Analysis

The most impressive law firm offices — 2019 edition

By on
75

Imagine going to work in these buildings!

We asked over 2,000 trainees and junior associates at the leading law firms across the UK to rate the impressiveness of their offices as part of the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2018-19. Is the place they spend their working days (and sometimes nights!) closer in resemblance to the Blitz or the Ritz? Ten out of over 80 firms surveyed received an A*, while 33 got an A, 28 a B and 12 a C. Here is a rundown of the best performers who bagged the top grade.

Allen & Overy

📸 Instagram (@jup84)

Situated in the heart of the Spitalfields Market development on the City-Shoreditch borders between Liverpool Street and Brick Lane, Allen & Overy’s (A&O) London headquarters isn’t necessarily where you’d expect to find a magic circle law firm. But over the last couple of years A&O has turned this quirkiness to its advantage, with its Fuse lawtech start-up incubator suited perfectly to the location.

Inside A&O is everything you’d expect from a megafirm. The vast office — which resembles a business class airline check-in desk in the lobby — includes a free gym, dry cleaning facilities, a shop selling Bollinger and Tiffany jewellery and a roof top bar that’s popular with trainees and junior associates.

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

Bird & Bird

📸 Instagram (@ellacott7)

Bird & Bird’s London office is “brand spanking new with all the bling,” according to one insider. Legal Cheek can attest to the impressiveness of the building, located in an ultra modern new development between Chancery Lane and Fleet Street.

The views from the glamorous top-floor restaurant are a sight to behold, and more than make up for the handful of “teething problems” that have arisen during the firm’s first year in its new home.

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

Burges Salmon

“I love it, I feel inspired every time I walk in the building” — you don’t hear that sentiment expressed of most workplaces, but this is how one Burges Salmon trainee describes their fantastic office.

Set around a central atrium, at the heart of which is the firm’s famed canteen (which is the current holder of Legal Cheek’s Best Law Firm Canteen gong), Burges Salmon’s Bristol headquarters is a mesh of light and bright colours. The effect of the clever design which encourages use of a large communal area is that lawyers from different departments get to know each other.

Temple Meads station is a two-minute walk away, which is very handy for trips to London.

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

Clifford Chance

“We are the head lessee of a 31-story skyscraper, which should be occupied by a JPMorgan, not a law firm and we still operate over half of the floor space. It is pretty damn impressive. We have a music room, with a grand piano. We arguably have the best office of any law firm in the country,” reports one proud Clifford Chance rookie.

And then there’s the famous swimming pool. Nuff said.

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

Gowling WLG

📸 Twitter (@GowlingTrainees)

“Two Snowhill has ruined all other offices for me,” reflects an awestruck Birmingham-based Gowling WLG trainee of the firm’s “very smart, light and open-plan” new office in Britain’s second city.

“The views over London Bridge!” exclaims a London colleague, from the firm’s impressive gaffe on the South Bank.

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

Kirkland & Ellis

So, as you may be aware, Kirkland & Ellis’ London office is spread over six floors of perhaps the most iconic building in Britain.

“Gherkin > Ritz” is how one of the firm’s junior lawyers puts it. “The Gherkin is a pretty cool building to work in — nice views!” adds another, with admirable understatement.

All of the firm’s employees have access to Searcys, the bar at the top of Sir Norman Foster’s masterpiece.

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

Norton Rose Fulbright

“Probably the best front door view of any top City firm,” is how one of Norton Rose Fulbright’s young lawyers describes his firm’s office, and we’re inclined to agree.

The global firm’s London hub sits next door to City Hall on the bank of the Thames — looking across at the Walkie Talkie, the Cheesegrater and the rest of the City of London skyline.

A glass lift takes lawyers up to their offices from the building’s airy atrium. The last stop is the ninth floor client area, which opens out into a spectacular roof terrace.

But Norton Rose Fulbright’s office isn’t just for show — they care about the stuff behind the scenes too. “There’s someone who comes around and adjusts your chair/screens etc. for comfort which is great,” we are told.

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

Reed Smith

Head up the blue-lit escalator in the Broadgate Tower, take the rocket lift to the 32nd floor and welcome to Reed Smith and one of the most incredible vistas in the City. “Have you seen our views?! :)” observes one trainee.

Floor to ceiling windows magnify the effect, as does a mezzanine set-up that allows lawyers to stroll up to the 33rd floor. This is more oligarch’s London penthouse than a law firm. What a place to go to work everyday!

