Analysis

The most impressive law firm offices — 2019 edition

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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

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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

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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

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)

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