Analysis

Revealed: The law firms with the best perks 2020

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Junior lawyers are a pretty pampered bunch but which firms offer the perkiest of perks?

It’s well-established that a career in corporate law comes with considerable perks.

From swell salaries that can stretch to six figures, freebie tickets to glamorous events, private medical care, dinner allowances and even a swimming pool — junior lawyers are a pretty pampered bunch but which firms offer the perkiest of perks?

We put the question ‘How good are your firm’s perks?’ to over 2,000 trainees and junior associates at the country’s leading corporate law firms, as part of this year’s Legal Cheek survey. Respondents then rated their places of work on a perk-o-meter ranging from one to ten — with one defined as ‘Austerity’, and ten as ‘Magic Money Tree’.

We’ve crunched the numbers and eleven firms have been commended for their exquisite perquisites. Here is the shortlist, listed alphabetically, for the best corporate law firm perks 2019-20:

Allen & Overy
Clifford Chance
Dechert
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Hogan Lovells
Kirkland & Ellis
Linklaters
Shearman & Sterling
Skadden
Weil Gotshal & Manges
White & Case

It’s quite telling that four out of five of the magic circle feature in the above list. Clifford Chance’s signature perk is, of course, its very own swimming pool with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Canary Wharf, while Freshies splashed the cash this summer with a game-changing £100,000 plus bonus for its newbie qualifiers — the highest NQ salary of any of the elite fivesome. The roof terraces (there are three) at A&O’s London office win rave reviews, as does the free gym, canteen (Silks) and on-site healthcare over at Links, as rookie Eve Cornwell recently showed us in one of her vlogs.

Hogan Lovells, with its fitness centre and free ‘arts pass’, is the only other UK-headquartered firm to feature on the list. The rest are the London offices of US-headquartered firms, known for their mega moneylaw salaries. The perks at Kirkland are plentiful: solicitors here rake in dollar-pegged salaries that hit the £150,000 mark (the joint highest salary in the UK, according to our Firms Most List) and have access to a fancy concierge service in one of the City’s ‘most Instagrammable’ skyscrapers, the Gherkin. The cookies, and more importantly, the £30 Deliveroo allowance (one of the City’s most generous, apparently) at Shearman & Sterling goes down a treat, while the wood-decked furniture at Skadden and wellness vouchers and guaranteed international secondment abroad at White & Case, also received a favourable mention.

The 2020 Firms Most List – featuring the Legal Cheek Survey results in full

But hear from the rookies themselves. As part of this year’s survey we received hundreds of anonymous comments from junior lawyers about the perks they receive. Here are a select few from some of the firms listed above:

How good are your firm’s perks?

“Topnotch. Pool is great and really good for my mental health — I use it once a week (contrary to the rumours). Gym recently refurbished, swanky spinning classes, squash courts, cheap dry cleaning and shoe polishing on site. Free dinner after 7pm which includes a daily live pasta chef, steak, burgers, grilled food and a huge salad bar. Cab home after 10pm which makes it easier to work later without having to worry about getting home.”

“$$$”

“Think 24-hour free concierge service to book your concert tickets and holidays, £25 for dinner every night (with dedicated runners to bring it from the ground floor to your desk), black cabs home after 9.30pm plus closing dinners, introductory lunches at the start of every seat, blow-out Christmas and summer parties…”

“We have a piano stashed away in the basement which is an amazing thing to de-stress with when you have a spare 15-30 minutes.”

“Excellent range of well-funded sports teams. We get ‘sports leave’ specifically to use on sports tours and team ski trips. Ice-creams in the summer.”

“We regularly get offered free tickets to football games, rugby matches, cricket and gigs at the O2. When the trainees reached out to our events team and asked if we could use our box at the O2 one night for a trainee social to go watch Drake, they were immediately onboard. I have also used VIP passes to the V&A (to cut all the queues or the need to book) and VIP passes to the Royal Academy.”

The canteen has really improved and the food (particularly the Pad Thai bar and the Pasta bar) are really yum. We also love going down for scrambled eggs and salmon at breakfast. The gym is second to none — I forget it is an office gym as it’s so fully-functioning. The four free private GP appts a year are surprisingly helpful and I also really like the massage facilities.

