News

Allen & Overy moves to reassure junior lawyers after rookie is ‘hospitalised with exhaustion’

By on
35

Firm is ‘monitoring the impact of workloads’

Magic circle giant Allen & Overy has stated that it “takes the wellbeing of our people very seriously” after a report emerged this morning of an associate being “hospitalised with exhaustion”.

According to unnamed “sources” quoted in legal blog RollOnFriday, the rookie was “taken to hospital suffering from exhaustion and stress” after reportedly low staffing levels led to a period of junior lawyers in the firm’s Dubai office “working 18-20 hour days, seven days a week”.

The firm, which scored a C grade for work/life balance in the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2017-18, has issued this official response:

“We have ensured that this individual has been looked after and is recovering. We take the wellbeing of our people very seriously, including monitoring the impact of workloads.”

Allen & Overy is by no means an outlier in terms of what it expects from its solicitors. According to our recently released law firm hours data based on over 2,000 trainee and junior lawyer responses, which has been used by the Financial Times, A&O’s average arrive in the office time is 9:10am and average leave time is 8:43pm. This equates to an average of just over 11 and a half hours spent in the office daily.

Five firms have later average leave the office times than A&O, while six firms have longer average daily hours, including two other magic circle firms. Unsurprisingly, the famously intense work environment of US firms means that it’s their London offices that lead the way on hours.

For all the latest commercial awareness info, and advance notification of Legal Cheek's careers events:

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub

35 Comments

Anonymous

It surprises me that we do not hear about more cases of this happening. I am sure many more end up in hospital where work is a contributory factor (to varying extents), amongst other reasons.

The A&O statement appears to have little substance behind it. If law firms cared about the wellbeing of their junior staff they would do far more to prevent an environment where 12-14+ hour days (and sometimes far worse) are not just tolerated but largely expected.

A&O HR

Well, if you can’t hack the heat….

Anonymous

I possibly could, or I could possibly end up in hospital like the junior lawyer in question.

I would rather not take that risk.

Anonymous

not surprising really. Working to exhaustion takes an environment and a personality to work non-stop.

Most people take breaks, meals and walks even if the schedule is bad.

Anonymous

“We have ensured that this individual has been looked after and is recovering. We take the wellbeing of our people very seriously, including monitoring the impact of workloads.”

Erm…………….

Anonymous

Pre-empting litigation, more like it.

Anonymous

This should be much bigger news, and it’s a scandal which law firms keep quiet. Wellbeing and overwork are massive, massive issues for junior lawyers. The deal for a lot of cash up front in exchange for this kind of exploitation is so not worth it.

Law firms should employ more people and take a hit on their PEP.

HiHi

Imagine working in a boutique law firm, making crap money and still be expected to put in 10 hours a day.

HiHi

Sorry I meant 10+

Corbyn. Symphathiser

How long until karoshi comes to the UK?

ROF Rozzer

ROF called, said it wants it story back. Talentless cretins.

Anonymous

its*

Anonymous

Is it an intention to permanently deprive when you steal content from them every week??!!

Anonymous

Huh?

Anonymous

Twoc’s going on here?

Anonymous

I always said it. High salaries – 70-120k for Juniors are attractive until you realise that you work double the hours than those on a 35k-60k per annum.

Anonymous

It’s remarkable how law firms and clients vie to outdo each other in virtue signalling over diversity (as if they can remould society through the prism of a very small section of it) yet on this issue, where the impact is immediate and direct – nothing.

I have seen clients boasting that they take a firm’s commitment to diversity into account when selecting law firms, but I have yet to hear of a client that refuses to instruct firms that flog their associates for 18 hours a day. Studies show that sustained sleep deprivation has the same effect on brainpower as being drunk, so why does anyone agree to pay £3-400 an hour for a lawyer who is, in effect, pissed out of their mind? It is neither humane nor effective.

Anonymous

Creepy and manipulative way to try and relegate diversity. They should be doing better at both.

Chippy from Tunbridge Wells

It’s telling that A&O say that their concern about wellbeing stretches to monitoring the
“impact” of employee workloads, but doesn’t go as far as saying they are concerned about alleviating their workload in the first place.

Anonymous

Sweatshops for the overeducated, white, middle-classes.

Only here for comments

I am Alex’s complete lack of surprise.

The Financial Times

I am Alex’s raging erection.

Anonymous

Alex seriously what the actual fuck is that twitter picture? Its Beans sketti (à la here comes honey booboo) drab grey lettuce and a raw egg. It looks absolutely fucking grim. Why would you put that as a profile picture on twitter? I cant get it out my mind it is so utterly foul.

Enlightened

Worked for them for one year. Worst year of my life. And I’m a tough cookie. Valuable lessons in how not to waste your life and the kind of person you never want to be, mind you. Verdict: just don’t!

Anonymous

Are you still practicing commercial law (if you don’t mind me asking)?

For me, it still seems worth it to battle through a few years before doing something else.

DICKSWINGING DAVIS POLK MALE

“tough cookie”

“worked with them for one year”

pick one, sweetheart

(128)(11)

Anonymous

You are exactly the problem. If you wish to wave your dick around, may I suggest you do so somewhere it will be appreciated.

Your mum’s house.

Anonymous

Which pretty much illustrates the original point.

Must be tricky swinging around a dick that small… #anonymousforareasoneh

Insider

Heavy workload is inevitable in magic cirlcle, but leaving things to develop all the way through to hospitalisation of associates smacks neglect and the “you are fuxking paid well so who cares how you are or what you feel” attitude. This causes lost of well-trained staff and the news will do them damage when competing for talents with other firms. Not something just to laugh off.

Insider

Unfortunately the “you’re paid well so get on with it” attitude flows through every department in A&O.

Wouldn’t be unheard of for a partner to throw the toys out of their pram on a daily basis over the smallest of things, but you just have to get on with it.

Anonymous

Paid well? Meanwhile, both partners and associates at Latham, Weil, W&C and the other White Shoe firms are dealing with the same elitism/ neuroticism/ sociopathic work environment as A&O but for double the money. Once this young lawyer recovers they’ll have to go right back to work. At least the American shops pay enough for the recovering lawyers to take extra time off to contemplate their life decisions and inevitably find a new job.

Anonymous

Not surprising, I worked for an international law firm and ended up off sick with exhaustionsue or overwork and a bully supervisor….the second my sick note expired I was told the firm wasn’t the right place for me and to find a new job…funnily enough, I work at a firm now which acknowledged that I’m a human being and I’m doing very well and a million times happier…and I got a pay rise to move there…

Anonymous

Would you be ever so kind and say which firm you moved to?

Anonymous

Ohhh, the erotic joys of legal aid work…

BoredLegalReccy

“which has been used by the Financial Times”

Absolutely nothing to do with the article, but good effort at crow-barring that in.

Join the conversation

Related Stories