Analysis

Revealed: The law firms with the best perks 2017-2018

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From massages to music rooms: the myriad reasons to become a City lawyer

What would a corporate legal career be without its lavish perks? They certainly ease the pain of sometimes gruelling City law hours.

We asked over 2,000 trainees and junior lawyers at the 60 leading UK-based corporate law firms for their thoughts on their employers’ top treats and freebies. For all wannabe solicitors, we bring you things to dream about.

In alphabetical order, the firms that scooped A* grades for perks in the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2017-18 are…

Allen & Overy

Allen & Overy rookies are certainly basking in perk sunshine at a firm that also has one of the most generous pensions schemes in the City. “We’re spoilt, but too often forget it,” an insider tells us.

Complete with all the magic circle essentials, the office is “fantastic”. A&O lawyers enjoy a 24 hour gym, fitness classes, a dance hall and even music rooms. There’s a bike loan up for grabs, and at the firm bar you’ll find “great subsidised drinks”. Sold already?

“How ‘bout that roof terrace?”, says a trainee. In fact, A&O has two garden-esque terraces where its lawyers are treated to BBQs in the summer months.

And you won’t be calling off sick in the winter, thanks to the firm’s legendary flu jabs, in-house doctor and physiotherapist. An onsite dentist and beautician ensure rookies look and feel on top of their game.

Read Allen & Overy’s full firm profile, including The Legal Cheek View and Insider Scorecard.

Clifford Chance

Clifford Chancers say they “couldn’t imagine better” perks.

Picture “dry cleaners, taxis, 24-hour print room, sleeping pods, food on demand overnight and on weekends… the list goes on,” a trainee says. In fact, after 9pm food is delivered to your desk “hotel room service style” if you so wish. The freshly baked cookies are “out of this world”.

The facilities in particular are “incredible”: “SO MANY THINGS!!!” gushes one trainee. Expect an in-house gym, pilates classes, “and a place to do your nails and go for a massage in the office!” There’s also a team of hairdressers in the building to help trainees maintain the magic circle look.

As if that wasn’t enough, Clifford Chance lawyers are also treated to discounts for a range of activities and attractions such as art exhibitions, 02 and theatre tickets: “Guess the in-house squash court, steak dinner and box seats at the Emirates aren’t too bad,” shrugs one rookie. Another says “we recently discovered we have a specific person we can call to hang up our art of our choice on the walls of our offices. Sweet”.

But nothing beats the firm’s signature perk overlooking Canary Wharf — the swimming pool.

Read Clifford Chance’s full firm profile, including The Legal Cheek View and Insider Scorecard.

Freshfields

Is it really a magic circle firm if it doesn’t have a pro sushi chef? Freshfields rookies get their sashimi fix on a Tuesday and Thursday when the beloved cook graces the canteen.

With fitness classes to go with it, the free on-site gym has got the health nuts covered. The elite law firm also has a “very well funded sports team” and sets “quite generous” budgets for its socials and summer parties. Not bad considering it hasn’t done quite as well as other magic circlers in the revenue growth league this year.

Still, trainees cheer on “the very high salary” as well as the ample secondment opportunities that treat them to free accommodation. Healthcare and benefits packages top up the list of “brilliant perks”, and the on-site masseuse is the icing on the already very rich cake.

Read Freshfields’ full firm profile, including The Legal Cheek View and Insider Scorecard.

Jones Day

Jones Day also has a neat list of perks to write home about: “Best one for me is the gym”, an insider tells us. Although it could be bigger, “the fact it exists at all is a massive boon”.

The luxurious offices as a whole are appreciated. They are “well designed” with plenty of natural light keeping its rookies awake. The canteen has its loyal fans, with “breakfast and lunches always of a high standard and the cafe staff are always friendly”. Our perk-o-meter shows thumbs up all round.

Read Jones Day’s full firm profile, including The Legal Cheek View and Insider Scorecard.

Kirkland & Ellis

The rich kids of Kirkland & Ellis have got it all. Well, except maybe a PA.

