The results of our search for canteen heaven
When hunting for a training contract at a law firm, you might not think its canteen is a deal-breaker. But who can survive the cut and thrust of corporate life on an empty stomach?
We asked over 2,000 trainees and junior lawyers at the leading UK corporate law firms for their thoughts on their employers’ culinary fuel. Today we bring you the results and can exclusively reveal the top ten law firms that have got your stomach growls covered, offering their lawyers some of the best food in the City.
In alphabetical order, the firms which scooped A* grades are…
Allen & Overy
Three words describe this magic circle’s top-notch nosh, according to one insider: “live cook, yo”. Trainees rave about the “incredible live cooks who prepare fresh breakfast, lunch and dinner”.
And you can forget your uni canteens — in 2016 the dining area at A&O received a “massive refurbishment” and is now a fancy restaurant called Lavanda Trattoria offering fine Italian delicacies. Plus pancakes, chocolate croissants and cinnamon swirls are all on the morning menu.
Trainees appreciate the free dinner in the evenings (which is just as well since you won’t be going home early: our survey records A&O’s average leave time as 8:43pm). There is also “a bar and three different cafes run by the firm, where staff keep impressing us with new coffee creations”.
Value for money is “alright”, but on an A&O salary who’s complaining? A few minor gripers, in fact: “The individual fruit is a little expensive” while the “premium salads in the salad bar can be overpriced”.
Otherwise, scoring a shiny A*, most respondents rated A&O an eight or above for its food, glorious food.
Read Allen & Overy’s full firm profile, including The Legal Cheek View and Insider Scorecard.
Shiny new canteens at some of Addleshaw Goddard’s offices have impressed their troops. They boast “brilliant canteen staff” and cheery chefs who “never fail to bring a smile to my face at lunchtime”, a trainee tells us.
There are no evening meal provisions for when you’re closing a deal after hours, but otherwise “the food is amazing” enthuses one trainee. While you may be doing a few Pret and Wasabi roundtrips for dinner, Addleshaw offers “a good selection of food during lunch”. Insiders praise the “great coffee too”!
Trainees gush about Shwarma Thursday in particular, described by one as “the best day of the week” because it “brings all trainees together”. Another says the newly-implemented payment system is handy, meaning rookies can “top up online and never worry about forgetting to bring cash to work”.
Though one trainee at the firm thinks that the menu “could be healthier”, overall the canteen received a definite thumbs-up from Addleshaw’s ranks. Oh and “the cookies are irresistible”.
Read Addleshaw Goddard’s full firm profile, including The Legal Cheek View and Insider Scorecard.
Bird & Bird
Lawyers are also well fed at Bird & Bird. The cafeteria “is (usually) very, very good”.
The firm’s move into a gleaming new London office on New Fetter Lane might have something to do with it: you’ll be feasting your eyes on its “wonderful view” of the City as well as its “excellent munch”. Sounds like a winner.
Trainees indulge in “excellent cooked and non-cooked breakfasts”, as well as “a good range of salads and vegetarian food”. The 11th floor, where trainees can grab a free barista-made coffee, is where it’s at.
Read Bird & Bird’s full firm profile, including The Legal Cheek View and Insider Scorecard.
Over in Bristol, Burges Salmon’s on-site canteen, Glassworks, has also received rave reviews from our survey respondents. Apparently, its culinary delights are better than those at many top restaurants.
We hear the canteen makes good use of condiments, with one trainee commenting “mayonnaise on everything” — is that a good or a bad thing? If you’re not a fan of mayo, there’s still a wide variety of food that is “very good and very cheap!”
Hot and cold dishes are served throughout the day, and a weekly ‘cake trolley’ keeps the trainees sweet and happy. Compliments to the chef!
Read Burges Salmon’s full firm profile, including The Legal Cheek View and Insider Scorecard.
According to the rookies at Gowling, “you can’t get much better” than its canteen. It’s not hard to agree — the food is reportedly “unbeatable”, with more than just your bog-standard sandwiches.
Trainees are spoilt for choice, and “you could happily eat a main meal here every day and have toast for dinner if you were so inclined”, an insider tells us. At “about £1 more expensive than a meal deal”, menu options are cheap and cheerful.
Go-to favourites include the “legendary Mars bar cakes” and the “tuna steaks, freshly made salsas and BBQs outside on the patio”. Gowling doesn’t do average.
