Analysis

Revealed: The law firms with the best social life — 2019 edition

By on
48

Unlimited bar tabs, festivals and a ‘Pedibus’! It’s work hard and play even harder for these corporate trainees

Corporate law and social life are two realms you wouldn’t normally think mix. After all, the City is notorious for its long hours, looming deadlines and copious amounts of paperwork which, it would seem, leave little time for leisurely pursuits. But it’s not all work and no play.

Ten law firms have been awarded our highest A* grade for social life in Legal Cheek‘s Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey of over 2,000 trainees and junior associates at the country’s 80 leading corporate law firms.

As part of the exclusive survey, respondents were asked to rank their firm’s social life on a one to ten sliding scale, with one being ‘Assange’ and the top score of ten defined as, ‘Kardashian’.

Here is the shortlist, listed alphabetically, for the law firms with the best social life 2019…

Bristows

Bristows performed well across the board in this year’s survey, bagging A*s in six categories. The social scene at its Blackfriars base is highly rated. “There is always something going on,” says one rookie, “from the weekly drinks trolley to the black-tie dinner dance.”

Leading intellectual property practice Bristows, which overlooks the Thames, is not short of top-end bars, clubs and pubs in the vicinity. “Plenty of casual and more formal drinks events,” responds one insider.

One particular highlight that caught Legal Cheek‘s attention is the “Pedibus social around the City”. Drinks on board as you peddle your way through the streets of London taking in the hustle and bustle and City sights (while burning those calories) is definitely one way to socialise.

Browne Jacobson

The social scene at Nottingham-based national law firm Browne Jacobson is buzzing. “People will go out but no ‘obligation’ to be 5 pints down on a Thursday night,” reports one rookie. With Thursday’s like that, we can’t wait for Friday night!

Each year the firm allocates its trainees a social budget to be spent at will. Previous undertakings include trampolining, escapology and food tasting experiences at quirky eateries. We’re told these are great ways to catch up with fellow trainees since the group is split across the firm’s five offices.

A dedicated sports and social committee also hosts events which in the past have included Christmas shopping trips and pizza and prosecco nights.

Burges Salmon

The social life at Bristol-headquartered Burges Salmon is positively pumping (by corporate law standards). “I’ve just been to an escape room experience and cider tasting and I’m heading off to our summer party/festival at the zoo tonight with wine tasting next week… next question?” boasts one lucky trainee.

“I can’t lie. We have great socials and events going on all the time,” chimes another. “Roll on the Burges Salmon festival tonight!” Oh, what we’d give to be a fly on the wall there!

Indeed, the firm has a wide social offering, starting with its very own social club, BSocial. When they’re not busy at their desks, trainees can look forward to discounted theatre and cinema tickets as well as events and weekend trips away. Wine and cheese tasting, cupcake decorating and even make-up tutorials were reportedly on the roster this year.

The more sports-minded lawyers are well catered for. There are football, hockey and running clubs, as well as Pilates, yoga and circuits classes available at the firm for rookies to get involved in.

With so much on offer you’d be forgiven for thinking Burges’ lot receive more RSVPs than work emails, but one lawyer shares a somewhat more solemn response: “It is what you want to make of it.”

Charles Russell Speechlys

The vibe over at Fleet Street outfit Charles Russell Speechlys is “pretty good” so we hear. “There are usually social events going on, firmwide and departmentally,” reports one insider, while another remarks: “Almost too many social events (if you get involved).”

These events take the form of summer and Christmas parties — the last two of which have been held at The Savoy. There’s a “Sports Dinner” and “department drinks” and “Friday nights at the local pubs” — several of which are in close proximity to the private client specialist.

It’s not all dinner and drinks, though. These rookies are a close-knit group (Charles Russell has a small intake of around 25 trainees) and one source says that they often “play tennis, go for runs” together. How amiable.

K&L Gates

The London office of US outfit K&L Gates is a lively one.

Located in the heart of the City, in One New Change, a towering glass and steel construction that overlooks St Paul’s Cathedral and the fancy restaurant and shopping complex below, it’s no wonder this firm has one of the best social scenes in legal London.

A small cohort of just 16 trainees means they’re pretty pally. “We generally go for Thursday/Friday night drinks and trainees and NQs frequently organise ad hoc socials,” explains one respondent. On a late night, you might catch some trainees mingling over a pint or two at the firm’s very own rooftop bar.

RPC

RPC’s lot are a social bunch. A relatively small London trainee intake of ten gives the training contract experience a personal touch. “I often socialise with trainees and more broadly,” responds one insider, while another says “the trainees are always socialising, with “a lot of intra-departmental events put on which tend to be popular.”

The activity extends to social media. The firm’s trainees get to tweet and post pics from completely uncensored Twitter and Instagram accounts — @LifeInALawFirm — which features an array of pics including partner/trainee table football showdowns and trips to ‘Swingers’ crazy golf, among others.