Trainees tell us they “can’t complain” about the perks department, which one has described as being “baller”. Not that they need any freebies with the salary that they’re on.

Still, life behind the Gherkin’s diamond-shaped panes is as glamorous as it gets. That’s just as well — trainees need some sort of respite from the intense deal-driven schedule.

The jewel in the crown is Searcy’s bar atop the glass tower, where rookies feast their eyes on the City and forget about work for a while.

Read Kirkland & Ellis’ full firm profile, including The Legal Cheek View and Insider Scorecard.

Linklaters

Ranging from prized international secondments to free massages and top biscuits, Links lawyers enjoy some of the best perks in town.

In the battle of the corporate gyms, Linklaters have gone all out with a full fitness centre complete with fancy shampoo.

Drinks trolleys, Deliveroo allowance, cabs and “great coffee” are each a godsend when you’re working late in the City. Links likes to ensure that its rookies have “nothing to really complain about”.

As with any magic circe firm, the work can be full-on. But trainees do rejoice that 28 days of holiday is “brilliant”, medical and travel insurance, private healthcare as well as a dentist and physio, complete a “decent package” at Linklaters. Some would say its prestige is a perk alone.

Read Linklaters’ full firm profile, including The Legal Cheek View and Insider Scorecard.

Ropes & Gray

Ropes & Gray is not without its own attractions.

“Excellent pay” is a notable perk at this US outfit. Its unusually high 30 days of holiday allowance also gets rave reviews from its junior lawyers. They “can’t knock the free medical and dental cover” either. The gym allowance is an expected but welcome perk while the £25 allowance for Deliveroo orders makes up for the lack of canteen.

The international secondment opportunities are the cherries on the icing on the cake. About a quarter of trainees get to do one, with Hong Kong being a rookie favourite. But perks are flowing at home too, with a “nice reception team (!!)” brightening each morning.

Read Ropes & Gray’s full firm profile, including The Legal Cheek View and Insider Scorecard.

Shearman & Sterling

Shearman & Sterling’s lawyers are also pretty perked up.

The pay is of course, “very good” says one trainee. What the firm lacks in a canteen it generously makes up for with a £30 food allowance for those busy bees working after 8pm and at the weekends.

To burn off all those late night feasts, rookies can make use of the US firm’s liberal subsidy for Virgin Active membership, which chips away about two-thirds of the cost. Can’t say they’re stingy.

Bored of the office? Shearman is located on the City/Shoreditch borders. The smell of artisan coffee lures many a trainee to this part of town.

Read Shearman & Sterling’s full firm profile, including The Legal Cheek View and Insider Scorecard.

Trowers & Hamlins

In a category heavily dominated by the US and magic circle giants, Trowers & Hamlins has scored pretty well. Despite fewer resources than the elites, its “really good perks” have gone a long way.

Early risers savour free breakfast if they get to the office before 8.30am. If they’re still feeling peckish, they can pinch the Haribos and fizzy drinks from the client meeting rooms. Standard.

There’s more: “tea bags and free-flowing milk in every kitchen”. What else could you possibly need? Discounts on hotels, gym membership and Eurostar travel also join the impressive list of perks at Trowers.

Read Trowers & Hamlins’ full firm profile, including The Legal Cheek View and Insider Scorecard.

White & Case

Known for its on-site massages, pull up to the White & Case perk station, which is up there with the magic circle firms.

Healthcare hasn’t gone amiss at the international giant; treats include subsidised yoga, weekly therapist sessions and a health allowance and rewards programme called ‘Wellness Works for Me’, which rookies rave about.

Free meals and taxis for late-nighters keep spirits high. The regular “street food pop-ups” and more exotic menus at the firm “all help ease the pain when the going gets tough.”

Read White & Case full firm profile, including The Legal Cheek View and Insider Scorecard.

For all the key info about the leading firms, including their Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey Scorecards, check out the Firms Most List.

42 Comments

Anonymous

And all you have to do to get these delights is to give up your life and sell your soul.

