Analysis

Revealed: The law firms with the best perks 2018–19

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From swimming pools to sleeping pods — and everything in between

We asked the question ‘How good are your firm’s perks?’ to over 2,000 trainees and junior associates at the country’s leading corporate law firms, as part of this year’s Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey. Respondents then rated their places of work on a perk-o-meter ranging from one to ten — with one defined as ‘Ryanair’, and ten as ‘Mayfair’.

Ten firms secured our highest A* ranking. Here is the shortlist, listed alphabetically, for the best corporate law firm perks 2018–19…

Allen & Overy

The roof terraces (there are three) at Allen & Overy’s London office win rave reviews. And with a heavily subsidised bar that serves delectable spritz — it’s happy trainees all round.

When they’re not clinking glasses over closing drinks, these trainees have a complete range of magic circle essentials to sample. 24-hour gym, tickets to Wembley gigs, free tennis lessons and taxi rides after 9pm are just some of the perks on offer. Fancy brushing up on your violin skills? Well, there are “music practice rooms”, as one insider tells us. Fancy.

“Private medical care is fantastic,” adds a rookie. Indeed, the firm has its very own doctor (to deliver its legendary annual flu jabs), dentist and physiotherapist on-site to keep its trainees in tip-top shape. “It really is very convenient, particularly when working long hours,” says another.

Read Allen & Overy’s Legal Cheek profile in full, featuring its 2019 scorecard grades and firm review.

Clifford Chance

“There’s an endless supply of freebies,” says one Clifford Chance trainee, “you just need to know how to access them.”

Swanky gym featuring “squash courts” and “a dance studio for zumba lovers”, private healthcare, on-site dry-cleaning facilities, hairdressers and even hot dinners delivered to your desk after 7:30pm to keep late-nighters’ spirits high. Over the summer apparently every World Cup match was screened in the firm’s canteen. Footie fanatics rejoice.

The firm’s box at the 02 Academy is another highlight. Trainees can apply for tickets. To make the evening gratis they recommend taking a partner with you to cover drinks costs, because at CC “trainees never pay”.

Not to forget the firm’s signature perk — the firm’s very own swimming pool, which according to one rookie is “usually empty”.

Read Clifford Chance’s Legal Cheek profile in full, featuring its 2019 scorecard grades and firm review.

Freshfields

Where do you start with the lavish menu of perks offered by magic circler Freshfields?

As an aperitif there’s the cultural stuff, like two-for-one National Theatre tickets, and use of the firm’s corporate membership to the National Portrait Gallery. Next up are the ski trips and other sports tours abroad, such as a recent all expenses paid netball tour to La Manga, Spain.

The main attraction has to be the amazing health perks, the centre point of which is the “great” on-site gym. In addition to this, Freshfields employs its own doctor, dentist, masseuse, and physiotherapist, who rookie lawyers can pop down to see between deals. To round off there are the £15 meal vouchers after 7pm and free taxis home after 9pm.

Read Freshfields’ Legal Cheek profile in full, featuring its 2019 scorecard grades and firm review.

Hogan Lovells

Trainees love one of the best in-house gyms in the City. OK, so it’s in the basement but the “fantastic” Hogan Lovells fitness centre puts many private health clubs to shame.

When they’re not burning off the calories, the firm’s rookies are consuming them in the “decent” canteen, enjoying discounts at local lunch restaurants, and munching “excellent” cookies in the firm’s meeting rooms. Look out, too, for “champagne trolleys when the team wins a deal or new client”.

Read Hogan Lovells’ Legal Cheek profile in full, featuring its 2019 scorecard grades and firm review.

Kirkland & Ellis

Kirkland & Ellis’ perks sound like something out of The Great Gatsby. Corporate hospitality seats at the Yankees, Stewards enclosure at Henley, ‘Attorney retreats’ at swanky five star hotels with lucky trainees tagging along. Kirkland’s London office, located on the 19th-25th floors of Sir Norman Foster’s iconic Gherkin building in the City, is also rather glamorous.

Other freebies include free breakfast, a £25 dinner allowance after 7pm, paid taxis past 9pm. There is even a concierge service. Given the demanding hours, trainees may find they’re making use of these extras rather regularly.