“Closing lunch in Paris, group retreat to Cannes, cricket tour to Corfu to name but a few.”

“On-site gym with free classes and discounted personal training sessions, healthcare benefits, beauty treatments. Two rooftop terraces with BBQs in the summer. On-site canteen is great. Trainee mobile phones are very basic though, and we don’t get laptops (so I have had to use my personal laptop for work on the weekends). I think we are spoiled but don’t realise it though.”

The winning law firm will be announced at the Legal Cheek Awards 2020, held at Sea Containers House, the swish riverside building located on London’s South Bank, on Thursday 26 March.

The 2020 Firms Most List – featuring the Legal Cheek Survey results in full

39 Comments

Akin Gump 1PQE

Lol. Imagine passing up £30,000 – £50,000 in pre-tax earnings at a US firm just to get free Deliveroo/lunch at a Magic Circle firm.

(45)(10)

Truth

Imagine pretending to be employed at a shit firm.

(21)(3)

Akin Gump 1PQE

One of the best firms in the world…

(3)(17)

Truth

Mumbling that at the mirror every morning doesn’t make it real.

(31)(2)

Akin Gump 1PQE

Akin Gump is, without question, a global elite and super profitable law firm.

Partner & Realist

“£25 for dinner every night (with dedicated runners to bring it from the ground floor to your desk), black cabs home after 9.30pm plus closing dinners, introductory lunches at the start of every seat, blow-out Christmas and summer parties…”

Some people know the price of everything and the value of nothing. A desk monkey, in a sparkling gilded cage, who has no furniture in the empty apartment they never visit…whose family assume they are dead and whose friends have long since moved on is still a desk monkey. Albeit a rich one.

(97)(3)

Truth

How’s the cleaning going?

(4)(15)

Burgess Sea Bass

Isn’t that the point though? Qualify, slog it out for 3-5 years earning a small fortune. Buy your first property with a minimal or no mortgage. Then take a 30-40% pay cut to become a worshiped senior associate at a national firm.

(21)(7)

Anon

That’s why I want to go for the Bar

(0)(0)

Realist lawyer

For the millionth time, all aspiring lawyers, please be careful about the tripe LC is putting out there. Being able to charge your client for your deliveroo because you’re so busy you can’t leave work isn’t a “perk”. Neither is sucking up to some awful client at some concert or sports event. It’s really not like hanging out with your mates, trust me. There’s never been a law firm that does anything that’s not in its own interest to keep clients happy, or reduce your excuses to leave for the day (see also gym or pool in the office).

(144)(2)

Anon

This may be true – but it’s par for the course in BigLaw. You want to go and work outside of London? You’ll work 09:00 to 19:00-21:00 daily with some peaks and troughs, be paid a fraction of a BigLaw firm and not have the facilities, exit opportunities, etc.

Not about LC per say (although LC does publish a lot of tripe e.g. Eve Cornwell and the Most Lists are wildly inaccurate) but about law generally – it requires resilience.

(23)(2)

In House

I do work outside of London, and it is nothing like you describe or imagine.

The hours are not as long as you believe them to be (approx. 45 hrs per week), the salary is generous, I do not need the facilities as I have the flexibility to enjoy those things in my own time (i.e. going to the gym, socialising with actual friends, not colleagues) and as it stands I don’t really need an exit opportunity as I enjoy what I’m doing.

People (particularly students) need to realise that there are options outside of the top 10 law firms, and that there is more to life than being a “desk monkey, in a sparkling gilded cage” as Partner & Realist brilliantly puts above.

(51)(1)

Anon

In house though? You’re not comparing like for like.

(5)(0)

In House

Agreed – However, I do (genuinely) work in a senior legal position, and work with a number of BigLaw firms on a frequent basis so would like to think I have some kind of understanding of how things are.

Also, just because I am in house now, doesn’t mean I always have been.

Truth

“Generous” + “In house” with not long hours, choose one.

You’re still a desk money in a rusty cage.