These perks are just silver handles on a coffin.

Anonymous

Law students, particularly at the trainee/LPC stage have no illusions about the realities of the job. Most plan on the slog and, in my experience, have some sort of exit plan (in-house or advisory law or consulting or something else)

BoredLegalReccy

This is a wildly untrue assumption

Trumpenkrieg

“24-hour print room” and “sleeping pods” are not perks, they are the accoutrements of a white collar serf.

Anonymous

Drinks trolleys, Deliveroo, dry cleaning, taxis and 24hr printing are hardly noteworthy as they are so standard… Also not sure I’d count sleeping pods as a ‘perk’

Anonymous

We don’t have a Deliveroo allowance 🙁

Anonymous

“the firm’s legendary flu jabs” – fascinated to find out what gives them this legendary status….

Anonymous

Nothing – this article is just typical LC horsecock.

Anonymous

Yes, the quality of Legal Cheek writing is very, very poor. Unless you think a typical LC sentence like this is good journalism: “Wannabe Beyonce-esque lawyer bags a top training contract from legendary city outfit, that has partners who act like they’re in an episode of Suits. Have we mentioned Lady Hale or Lord Harley in this story?”

Anonymous

At my small high street Legal Aid firm this year’s perks included an all-expenses paid trip abroad for staff and lawyers, and a four-figure Christmas bonus.

Combine this with enjoyable work and great work-life balance… The city isn’t everything y’know 🙂

Anonymous

I suppose you rode to this foreign trip on a unicorn that vomits rainbows? Get real!

Anonymous

Ryanair actually, but we still have a great time.

We get pensions too.

Beginning to think that Legal Aid lawyers on peanuts may just have greedy employers!

Anonymous

£99.99…Top Bonus.

Rupert; a US Firm associate

Four figure Xmas bonus?

Small change, dear boy.

Patrick

I can’t believe that Price prefers McDermott’s business card to mine.

LL and P

If I got a 4 figure Christmas bonus, I would be too ashamed to mention it. Quite awful.

Irwin Mitchell Partner

I’m pleased to announce our firm’s four figure bonus. All four figures are zeros, but it still counts.

Anonymous

All of the main London law firms offer flu jabs, drinks trolleys and canteen food options. Deliveroo is often charged to a client if working late as are late night taxis so these are hardly perks. Dry cleaning and parcel collection etc is also fairly standard. A pretty poor article to be honest.

Anonymous

“tea bags and free-flowing milk in every kitchen” counts as the best perks? How much do you have to pay to be on this list?

DWF Associate

The vending machine once dropped 2 chocolate bars when I only paid for one.

Anonymous

Top bantz, 9/11.

Anonymous

LLL

Anonymous

If they find out who you are, you’ll be sacked for dishonesty.

Anonymous

They allege fundamental dishonesty in every breath so no change there.

A miserable cunt

I am really worried about Frustrated Writer, has anyone heard from him lately?

I’d even read one of the many poor attempts at his impersonation at this stage.

Frustrated Writer

The annual Legal Cheek law blogging conference was a big day in the Legal Cheek diary. Alex had spent months preparing, and had even bought himself a new suit. Hosting this event was his Oscars, and no one would take the limelight from him. He had been up late, as usual, the night before, regaling anyone who would listen with stories of his triumph that would soon come. HE’d wished he’d gotten some sleep. It wasn’t healthy to walk straight from a club into an event like this.

Today more than ever though, despite his throbbing head and nausea, Alex was re-energised. He had been excited about finally breaking out of the drudgery and struggle of running a low level legal version of Buzz Feed, but in his heart of hearts yearned to make it a success, to shove it in the face of his erstwhile colleagues. The doubters, those who had laughed at him for cosying up to any law firm with a shiny penny would see he had made the right choice to break out on his own. He had therefore seized upon the chance to continue to run his publication and in truth needed little persuasion from Katie to take her idea.