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

The scene seems to have survived the recent scrapping of the Hogwarts-style RPC “house system”, which saw trainees divided into separate groups. “We’re waiting to see whether full firm socials increase,” says one hopeful. But the signs at the moment are that it may even have benefitted from it, with RPC receiving its strongest ever score for social life in Legal Cheek‘s annual survey.

However, a busy social diary is all a bit much for one rookie: “I’m currently doing three to four socials a week with work. If anything it’s too much!”

Taylor Wessing

Top-rated for tech, Taylor Wessing is also a hub for social activity, or at least according to a handful of Legal Cheek spies.

One source tells us there are “lots of social events with different areas of the firm e.g. LGBTQ, the Arts Club, sports teams and regular socials for trainees.”

Taylor Wessing is indeed one of the City’s more ‘artsy’ law firms, having sponsored the National Portrait Gallery’s Photographic Portrait Prize for the 11th consecutive year. The Arts Club hosts regular lunchtime talks and offers free admission to all exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery.

It’s a scene that Taylor Wessing rookies are introduced to early in their careers, with future trainees reportedly receiving invites to the firm’s exclusive social shindigs.

Travers Smith

Travers Smith scored an impressive sweep of A*s in this year’s survey, including top marks for social life.

Location must have aided its score. The City law firm is situated in London’s EC1 area, allowing its lawyers to take full advantage of the wide array of nearby shops, restaurants, pubs and clubs after a hard day’s work. The Bishops Finger, for example, is a popular haunt among Travers lawyers and is a short walk from the firm’s Farringdon premises.

Bonds are further deepened through a recent office dress down policy in favour of a “business casual” approach and regular social events, including visits to Shakespeare’s Globe and “decathlon days out”.

Walker Morris

Another firm praised for its vibrant social life in our survey is Leeds’ Walker Morris. “We work hard and we really do play harder,” shares one Legal Cheek mole. Oo-er.

The A* social life at the firm has quite a reputation. “I have no doubt our social committee is the best around,” one trainee tells us, while another notes: “We’re very social and often organising a variety of events for either the whole firm, or within departments. Everyone is very friendly, so it is easy to get along and we enjoy spending time together outside of the office.”

Indeed, they do. The corporate player hosts charity events such as quizzes, rounders and dress down days. Plus we hear there’s “decent budgets behind the bars”. We’re pretty sure we’d spot trainees and associates bonding over after-work drinks at the many trendy bars just a stone’s throw away from the firm’s central location.

Wedlake Bell

Wedlake Bell’s lawyers have nothing but good to say about the firm’s social scene. Overall, feedback from respondents was very positive, with one rookie reporting: “I was surprised by how much socialising is encouraged by the firm. The social scene is very inclusive and there is something going on every week.”

The London player is tucked up nicely between Blackfriars and Cannon Street Tube stations on busy Queen Victoria Street. You’ll find a handful of juniors occasionally lunching together on the steps of nearby St Paul’s Cathedral, and as day turns to dusk, many will take to the plethora of City bars and pubs on the commercial outfit’s doorstep.

The firm with the best social life for trainees and junior lawyers will be announced at the Legal Cheek Awards 2019 on March 21 at the Cheesegrater in London.

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.

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

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub

48 Comments

Tallboy

Big surprise, people at b-grade firms have better social lives.

(44)(13)

Anonymous

Try just… better lives. Or even, lives.

(12)(2)

Anonymous

A pedobus???

Will some of these depraved lawyers stop at nothing??????

(3)(1)

Anonymous

Those females look like they’ve just stepped off it…

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Kirkland?

(2)(1)

Anonymous

CMS should be on this list.

(11)(1)

Anonymous

Because of..? (genuinely interested)

(8)(0)

Anonymous

Lots of teams at CMS, at least a year ago when I left, were fairly close knit. Post-work drinks are very common – I’m talking staying out until 2/3/4am and not just a stale 1 or 2 drinks down the local with people you secretly hate.

As a trainee it was good – there are a lot of trainees there (albeit number cut back) so there is always something going on. There are other things like the CMS World Cup that are good fun too.

The firm is otherwise a bit sh*t in many ways, and some teams can be a bit cliquey. I obviously left for a reason. But, social it certainly is.

(32)(0)

Anonymous

Fair enough, nice to have an honest assessment. Out of interest, why did you leave? (doing a vac scheme there in the summer)

(10)(0)

Anonymous

It all got a bit stale in terms of the work, and the pay, at a few years PQE. An opportunity came up elsewhere that appealed. Quite a few people move on at 2-5PQE for similar reasons. It is by no means a bad firm to train at though. Hope the vac scheme goes well – they recruit trainees heavily off of that (your chances are probably over 50%, subject to how you do on the scheme), so, best of luck.