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

Ropes & Gray

Nestled between Fleet Street and St Paul’s, Ropes & Gray’s gleaming London office lacks the iconic status and spectacular views of some rival firms, but everything inside it is just really good.

From the coffee to the desks to the loos, the 60 Ludgate Hill development combines 5* boutique hotel levels of luxury with a professional environment where everything a young lawyer could need is on hand. “Incredible!” gushes an impressed new recruit.

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

Taylor Wessing

Step out of the lift at Taylor Wessing and you’re greeted by big, bold floor-to-ceiling photos and artwork. The pieces are quite an introduction to this very un-law firm like office, which is full of nice touches — like TechBar, the firm’s very own IT helpdesk similar to Apple’s Genius Bar.

The jewel in the crown is the ninth floor terrace overlooking the Royal Courts of Justice and The Thames.

Read Taylor Wessing’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.

75 Comments

Dick Wreckard

Survey rendered worthless by failing to mention top titans Greenberg Glusker’s titanic Bladerunner style corporate pyramid that towers majestically, nay titanically, over the corporate cityscape. Master of all it surveys.

(40)(1)

Kronos

And on the doorway, these words appear:

Here is Greenberg, Toppest of Titans
Look at my profit per equity titan, ye mighty, and despair!

(22)(0)

Anonymous

I heard they were gunna 4G pitch on the roof

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I heard they were going to 4G pitch on the roof

(0)(2)

Anonymous

Yeah but at Linklaters we have a doctor and two bedrooms. I may have a view of a brick wall from my office but at least I can still get treated if I’m coming to work through a serious illness.

(27)(1)

Stanley Pontlarge

Or if you suffer a freak badminton injury?

(18)(0)

DACB

The doctor makes sure you are branded ‘fit to work’ when you’re on a death bed and the bedroom is so you don’t have an excuse to go home.

(8)(2)

anon

I get sick leave or work from home, but whatever.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

I’m joking. I do work at Linklaters but they are actually really good about sickness.

(6)(0)

DWF NQ

The walkie talkie?

(4)(2)

Kim

My thought exactly, love working in the Walkie Talkie with our Bistro overlooking the beautifully skyline and access to the iconic sky gardens.

(0)(4)

Anonymous

I’d be more impressed by a firm that wasn’t full of tw*ts. Haven’t come across one yet though.

(41)(0)

Anonymous

You know this is biased because Hogan Lovells isn’t on here. As a future trainee at an MC firm who (reluctantly) chose the MC over HL after vac schemes at both, I can safely say HL has a better office than all MC firms (having interviewed at all 5). It is ridiculous.

(8)(37)

Anonymous

9:27 has issues.

(27)(0)

Anonymous

God, your penis must be MASSIVE

(15)(0)

Anonymous

Were you embarrassed to write this gushing, hagiographic bumslurry? I bet you were embarrassed. You should have been embarrassed, certainly. Go on. Admit it. You were embarrassed, weren’t you.

(33)(0)

Anonymous

Ah yes, Reed Smith. Where you need to walk 300 metres to the lifts, wait for one to arrive and take you to another floor, before getting a coffee that doesn’t taste like piss from the canteen or see someone from literally every other department on any of the 500 other floors.

(7)(1)

Anonymous

Do they not have stairs or are you just too obese to take them?

(7)(1)

Anonymous

No stairs, you have to take the lift even just for one floor.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Clearly you don’t know your way around the firm!

(0)(0)

Anonymous

So what happens in a fire drill? Do you all just jump out of the windows?

(23)(0)

Anonymous

Fire drills, Mondays, etc…. don’t really need a specific occasion for that at RS

(0)(0)

Anonymous

As a construction lawyer, I have to borrow the words of Karl Pilkington

“I’d rather live in a cave with a view of a palace than live in a palace with a view of a cave”

(13)(1)

Anonymous

Really?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

What about CityPoint – home to, among other firms, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP. Top top offices.

(8)(1)

Anonymous

Never heard of her

(1)(1)

Anonymous

One of the most elite outfits in the City.

(4)(1)

Anonymous

Lmao never heard of them, is it a UK firm?

(0)(6)

Anonymous

You’re a moron

(2)(0)

Looks who’s the moron

Lmao still up and working at 3am?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Yes and what? It’s worth it.

(0)(1)

Angry trainee

No it’s not…

Anonymous

Big, sparkly offices are great – But in reality, what benefit is drawn, particularly for those who are likely to have been surveyed (i.e. trainees)?

I understand that big firms need to be in the City, that’s a no brainer, but is there a need for a swimming pool that no one uses?