One trainee points out, however, that “after a while, you realise all of the meals/dishes taste pretty much the same, and have too much oil”. But ultimately, most of the respondents scored the Gowling canteen very highly.
Read Gowling WLG’s full firm profile, including The Legal Cheek View and Insider Scorecard.
“Very good food”, “excellent variety and quality” and “very reasonably priced” are just some of the praiseworthy comments directed at K&L Gates’ canteen.
The food is also subsidised, which our respondents appreciate. More picky trainees think that the eatery “could benefit from more choice, such as a salad bar”.
But what’s a missing salad dish when K&Lers get to hang out on the rooftop bar and the private terrace, both of which are “fantastic for summer lunches”?
Overall, the US firm scored very well in the canteen and food department. Plus insiders tell us that “the bacon sandwiches on a Friday are a winner”.
Read K&L Gates’ full firm profile, including The Legal Cheek View and Insider Scorecard.
Kirkland & Ellis
In an office located in one of the most glamorous buildings in the City, the Gherkin, you’d expect the food to be made of dreams too. Kirkland & Ellis doesn’t disappoint.
We hear that the “Thursday buffet night is a highlight” at the top-ten global outfit. The beloved canteen is also supplemented by the firm’s policy of covering £25 on Deliveroo orders for those who are working late, which “goes a long way too”, a trainee tells us (and also probably gets used a lot — Kirkland has some of the longest working hours in the country, with trainees and junior lawyers averaging nearly 12-and-a-half hours in the office each day).
Being in the Gherkin has another big culinary draw: trainees appreciate the access they have to Searcys, the restaurant and bar with 360 views at the top of the tower.
Read Kirkland & Ellis’ full firm profile, including The Legal Cheek View and Insider Scorecard.
Alongside the A* rated training, great perks and slick tech, the food at Linklaters is an undoubted highlight. Indeed, the firm is the reigning holder of the ‘Best Law Firm Canteen’ having scooped top spot at the last Legal Cheek Awards. But will it hang onto its gong in 2017-18?
From great coffee, cakes, and smoothies, to biscuits and drinks trolleys, the “amazing catering” at Links provides its trainees with “everything you need to stay sane in the City”. You get the extra perk of a free dinner and cab if you’re working late, too.
The on-site dining area is a subsidised restaurant called Silks, which our survey respondents think is “very impressive”. One describes Silks as simply “bliss”. Another says there’s a “good range from guilty pleasures to vegan fit-fam food”. Standouts include “stone-baked pizzas, curries and fish and chips”.
It is, however, rather on the pricey side. The canteen has “recently raised the prices on all their food and drink… it is now cheaper to go buy food from Pret”, moans one rookie.
But that doesn’t stop Links’ lawyers from helping themselves to the “delicious” offerings on the menu. All in all, it’s “very, very good — there’s a reason they have their own Instagram account!”
Read Linklaters’ full firm profile, including The Legal Cheek View and Insider Scorecard.
High up in the skyscraping Broadgate Tower, trainees sing their praises for the Reed Smith canteen. Scoring a perfect A*, most respondents rated Reed Smith an eight or above for its food.
For one rookie the culinary delights are “a little expensive”, but admits they’re of “great quality”. Certainly the lawyers at this City firm aren’t going hungry.
As things stand, veggie trainees might need to keep a packed lunch for after-hours emergencies: “The night time food had limited choice for vegetarians”. But during daylight hours, there’s “lots of options”, respondents tell us.
Read Reed Smith’s full firm profile, including The Legal Cheek View and Insider Scorecard.
Last but definitely not least, international law firm Taylor Wessing also marked highly in the all-important canteen category.
With free dinner after 8pm, corporate life isn’t so bad at a firm that advises high profile clients such as Google and Spotify. Most of the trainees and lawyers surveyed scored the dining experience a nine out of ten or more.
The terrace makes it, especially during the summer. For the rest of the year, the tech-savvy firm has “good food” that’s “available all day”, our trainee spies tell us.
Read Taylor Wessing’s full firm profile, including The Legal Cheek View and Insider Scorecard.
Looking beyond the ten firms which scored A*s, 12 firms scored As for their canteens, 17 firms received a B grade, 12 received a C and three got a D. Seven firms didn’t have a canteen. For the results of the other nine categories of the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2017-18 check out firms’ full survey scorecards — accessible via the Legal Cheek Firms Most List 2017-18.