And then, of course, there’s the money. That $190,000 dollar-tied NQ pay could soar even higher after a Sterling plunge no-deal Brexit…

Read Kirkland & Ellis’ Legal Cheek profile in full, featuring its 2019 scorecard grades and firm review.

The 2019 Firms Most List – featuring the Legal Cheek Survey results in full

Linklaters

From onsite a gym “that’s better than most Virgins”, to 24/7 food from the excellent canteen, and sleeping pods for those working on big deals, Linklaters is a mini-world in its own right. There’s also a doctor, physio, shop and dry-cleaning service within the megafirm’s Silk Street headquarters, where ice cream is on supply “most days in the summer”.

It’s one of the friendlier places in the City too, with “amazing staff in the print room, IT and the post room who go above and beyond and make trainees lives so much easier”.

For those stepping outside Links’ warm magic circle bosom, fear not, fun abounds. The outside world holds such joys such as “a day trip to Paris as a deal-closing celebration” and “free entry to all top London art exhibitions and private views”.

Read Linklaters’ Legal Cheek profile in full, featuring its 2019 scorecard grades and firm review.

Milbank

US firm Milbank has a neat list of perks to write home about. “I could mention the medical or dental care packages, but the free Costco membership clearly wins the day!” quips one trainee.

Plenty of stateside trips for the firm’s London lot are another attraction. There’s “orientation week” for associates in the Big Apple and the prestigious ‘Milbank@Harvard’ programme, which sees juniors trained by Harvard boffins for a week each year — nice jollies to look forward to. The jet set lifestyle continues: one rookie raves about “European retreats” and this year’s apparently took place in the sunny South of France.

“Does the salary count?” asked one trainee. Indeed it does. “$$$$$$$$$$$$$” adds a colleague.

Read Milbank’s Legal Cheek profile in full, featuring its 2019 scorecard grades and firm review.

Ropes & Gray

When you’re aged 25 earning £115,000 working in a manageably-sized London office of a US firm where the average leave time is a not too bad 8:10pm, and you don’t have to pay for your Deliveroo if you stay past 8pm, what more do you want? No wonder Ropes & Gray rookies are happy with their lot.

Another Ropes & Gray attraction are the numerous charity projects that it is involved in. Recently the firm’s London office has taken part in running and cycling challenges and had lawyers sleep rough for homeless charities and other good causes.

Read Ropes & Gray’s Legal Cheek profile in full, featuring its 2019 scorecard grades and firm review.

Skadden

Skadden is a firm which makes the A* grade, we sense, less because of the quality of its biscuits and away days and more, perhaps, due to cold hard cash. The firm’s NQs earn a whopping £118,000, which buys a lot of sushi/theatre tickets/champagne brunches. What’s more, all associates get their own office decked out in wood furniture at the firm’s London base in Canary Wharf.

On top of this, Skadden subsidises its rookies’ gym membership and provides them with a reasonably plentiful supply of “good social events”.

Business trips to the mothership in New York are also a regular feature of trainee and junior lawyer life.

Read Skadden’s Legal Cheek profile in full, featuring its 2019 scorecard grades and firm review.

White & Case

Healthcare hasn’t gone amiss at international giant White & Case. Treats include subsidised yoga, weekly therapist sessions and an annual health and wellness allowance called ‘Wellness Works for Me’. “£500 a year to spend on gym/exercise classes/massages(!)” gushes one trainee.

Generosity spreads further. After completing their training, which includes a guaranteed international secondment, rookies can take “three-month qualification leave”.

The money is not bad either. London newly qualified solicitor salaries hit a generous £105,000 this year.

Read White & Case’s Legal Cheek profile in full, featuring its 2019 scorecard grades and firm review.


Peruse all of the firm’s new 2018-19 survey scorecards — including training, quality of work, perks and much more — via the Legal Cheek Firms Most List 2018-19.

95 Comments

Anonymous

Thanks for this, Alex.

Just out of interest, and for the sake of full disclosure and transparency, how much money (if any) do the above firms give you in sponsorship and advertising?

And if they do give you money, how did you make sure that that fact did not, in any way, bias the results?

Anonymous

Cheers for this, Al.

I’m curious, and in the interest of full transparency and disclosure, how much do these firms (if at all) provide sponsorship/advertising contributions?

If you are receiving contributions, what checks do you have in place to ensure that this does not affect the results of surveys such as this one?

Anonymous

That’s called good/responsible journalism. Journalism here they do not.