Alex had gotten ahead of himself, and had toyed with the idea of booking a prestigious conference centre, but had quickly downsized. He had no idea that hiring the Excel Centre would cost so much, and had dropped the phone in horror when the polite lady with their booking team had told him. He had also had palpitations on hearing the cost of taking the ballroom at the Dorchester, as it would cost more than he had paid Katie and Tom since they had started working for him. So had to settle for the pokey conference room at the Premier Inn in Wembley, where he found himself locked in a side room at nervously thumbing his cue cards, flicking through his PowerPoint slides and muttering his talk under his breath. He had to admit his content was gold. All the other legal blog would be lapping up how to use the same four sentences in different ways in each article.

A loud knock interrupted Alex’s train of thought. He had been expecting this. Both Roll on Friday and Legal Week would be in attendance. He had invited them on the pretext of signing the deal for the transfer of Legal Cheek, but he had other ideas. He had hired the side room in preparation. It was small, but would fit the purposes he had in mind.

Opening the door, Alex’s eye first fell on the short, stout figure of Lisa Willis, the Legal Week editor. Behind her were Matthew Rhodes and Jamie Hamilton of Roll on Friday. Lisa looked relaxed and genial, ditching her usual power suit in favour of a fitted red dress and heals. She was carrying a smart brown leather briefcase. Matthew and Jamie were again very on message, each wearing an orange button down shirt and dark chinos. “Alex, how are you?” Lisa asked, offering her hand.

As Alex shook Lisa’s hand, Matthew nudged Jamie, whispering something in his ear that caused Jamie to let out a peel of laughter. “You’d better come in” Alex said, giving Matthew a look that would turn milk to cheese, and offering the Roll on Friday duo no greeting.

Alex ushered his visitors towards a small wooden folding table he had set out in the middle of the room. He had arranged four chairs around it, and laid out branded Premier Inn pens and paper. Whilst the other journalists sat down, Alex remained standing, facing away from them and peering pensively out of the window. This was the moment that he had been waiting for. He had to execute his plan just right for the full effect. If all went as he hoped, they would never forget this as the beginning of the end for them.

Turning back to the room, Alex put on a genial look. “Can I offer you a drink?”

Lisa was the first to respond, glancing over at an array of tea and coffees and stacked cups on a table in the corner of the room. “I’ll have a coffee if there’s one on offer”.

Alex shook his head. “Come, come, you can’t celebrate with coffee, Lisa. How about something a little stronger?” he reached down into a mini fridge on the refreshment table, producing a litre bottle of Famous Grouse he had bought from the off licence that morning.

Lisa was taken aback. “Not for me, Alex, 8:30am is a little early, even if we are celebrating”. She turned to Matthew and Jamie. “You gents go ahead though”.

Matthew was doodling on a pad, and looked up, disinterested. “Can’t sorry. Training for a triathlon. My PT, Anton, would have a head fit if I touched that, he does my bloods every week now. Just green smoothies for me”.

Jamie glanced over at Alex. “Me neither” he responded, without further explanation.

Alex tutted disdainfully. “Well, I’m the only fun one then. You lot are so boring. Glad I don’t have to work with you!” Alex chuckled. He unscrewed the bottle, gulping the brown liquid like as if he were drinking at an oasis after crawling through the desert. When he had finished, Lisa noted that the bottle had lost half its content. In many contexts that would be impressive, she reflected. In this one, it was nothing but worrying. She concluded that the stories she had heard over the years, but chose not to believe, must be true.

Alex allowed a burp to escape. “Pardon me”. He wiped his mouth with his sleeve, setting the bottle on the side table. “That’s there if you snowflakes change your minds. Let’s get down to business”.

Lisa ignored the comment, and produced three copies of a contract and a Mont Blanc fountain pen from her briefcase. The documents were smartly bound and printed on thick engrossment paper. The final page of each was carefully marked with a small yellow sticker bearing the instruction to “Sign Here”.

Lisa opened the copy on the top to the back page. “Alex, would you like to do the honours?” she asked, genially, holding out her pen.

