a “Total Wipe Out” style competition in the pipeline. Now who wouldn’t want to see Sean from M&A tackle the big red balls…

Read Travers Smith’s full Legal Cheek survey scorecard here.

Shearman and Sterling

It certainly isn’t all work and no play for the lawyers based at the London office of this elite US giant. One source claimed that socialising over a couple of cocktails with colleagues was the norm, while another branded the firm’s social life “very good”.

With the firm’s plush office just a stone’s throw from Liverpool Street and Shoreditch, a plethora of swanky restaurants, cool rooftop bars and trendy pop-up eateries are all within easy walking distance.

One favourite haunt appears to be the Queen of Hoxton nightclub. Rumour has it if you nip down on a Friday evening, you’re likely to bump into a well dressed Shearman lawyer enjoying a spot of drum and bass in the club’s famous basement.

Read Shearman and Sterling’s full Legal Cheek survey scorecard here.

Taylor Wessing

The tech-focused international law firm scored top marks for its social life. Feedback from lawyers was very positive, with many describing Taylor Wessing’s drinks trolley as the perfect way to start the weekend.

As afternoon turns to evening many trainees and associates will continue to socialise together at one of the many trendy wine bars found in close proximity to the firm’s office.

A popular get-together spot is apparently the White Swan on Fetter Lane — right next door to DAC Beachcroft. Reports of inter-firm pub drinking games are yet to be confirmed.

Read Taylor Wessing’s full Legal Cheek survey scorecard here.

Burges Salmon

The Bristol-headquartered outfit has scored well across the board, and social life is no different. Bagging itself a Legal Cheek A*, many sources from within the firm trumpeted Burges Salmon’s excellent atmosphere, with one branding the office a “very sociable place” to work.

One lawyer revealed that “everyone is very friendly and willing to go out for a drink”, while another said “trainees often spend time in evenings and weekends together”. One associate evens recalls a time when a large number of the firm’s lawyers downed tools and descended on a local boozer to watch the Wimbledon men’s tennis final.

The firm also plays host to a number of charity events which lawyers are encouraged to get involved with.

Read Burges Salmon’s full Legal Cheek survey scorecard here.

Squire Patton Boggs

Last, but by no means least, Squire Patton Boggs. With offices in London, Leeds, Birmingham and Manchester, the solid corporate all-rounder received the top grade in Legal Cheek’s annual survey for social life.

“Generally there is lots going on” said one insider, but this “slightly depends on the department you’re based in.” Another source revealed “there is a large amount of social interaction between trainees at weekends”.

With “monthly pay day drinks” and “trainee lunches” there’s always an excuse to get together with colleagues to discuss the latest in law firm gossip commercial awareness.

Read Squire Patton Boggs’s full Legal Cheek survey scorecard here.

You can access all of our law firm profiles through the Legal Cheek Most List.