Anonymous

Skadden haven’t been giving NQs their own offices in most departments for years. Even when you do manage to get one, it’s a windowless cave that people desperately try to escape from. As for the social activities, aside from the very occasional and not particularly well attended attorney drinks, there’s not a vast amount going on. By no means a bad thing depending what your personality etc is like, but I don’t really know where these comments have come from as they don’t really reflect reality.

Anonymous

Nothing on LC reflects reality. Just the £££ of pay-for-puff that firms think will help them ensnare gullible young graduates

Anonymous

Alex,

There is a gaping hole in this review. You have missed out the one firm that matters.

So please, we entreat you, tell us what the perks are at top titanic titan Greenberg ‘the Titan’ Glusker LLP.

Give the people what they want.

Anonymous

Because they don’t pay sponsorship money to LC. As if taxis home and evening meals are anything to get excited about anyway.

Anonymous

We finally got rid of the “brothers and sisters” guy. Can we also please forget about Greenberg in the comments?

Anonymous

LMAO like you could get into Greenberg Glusker. Dream on.

Anonymous

I am waiting for “JD Partner” to comment on a Gym that is better than most Virgins”……..

Anonymous

HAHA. The Links gym is more like a Pure Gym.

Anonymous

Forgetting for one second that your comment is actually just incorrect; how entitled do you have to be that you feel you can complain about a gym that is completely free to use?

Anonymous

Quite entitled.

Anonymous

Something can be free to use and still shit.

Yes, they didn’t have to give you it at all, but this is an article about perks, so seems quite relevant that some of the onsite gyms are pretty useless relative to proper gyms.

Like CC’s pool – bit of a nice gimmick but it’s tiny so pretty bad for doing lengths in.

Anonymous

Welcome to the office. You’ll never leave.

Anonymous

Weird article – a bit like an old episode of MTV Cribs. The glass eyed musician shows you round their 15 bed mansion, barely containing the mental and physical breakdown that could occur at any second.

Anonymous

This is so accurate

Anonymous

Brilliant.

Anonymous

Perks
– doctor
– gym (if it’s a serious one)
– canteen (if good)

Not perks
– what not included above (eg taxi home after working 3am: are we serious?)

PS: It is beyond me how a person could consider a perk being secluded in the mountains for a week with the people who consistently ruin your Fridays and weekends.

Anonymous

‘Stewards enclosure at Henley’

I’d rather have my eyes gouged with needles.

Anonymous

Moron. Best view of the racing without getting on a launch.

Anonymous

im sure you’d meet some really nice friendly down to earth people there

Anonymous

“down to earth people” aka annoying, common, mucky pr*cks.

Anonymous

What did the juniors over at Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP’s London office ‘quip’ about the perks there out of interest?

Anonymous

Millions

Anonymous

Wait a sec… so I get to have my haircut at work, go to the doctor at work, go to the dentist at work, go to concerts with colleagues, go the gym at work and sleep at work?!?! And a free ride home after a 12 hour day of bibling?!?!

This is simply too good to be true!

Eager hairy beaver

I know, unbelievable!!! fuck!!!!

Anonymous

I find it odd that offering an in-house doctor is seen as a perk – How about allowing someone the time out of the office to go and seek proper medical care if they need it?

Especially after you’ve beasted them within an inch of their life, so you can carry around some mythical bull shit trophy for how long you make your trainees work…

Anonymous

Where is Dechart on this list?

Dr Frankenstein

d**k-art you mean?

Anonymous

Is the NQ salary at Ropes still £115K?

Anonymous

No tree fiddy

Anonymous

About twofiddyfive for a big boi

Anonymous

Slaughter and May is noticeably absent. Real firms don’t need to sponsor Legal Cheek to boost their applicant to acceptance ratio.

Anonymous

Yeah, we all know the four other MC firms are really struggling with their applicant to acceptance ratios.

Anonymous

Well, the strength of their brand doesn’t compare to Slaughter’s, who are in a league of their own when it comes to prestige. The applicant to acceptance ratio is merely a statistical indicator of the firms’ brand equity among prospective trainees.

Anonymous

The difference in prestige between Slaughter’s and Freshfields and Links is negligible

Anonymous

What about Slaughter’s vs Kirkland?