This was the moment of truth. Alex approached the table, taking the pen from Lisa. His mind flickered briefly. Should he do it? Or should he just sign the document? This was his sliding doors moment. On one hand the path to his VW Camper, a life in the sun bleached vineyards of Tuscany, hopefully with a buxom Italian woman. On the other, a dreary Hackney business estate and sleeping on the cold floor of his mum’s garage. He instinctively knew, despite his better judgement, that he had to take the latter option. He was, notwithstanding his circumstances, a proud man.

Turning away dramatically, Alex released his belt buckle. His trousers dropped, revealing a pair of white y-fronts. Those soon joined the trousers on the floor. Alex bent over, inserting the pen in a place the sun would never shine. “Here you go Lisa, pass me the contract, I’ll sign it in this special way!” he taunted.

Lisa looked on, her face white with shock. She was paralysed. She could never have imagined the sight that would greet her. Matthew and Jamie smirked. They were disgusted too, but inwardly Matthew grudgingly admired his rival’s stunt.

“This is what I think of your deal, losers!” Alex said, turning his torso so he could face the group.

Lisa stood, shakily. She began putting the contracts in her briefcase, struggling to slide them is as her hands shook in horror. “Alex, this is so unprofessional. You know this is a one-time offer”.

Alex rose, popping the pen into his hand and replacing his underwear and trousers. “Whatever. I’ll see you in Court. And I’ll look forward to your apology” he said cheerfully.

Lisa looked back, still in disbelief. “You’re ill Alex. You need help”. She began heading towards the door.

Alex called after her. “Don’t you want your pen, Lisa?”

That pen had been her late father’s, the only thing she had kept from his estate. Her brother had taken the rest, with his new wife. But she could never use it now. She kept walking, and slammed the door after her.

The two Roll on Friday reporters moved to leave. Matthew looked Alex up and down. “We misjudged you Alex. That was some stunt. But it doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy taking you and your plagiarising website down”. He colleague left, leaving Alex alone. Alex was chuffed. Part one was over. Now to take them down publically.

Anonymous

Crying in laughter at this. Please repost on a newer article to get more views.

Anonymous

This is far too good.

Anonymous

A literary masterpiece.

Legna & Lived

When I warned you all about Clifford Chance attracting the most arrogant, self , money and status obsessed , pretentious, c**ts, I wasnt kidding. Any way if you lack a life or you are willing to sacrifice a social life in order to boast our revenue, then Clifford Chance is the firm for you. One great perk is that they don’t beat us during the festive seasons and we let you go home to meet your family twice a week (saturday and sunday). During these days we let you work from home, we call this flexi-work .

Don’t be a Chancer, Join Clifford Chance.

Anonymous

CC Reliably has better hours than the rest of the magic circle so not sure what agenda you’re pushing.

Did we reject you? Good!

Anonymous

LOLOLOLOLOL, CC HR LADY SPOTTED!!!

Legna & Lived

I wasn’t rejected! But its fun to make jokes of what life is really like at Clifford Chance.

Anonymous

All the magic circle firms are like that though – may as well just come to a US firm if you’re willing to take the punishment.

Anonymous

US Firms are worse though. I should know, I was beasted to within an inch of my life by the partners at my last firm

Anonymous

RPC used to offer staff free breakfast if they got to the office before 8.30am. Then they put a vote up and staff voted to lose the free breakfast in exchange for prices not going up 10%. The vote was open to non-fee earners who, surprise, are seldom seen at their desks outside the hours of 9:30 to 17:30. A little over a year later and prices have gone up 10% anyway.

Anonymous

RPC…topkek.

Anonymous

I went to a vac scheme with Clifford Chance two years back. I wouldn’t work there if they paid me senior associate salary from the get go together with all these “perks” – the place is just nasty.

Anonymous

Elaborate?

Anonymous

The best perk at Trowers & Hamlins is that you are free to leave.

Anonymous

I’d pick them over the others on this list for that reason.

Anonymous

Nothing beats the perks at a legal aid funded criminal law firm…

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