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Do lawyers really start work later than other people?

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It depends…

“[L]awyers don’t start work until earliest 9:30!” tweeted magic circle trainee and vlogger Eve Cornwell yesterday, after one of her followers expressed surprise at her ‘lawyer morning routine’ video.

Is Cornwell right? Well, basically, yes — for lawyers at City of London law firms, but it can be a different story outside corporate law and outside London. And our figures show lawyers at Cornwell’s firm, Linklaters, arriving on average at 9:12am (although figures vary between departments and Cornwell seems to be working in one of the later arriving teams at the moment).

The 2020 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

According to this year’s Legal Cheek’s annual survey of average arrive and leave the office times, the lawyers who enjoy the longest lie-ins can be found at the London offices of US firms. Solicitors at Sullivan & Cromwell clock in on average at a leisurely 9:41am each morning (and leave on average at 8:35pm), with Debevoise & Plimpton’s and Cleary Gottlieb’s UK lawyers rocking up next latest (both arrive at 9:38am on average), followed by those at Paul Hastings (9:36am), Latham & Watkins (9:33am), Ropes & Gray (9:28am) and Kirkland & Ellis (9:28am).

This can partly be explained by the long hours culture (and incredible pay!) at many US firms, but also by the fact that New York (where these firms are usually headquartered) is five hours behind London and often require support later in the day from UK colleagues.

The UK-headquartered firm with the latest arrival time is Allen & Overy (9:25am), the magic circle rival to Cornwell’s firm, Linklaters.

At the other end of the spectrum, lawyers at Fletchers, DAC Beachcroft and Bevan Brittan (firms all predominantly based outside London) arrive earliest, start work at 8:20am, 8:25am and 8:30am respectively.

You can view the full list of firms’ average arrive and leave time on our Firms Most List — click through and then search ‘Earliest arrival time’ or ‘Latest leave time’.

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