Anonymous

Obviously Slaughters. If K&E had equivalent prestige they wouldn’t need to pay market leading salaries. Do you think they do that out of kindness?

Anonymous

Slaughters is less profitable than Kirkland and does not have the same practice area focus of PE, Lev Fin, Funds and high value arbitration.

Anonymous

Slaughter’s revenue for 2017/2018 £571 million.

Anonymous

Absolutely no comparison to the revenue of U.S firms.

Anonymous

Still pretty damn thicc for a firm with one office, and three minor satellites. That’s about as profitable as BigLaw gets you moron

Anonymous

This guy needs to get off Slaughters’ dick.

Even BB bankers aren’t quite this fanatical about their reputation in the market.

Most lawyers loathe slaughters, and they are well known for underpaying at associate level (yeah, if you make it through the torturous Partnership process, remuneration is obviously fantastic but is there any serious City firm where that isn’t the case? And it’s far easier to achieve at those other firms.)

Anonymous

Antoinette is that you?

Anonymous

Kirkland/Latham/Skadden/Cleary have international prestige that the magic circle (Slaughters included) could only dream of. They pay more because they are more profitable firms.

anonymouse

Nope. Slaughters is pretty much in a league of its own for high-end M&A work, alongside other MCs trailing behind – but still before US firms.

US firms are, on the other hand, more profitable because they tend to push their lawyers even harder (and with considerably less support staff / structure behind them) in specific and very profitable areas only (PE/Lev Fin/Arbitration) etc.

Slaughters is essentially the UK’s equivalent of a Wachtell / Cravath, it simply cannot be compared to other firms such as Kirkland, Latham, no matter how excellent the latter are.

This is, of course, my own personal opinion, though I never met any lawyer in the City who thinks or would dare speak otherwise; make of it what you want.

Anonymous

100% this. Cue the Kirkland fanboys

Anonymous

Whilst your comment is true to Kirkland which is brilliant in narrow areas, other law firms such as Skadden and Latham are full service. The hours there will have little difference to Slaughters or the magic circle. You say “Slaughters is in a league of its own for high end M&A deals”, yet Latham tops deal volumes for Q3 in 2018 for legal advisers. Slaughter and May is undoubtedly a brilliant firm but in a few years time US firms like Skadden, LW, Cleary will be alongside them for high end U.K. M&A. Considering the difference between the UK legal market and the US legal market (and the size of the two respective countries), all top 10 US firms are at least as good as Slaughters

Anonymous

“They pay more because they are more profitable” –

Nonsense. US firms are not communist. They pay what they feel they need to pay in order to get the people they want – invariably, this has to be more than MC firms because of the more limited profile of almost all US firms in London.

Slaughters in particular amongst MC firms can absolutely afford to pay its associates more than it does. They get away with paying what they pay because their prestige and established reputation means top students are still clamouring to join. The day Oxbridge students no longer consider working for them is the day they’ll start trying to compete on pay. Until then, they won’t.

Anonymous

The US firms are simply paying NQs the equivalent to their first year associates at US firms. Anyone “clambering to join” Slaughters when they could earn twice as much at a US firm for essentially the same hours needs their head examined. Money isn’t everything but the pay discrepancy is too much for anyone to sensibly turn down Slaughters for Cleary etc.

Anonymous

Cleary are nobodies in London, this is not New York (they aren’t top 10 there either, for what it’s worth). They’ve also been haemorrhaging staff in London for a variety of interrelated reasons.

But, you’re a student pointing out they pay more than most, and thus anybody who turns them down for less money needs their head tested. You must be right.

Anonymous

Excellent marketing from Slaughters HR lady.

Anonymous

So are you telling me you would seriously turn down a Skadden TC for Slaughters?

Anonymous

Look, it depends. It’s a close call because Skadden is also excellent in London. You might want to go there for money, but you might just as well want to go for the work in certain areas. There are also cultural and training experience factors which should guide your thinking. If you’re asking whether anyone ever turns down Skadden, yes they absolutely do, and sometimes for MC firms. If you’re really interested in employment or pensions or something like that, you’re not going to pick skadden are you.

I would not pick a Cleary TC over Slaughters, no. It is a much weaker office in London and weaker brand overall. You could go purely on the basis of the nq salary, but I would consider that blinkered. Coming from slaughters you could move to a higher paying firm than Cleary anyway, if money is your priority. At junior associate level, lateral moves to US firms (especially in mainstream practice areas) are not especially difficult and certainly much easier than obtaining a TC in the first instance. MC candidates are highly sought after.