(7)(10)

In House

Unfortunately, Truth, you suggest further below that you work for Kirkland (“I’ll be sure to let the concierge team know”) – Therefore, it is highly unlikely that a) you are actually employed, and b) you have finished the first year of your LLB.

Nice try though…

Partner & Realist

In house, I’d like to have a chat. The exchanges here are amusing but our respective positions have got me wondering, whether we cant deploy LC for something useful and connect, particularly seeing which firms you work with and whether we might collaborate

Unsure how to do this though without revealing my details. Any thoughts?

(6)(1)

It's Santa fam

All city lawyers get pretty much the same perks i.e. free dinner after 8-8.30, free rides home, gyms or subscriptions to nearby gyms, nice offices, etc. This list seems a bit redundant… The only exception for me would be Kirkland’s concierge service, and for god sake with cc’s pool, it’s now as if any trainees or associates could even swim there so how are they voting it as a perk?

(21)(1)

Truth

Maybe you should get a better hobby. Scrolling profusely through Legalcheek’s most list isn’t healthy buddy. Glad Kirkland’s concierge service stands out to you though, I’ll be sure to let the concierge team know.

(4)(9)

It's Santa you melon

I can’t make any sense from your comment, there is no list these are just the common perks for any firm, it’s just common knowledge, and Kirkland’s concierge team is the only perk standing out from the usual ones that’s worth mentioning… How complicated was this for you to fathom?

(4)(0)

Question to Santa

Do you feel good pining over perks at firms you’ll never get into?

(0)(2)

Santa says sit down

Considering I’m already in, I think I’ll be fine my dear simpleton

mc

Trainees and associates can and do swim in CC’s pool.

I don’t swim there, as I hate swimming and can’t think of anything worse than sitting with my flabby body looking at my colleagues flabby bodies.

(27)(0)

Wholemeal

Quite right. Best to just order another deliveroo and eat it at your desk, wouldn’t want to risk losing a calorie or raising your self esteem and body image.

(4)(4)

White Shoe NQ

Anything for those millennials I guess

(2)(2)

MC

If you work in the regions, the salary is far from generous. I moved from an international firm in the regions to magic circle, my total compensation has more than doubled. My hours granted have lifted from around 1500 billable to 2200 billable, with average finish times of 9pm rather than 7pm. Getting home at 730pm doesn’t give you that much free time on a weekday evening though and my weekends are still generally my own.

(6)(0)

Disgruntled.

And here I thought I was special with instant coffee available in the kitchen. Must not have had 2020 vision when applying for the job.

(7)(1)

Anonymous

HD Liv?

(1)(1)

A non-knee mousse

No firm that respects their employees should have that shit in the kitchen.

(0)(0)

Wanna go Cannes pls

“Closing lunch in Paris, group retreat to Cannes, cricket tour to Corfu to name but a few.”

Sounds like the best perk to me, would much rather a short trip all paid for than a Deliveroo or pool.

(5)(0)

A A

Gives you something to think about when you’re still in the office at 2 am, I guess.

(1)(1)

Ha!

The bar laughs at you.

(1)(0)

Anon

So many salty comments

(4)(0)

Wannabe probably never gunnabe barrister

The Bar trumps all of these firms. It’s a shame it’s such a closed minded profession.

(2)(3)

Student

TC offers from A&O and CC. Which one should I take? I wanted to train at a US firm…

(1)(3)

Elle Woods, LLB Oxford University

Clifford Chance

(1)(0)

Robert Downey Jr.

Willkie Farr have a pretty damn impressive new kitchen area in Citypoint, nice 180ish degrees of window and views that shame NRF

(8)(4)

Anons

Lmao f*ck off mate

(1)(4)

Anon

It’s so very easy to fall into the “I am special because I’m a lawyer” trap. Your firm will throw free stuff at you such as tickets to concerts or sporting events, and weekend breaks to resorts. However, nothing is really free. In exchange you give up your time to hang out with clients and work associates. I always thought that only losers say that their best friends are their fellow trainees or associates at their firm.

(2)(0)

Comments are closed.

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