(22)(1)

Anonymous

Thank you for the helpful and informative response. I was saying to Alex at a recent event that this site fill a gap in the market for trainees and junior lawyers. People like you taking the time to contribute from personal experience particularly reinforces this. Thanks again.

(16)(0)

Anonymous

You’re welcome

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Baffled as to why my response to this was deleted!

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Because CMS evidently havent bribed LC for content and so any positive stuff about them gets deleted. Absolute joke LC

(6)(1)

Anonymous

LMAOOOOOO

(2)(5)

Anonymous

“Thursday’s”.

No.

(19)(0)

JDP

We should be on the list, I socialise with my trainee all the time

(31)(1)

Kirkland Trainee

Metaphorical you say? Try again.

(0)(0)

anonymoose

Genuine question: do people really like to hang out with their coworkers?

I mean, sporadically it could be fairly pleasant, but done so constantly, I believe it would feel like such a cringefest.

Opinions on this? Maybe it’s a British thing?

(26)(3)

Anonymous

Agreed, would rather go home and see my other half for once! My old firm had a ‘work hard, play hard’ group of 20 somethings who would go out until 4 in the morning on random weekdays, then come in at 11 the next day and complain about workload. I found it quite sad actually as they also hung out together on weekends (I know I come across as the girl who was never invited and is bitter!).

(29)(1)

Anonymous

Funny how RPC always get a mention in a positive way. I wonder why. *cough* sponsorship *cough*

(11)(2)

Anonymous

Tame as f*ck

(2)(5)

Anonymous

Fake news.

Also, who gives a flying duck. If a law firm fills your social life as well as your work life, it becomes your whole life. Unhealthy. The more time available to spend with people who have nothing to do with work, the better.

(34)(0)

Anonymous

Or, bear with me here, some people who work at law firms are genuinely great people who you wish to spend time with out of office hours? Might be rare, but some places are collegiate.

Contrasted with the backstabbing, venomous parasites that you wouldn’t wish on your greatest enemies, let alone putting your social life near their sphere of existence.

(13)(1)

Anonymous

But that’s on your own schedule with the people you actually get on with and can separate from work in a social environment. What the article here discusses is ‘scheduled’ social events and (debatable) intrusion into the other side of your life (i.e. the non-social side). 2nd PQE here, and speaking from personal experience although it’s great to have work drinks every week as a trainee, by PQ you know who you want to speak to and who’s a tit, and do your own thing accordingly..

(19)(1)

Anonymous

100% this.

(3)(1)

Anonymous

The picture says it all..

(4)(0)

Anonymous

There’s a token black guy at least!

(9)(0)

Anonymous

This person is winning at life.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Newcastle uni law society by any chance?

(4)(0)

Partay Animal

I prefer to socialise with my real friends not work ones

(9)(1)

Anonymous

Ambitious LMCs who think being a lawyer is high status have no mates and want to socialise at work. Sad.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Trump?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Second to right is fiiiiiittttttttt!

(0)(1)

JDP

*sigh* here i go again

(2)(1)

The Youtube Star

Linklaters will be #1 after I start vlogging there

(12)(0)

Anonymous

I think you’re really cute. Want to f*ck?

(3)(1)

Anonymous

Hmm… given you’re probably illegal… I’ll go for a “no” on this occasion…

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Why would you think I am illegal? Illegal as in an illegal immigrant, or illegal as in underage? Or just illegal like a new ivory piano? I’ll anger f*ck you at this rate (not rape, consensual anger f*ck)

(1)(1)

Anonymous

The firm with the ‘best social life’ is ultimately the firm which lets you leave the earliest. Nothing worse than spending your evening at some awful organised event, chatting to the partner who ruins your life all day for a full evening.

Your social life should be detached as much as possible from work. I have friends who I work with, but they’re friends despite this, not because of it.

(12)(0)

Anonymous

So glad I joined the Bar.

You don’t even have to see your colleagues, let alone pretend you like them socially.

(7)(0)

Real Counsel

Shut up and keep revising for your legal method MCQ…

Plebs like you don’t “join the Bar”

(2)(0)

Anonymous

As part of the exclusive survey, respondents were asked to rank their firm’s social life on a one to ten sliding scale, with one being ‘Assange’ and the top score of ten defined as, ‘Kardashian’.

Are you sure that they didn’t get the two mixed up? Lots of 1s…

(1)(0)

Anonymous

At most firms you are lucky to find a couple of people who a friends with you outside of the office.

There are others who are ok/tolerable with some general chat for a few hours.

Then there are the twats.

It’s sad when people spend their time tied to work either through being in the office or most of their special life revolves around colleagues.

(2)(0)

Sally from Accounts

I bet that black brother on the photo has one mighty anaconda hidden behind his fly. Delicious

(4)(1)

OJ

Once black… Never back…

(3)(0)

Rick from Finance

Sally, we need to have another word. You can’t say that sh*t in public.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Confirmed. I have seen it.

(2)(0)

Comments are closed.

Related Stories