Anonymous

“weekly therapist sessions”

CC

Not to forget the firm’s signature perk — the firm’s very own swimming pool, which according to one rookie is “usually empty”.

BECAUSE NO CC FEE EARNER HAS F*CKING TIME TO SWIM IN IT THEYRE P*SSING BLOOD BILLING 90+ HOURS A WEEK GODDAMMIT

Anonymous

You need a mental health break.

Anonymous

what are the perks like at CMS?

Anonymous

2 dog biscuits if you stay past 10.32pm.

CMS MegaLad

Free range chicken coops, smashing view across Cannon Street, staff annual bonus.

Anonymous

Staff annual bonus? Never heard of her

Anonymous

The new office was a nice space and there was a subsidised canteen until Olswang and Nabarro moved in. There used to be sparkling water on tap.

There is a CMS football world cup each year where you can fly to a random European city and fuck some European colleagues you’ll likely never have to see again until next year in Amsterdam/Glasgow/whatever hotel you hook up in.

Anonymous

Brutal lad, brutal.

Anonymous

The new office is a glorified chicken coop which probably violates EU regulations on keeping caged hens.

Anonymous

Where is Duncan Lewis and Irwin Mitchell?????

S&M apprentice just-about-to-be

What are the perks like at Slaughters?

Anonymous

Prestige, and free water.

Anonymous

What are the perks like at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP in London? Surprised the juniors there haven’t quipped at all.

Anonymous

Sweaty pit, avoid at all costs. You’ll be nonstop tonguing Gary B’s taint

Anonymous

What’s a taint?

Anonymous

is dentons a good shop?

Anonymous

yup. all kinds of bargains to be found, great vegetable aisle and a delightful cheese counter.

Anonymous

I’ve heard at IM you get an hour of central heating per week during the winter months. Never forget.

Anonymous

Back for a brief stint at your £1200 + bills rented flat before returning to the billing slaveship.

Anonymous

Good luck mate. £1200 and bills will get you maybe a garden shed in Tooting Bec.

Anonymous

It’s. Not. A. Garden. Shed.

It’s a Swedish inspired bijou studio constructed from treated wood and comes with a pitched roof. The shared cooking and washing facilities inside the nearby house provide a sense of community.

Anonymous

Very good

Anonymous

“Look guys, I really appreciate the £100k+ salary, but what I really need is that Costco membership so that I can go and buy myself a six litre bottle of fabric softener so that I can save a few quid…”

Anonymous

Sad that LC doesn’t make more of an effort to get data from firms other than the 10ish that are always covered. Top tier US like Latham, Gibson Dunn, Davis Polk, SullCrom, Cleary almost completely absent from any article…

Anonymous

Fried Frank, Proskauer, Pillsbury, Bracewell, Baker Botts…LC clearly covers NQ roles and benefits and so it’s not appropriate to be ignoring these firms and those above.

Anonymous

Yes – there must be anywhere in the region of 100-500 lateral moves at the junior end in the City to these firms (and the firms above – Latham, Davis Polk etc.). It’s misrepresentative to ignore them.

Anonymous

Covering tens of US firms would probably not be feasible/find an audience, but the Vault top 20 that have London TCs should be a must imo. Firms like GDC, Davis Polk, Sidley, Covington or Debevoise are world beaters but never mentioned.

Anonymous

Not Dechert?

Anonymous

Vinsons, Akin, King & Spalding

Anonymous

‘use of the firm’s corporate membership to the National Portrait Gallery.’

The national portrait to which entry is free?

Anonymous

Not the special exhibitions you uncultured swine.

Anonymous

Yeah, “special” exhibitions

Anonymous

“special” exhibitions are the trainees the associates bitch about when drunk on the slopes. solid.

Anonymous

I find it laughable that “sleeping pods” are listed as a perk.
“We’d rather you just slept in the office than pay you enough to live within 2 hours of the office- pods”

Anon

> law firms
> perks
Pick one.

Mr anon

Yeah, but at Slater and Gordon we get free tea bags, milk and sugar, beat that!

Anonymous

Since when could “sleeping pods” be considered a perk?? Sounds like worker exploitation to me.

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