Shit like that costs money, and a lot of it, which the firm obviously needs to recoup from its clients. The result is that the client is charged more, the client then expects more, the firm then expects more of its employees, and then you end up with the trainee who doesn’t go home for half a week, or even worse, the chap at Burges in the States who kills himself because of the pressure being put on him.

If these top firms are serious about improving employee well being and mental health, then they need to stop the unnecessary dick swinging and get real.

(31)(2)

Anonymous

This ^

But obviously nobody gives a fuck about views just like the one expressed above. It’d be way too obvious, too easy and too practical. Let’s just stick to beasting people.

(9)(0)

Anonymous

Exactly – And I dare say (as a client of City law firms in my professional capacity), not many of us really care what you’re offices look like; we just want the work done.

(9)(3)

Anonymous

Congratulations.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Why do firms with open plan offices feature on here?

(25)(0)

Anonymous

Cause open plan is shite?

(2)(0)

CMS Hen

No it’s TOP

(4)(2)

Anonymous

I hear at CMS you need to share desks now

(5)(0)

CMS toiler

More than this, we need to share traps when going to drop kecks

(3)(0)

Random passer-by

Although many of the offices are nice, and it is better to work in a nice office than a tatty one, the reality is that away from the client area, many offices are quite similar and not really that great.

(16)(0)

Anonymous

Are Ropes still paying £115K NQ?

(3)(0)

Anonymous

No

(0)(0)

Anonymous trainee

When you first join one of these titans, the building impresses you, as does everything. When you ”realise” (and I say that loosely as everybody knows what to expect) that you have worked your way into hell, none of this matters.

(10)(0)

Anonymous

How much are Ropes paying now?

(0)(0)

Anon

You mean Ropes and Chairs?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

About tree fiddy

(9)(0)

Anonymous

130k base (after 3 months probation)

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Source?

(0)(0)

Mustafa Salam

Whats pay at Sullivan and Cromwell these days? I completed seats in critical motor injury, pay day loan claims and penile fractures and would relish to work in this top law firm solicitors practice

(12)(2)

Anonymous

You can’t fracture a penis. Believe me. I’ve tried.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Yes you can, it’s a colloquial term for rupture of the corpus cavernosum.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Ah yes, but I’m a professional; I don’t use colloquial terms. I couldn’t turn up in court and ask the judge to think about m’clients hurty willy.

(8)(0)

Global transactions associate

We have a pet rat called Nigel

(3)(0)

Anonymous

You are UKIP, and I claim by five euros.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

You are incomprehensible and banal

(0)(1)

Anonymous

I like banal. It beings to mind bananas and anal.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

I just want a nice window in my office to look at Eve’s sexy legs.

(6)(0)

Anonymous

Do you play badminton?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I do when my ACL isn’t ruptured.

(4)(0)

Help

Decherts offices are distinctively fab! And so are the people and the work and the hours! Love it here 😍

(5)(2)

Anonymous

lmao

(1)(0)

Anonymous

LLL

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Money is poor though

(0)(0)

Anonymous

When will law firms realise that for all the hot air about pro bono, diversity and swimming pools, what would really matter to current and future lawyers is a serious focus on work life balance and employee mental health? Sigh.

(16)(0)

Anonymous

They realise it mate, they just don’t care and aren’t pressurised enough to force a change.

(5)(0)

JD Partner

Our offices are great. Privacy glass and sound proofing for the “sleeping pods”.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

include alibi and that’s perfect

(2)(0)

East London boi

I think you’ll find it’s all about Duncan Lewis, Dalston branch innit!

(0)(1)

Ex-NRF-er

“There’s someone who comes around and adjusts your chair/screens etc. for comfort which is great,”

The most glorified way of describing a desk H&S assessment. Definitely not what it seems.

(11)(0)

Anonymous

For real. Isn’t this a legal requirement?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Even if it isn’t it’s hardly a selling point is it – Jeez, even in the regions we have a bloke to come and sort the desk if we need it…

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Have you seen K&L Gates’ offices at One New Change?! Definitely on this list.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

HMP Lethill is a far more attractive open prison than any of those depicted here. And nobody owns the inmates there. They can all do as they wish and it’s in beautiful rolling green countryside. Most have no debt unlike the people who enter these ugly prisons. No stress either. They even enter the Chelsea Flower Show. No gravestone epitaph said “I wish I’d spent more time in an office”.
#onelifeliveit

(4)(0)

Comments are closed.

Related Stories