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’.



Good WLB at DACB



Five years ago or outside London, perhaps. Not true at all since the push to become a “real” city firm kicked in. And now salaries/WLB are way out of balance.



This is complete nonsense. I started work at 02:30 this morning when my Blackberry went off. Fired off a few emails, smashed a quick PE deal and then went to bed, before turning up to the office about 10:15.


Kirkland NQ

I too smashed a few PE deals today, before hopping back into bed to smash my model girlfriednd.


Farrer & Co NQ




How about you get back to smashing more applications and maybe moving out of your parent’s spare closet?


Kirkland NQ

Lol whatever keyboard warrior. Say that to my chiselled face, and you’d get a taekwodo kick to the chops.



Your greatest achievement in life is being a legal cheek comment troll.

Sadly, you’re your parent’s biggest disappointment.


Aren’t you 1PQE by now?


Yeah… as if Eve, a first year trainee, would know what ”lawyers” across the profession do.



I mean…she’s not wrong


MC trainee scoffing down lunch

…and the reason they start later is because they have to face a miserable commute and finish so late. Again, something being disguised as a ”perk” which isn’t.


Gossip Girl

Haaaa am sure Cornwell’s team are gonna love being described as a “later arriving team” to the whole world as a result of her sanctimonious social media pontification.

Please, if you work at Links and have come across her, let us know here how hated she is. Just waiting for the stories to come out …



Curious, what has she done to you?



Demeaned my profession.



I’d like to see the same energy you put here maintained at people that are actually demeaning the profession (people abusing positions of authority, involved in sexual misconduct, etc).

However, given that you’re specifically referring to ‘your’ profession, I would have felt the same as you. Seeing someone be successful (albeit obnoxiously promoted) and not a giant ass hole, would really hurt on some deep psychological level as an unsuccessful, unhappy aspiring solicitor.



I’m quite happy with 9-5 in a large law firm in the north west.
Always arrive earlier than 9am. Leave dead on 5pm. Home by 5:30pm.
I have a life outside and not all in one building.
Very relaxed but professional atmosphere and work with some award winning solicitors and partners.
Rather get up early and be home earlier than work nearly 10 hours and unable to do anything once I’m home other then sleep. Even for the money!



I have always been amused by London solicitors both working long hours and starting so late in the day. Where does the custom originate?



If you work late, you are tired in the morning, so you get up late, and start late, and so are more likely to finish late. Brutal cycle …

The other thing is clients often don’t get active until the afternoon. I have plenty of days where I spent the morning twiddling my thumbs then something comes in at 2pm and I am in the office until midnight.



This starting work and finishing work data is BS at US firms. I start work as soon as I wake up and finish as I’m going to bed. My day starts at 8am and finishes 11pm. I get into the office at about 10.30am and can leave at 5.30pm if I need to but it just means that I have to finish off any essential tasks for that day at home rather than the office.



I’m in at 6.45am most mornings! I leave at 4pm so it works well for me, but some of my colleagues roll in at 10am. Each to their own!



Not quite sure why people think we start later. I haven’t started work for a year now. Or to be more clear, I haven’t left work yet.

My eyes have begun adapted to the twilight glow of office lighting.


Legal Legend

Can we get some ACTUAL legal coverage? I mean, please turn social media notifications *off* We don’t really need to know every time Eve pops down to the pick ‘n mix. If that’s your thing, then by all means do continue keeping tabs on her but for our sake, please don’t do so under the guise of journalism with this useless drivel.

Actual legal news:


Smashing it

This is a pointless and meaningless article. In city law there is no real start and end time. If something needs to be done you do it. You might physically get into the office at 10am but you’ve probably been reading/sending emails since you woke up. You might leave the office at 6pm and then work at home or go out for dinner and be responsive on emails/dial into a call. What time somebody gets in or leaves has no bearing on how much they work and the best firms to work at fully understand this. Nothing worse than putting in facetime or sitting bored at the desk just to look busy in front of your colleagues. I work at a US firm and iv never stayed in the office later than 5pm on a Friday and I often pop in and out to do my own thing.


Tom Meagher

For me, it actually depends how good the surf is that morning : ) #worktolive


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