Analysis

The law firms with the swankiest offices in the UK

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47

Cue major office envy

From fanciful artwork to plush client lounges, the ‘Gherkin’ to the ‘Walkie Talkie’ — some corporate law firms are housed in glass and steel splendours so spectacular it’s easy to mistake them for luxury hotels or exclusive cocktail bars.

Rookies spend a considerable chunk of their day (and sometimes night!) toiling away in these buildings — but do they beget gloom or spark joy? We put the question ‘How functional, comfortable and impressive is your workplace?’ to over 2,000 trainees and junior associates at nearly 100 of 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 sliding scale from one to ten.

Eleven law firm offices towered over and above the rest. Here is the shortlist, listed alphabetically, for the swankiest UK law firm office of 2020. We also received hundreds of anonymous comments from junior lawyers about their digs, with comments varying from “could do with a bit of a reno” to “my chair sings me a lullaby”. You’ll find a select few of these below.

Ashurst

Credit: Ashurst (Instagram)

Ashurst recently relocated to London’s Fruit and Wool Exchange, a historical landmark opposite Spitalfields Market. Rookies rave about the “adjustable desks”, “impressive artwork” and increased provision of “portable IT equipment”. Plus there’s a lot more breakout space and collaborative areas to work, we’re told.

Burges Salmon

Credit: Burges Salmon

It’s a thumbs-up from rookies at Burges Salmon‘s Bristol base: “Bright, airy and reflective of the firm’s collaborative approach,” chimes one happy rookie.

Clifford Chance

Credit: Clifford Chance

“My sister felt like she was in Suits when she was visiting”, pretty much tells you all you need to know about Clifford Chance‘s ultra glam and “impressive” Canary Wharf headquarters — one of only a handful of law firms in the banking-dominated E14 postcode. And the office block boasts its very own pool!

Gowling WLG

Credit: Gowling WLG

Our moles tell us the views over at Gowling WLG‘s London office are “fantastic”. The eighth floor apparently offers some of the best, with London’s South Bank, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge all in sight.

Kirkland & Ellis

Not many people can say they work at the ‘Gherkin’ — the City’s ‘most Instagrammable’ building, apparently. But Kirkland & Ellis lawyers can. Their digs are spread across six floors in Sir Norman Foster’s triangular glass masterpiece, nicknamed after the pickle for its cylindrical shape. “It’s pretty cool,” one junior puts it mildly.

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

Norton Rose Fulbright

You’ll find Norton Rose Fulbright‘s London headquarters located by The Thames in More London Riverside. It’s a “light, modern and sleek building”, describes one of our spies, but brace yourselves because there are plans to go open plan pretty soon. The firm’s client floor, located on the ninth floor, is where it’s at, apparently, with a roof terrace overlooking the City skyline.

Reed Smith

Designated backdrop for a number of blockbusters, including James Bond action thriller Skyfall (and, erm, a McDonalds TV advert) is Reed Smith‘s tapering Broadgate Tower base. “I literally screamed when I saw our lobby in ‘Good Omens’,” squeals one excitable trainee. “I take great pride in our lovely tower.” But things are starting to get a little cramped and cosy in the 35-storey building we’re told now that a few of the firms’ floors have been vacated.

Ropes & Gray

This 60 Ludgate Hill development boasts 5* boutique hotel levels of luxury with homely touches. “The office is modern, bright and airy and the location is really great as well. I quite like the offices — they are comfortable and people sit two to a room, so there’s always company to be had,” says one trainee.

Taylor Wessing

Trainees at Taylor Wessing gush about the “amazing artwork” adorning the walls of the firm’s lobby. This is, perhaps, unsurprising given the outfit’s high-profile sponsorship of the National Portrait Gallery Photographic Prize. But the jewel in the crown is the ninth-floor roof terrace, with panoramic views stretching across legal London, and used in the summer for the occasional shindig (as one trainee puts it).

Vinson & Elkins

Vinson & Elkins‘ London gaffe is “very fancy in the ‘Walkie Talkie’ with Warhol prints on the walls and lots of white marble”. Oof! Plus it’s only a few floors down from SkyGarden, London’s highest public garden. Cue major office envy.

Weil Gotshal & Manges

Weil Gotshal & Manges enthuse about the firm’s very convenient location on Fetter Lane and excellent, hands-on facilities team. “Can’t complain — IT will give you mostly anything you ask for (standing desk, fancy new screens, ergonomic keyboards etc.),” says one insider. And the office itself is very slick, boasting a pretty great terrace upstairs for those rare days of good weather.

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

47 Comments

anonymous

I’ve never set foot in the building but have heard great things about Mischon’s office.

Mr Brightside

The same sentence refers to the Gherkin as being both triangular and cylindrical?

David

Triangular glass, perhaps?

Ex K&E Associate

The windows are all (bar one pane at the top) triangular and flat, the effect is a a curved ergonomic appearance.

Leatherpop

And Vinson & Elkins share the block with DWF! I bet Vinsons are itching to rebrand as Vinsons and DWFkins when the merger goes through!

Anonymous

LOL a reputable American law firm with a prestigious global projects/oil & gas practice merge with high-volume/low-value insurance claims handling factory like DWF?

Screams “synergy”.

DWFmadafakas

“SY-ENERGYYYYYYYY”

Megxit

Their splendour truly reflects the good they do in this world

Anonymous

Great work, Aishah! Please do tour of the Legal Cheek office. Is it still in the Shard?

Duncan Lewis

Pity, Duncan Lewis (Hackney) is absent from this list.

Anon

What about the award winning Cannon Place, 78 Cannon Street?

Anonymous

Do you mean CMS’s offices? Been there a few years ago for a recruitment event – the main building reception in the central atrium is sort of swanky looking. The CMS reception to the side of it looks like a blend between futuristic Ikea and a modern airport premier lounge. It actually looks sort of cheap as a result, although I’m sure it wasn’t.

The work spaces is just pure open-plan hell, and if you draw the short straw on desk allocation you will be miles away from natural light source.

CMS 4th Seat Trainee

LOL yeah maybe for you, mate. If you’ve got a spot on millionaire’s row in the corporate team you’re allll good buddy.

Anonymous

Yup those mergers of two newsagents in Wigan really make it rain.

Anon

I went to Ropes’ offices for a signing once and thought they were grim. Floor reminds me of a primary school hall.

Seen the walkie

Dwf’s offices are the 30th and 31st floor of the walkie talkie. Their client suite (complete with wine coolers, sofas and work stations) is like an airport business class lounge. The main work floor is all open plan though which makes sense with real estate that expensive but – yeesh- not my cup of tea.

DWF trainee

They also practice “hot-desking” which means you can never find a spot in the mornings as they have more staff than desks so you end up sitting in a completely different section to your practice area.

Joe Smith

DWF is based on floors 31 and 32

Ricky

Why doesn’t firms like White & Case relocate to a bigger office? I went for an open day & it’s tiny! They’re in the top 3 biggest US firms in London, surely more space and a nicer looking environment is on the list?

Grammar police

“Why doesn’t firms” ?

I’m sure W&C will listen to you with that grammar, Ricky

Ricky

Fuck off

Realist

I suspect that White and Case have expanded faster than they expected to. They’re one of the largest US firms in London, if not the largest, and have grown at a rapid rate over the last decade.

RPC Associate

RPC don’t even have microwaves. Or fridges.

Lorna

They’re lawyers. They order sushi.

Anons

Why do you keep flogging Ropes’ office LC? It’s f*cking bland and unremarkable, even when compared to the likes of Weil or Ashurst.

Wondering where Kirkland NQ is @

?

Mumma xoxoxo

He finally turned up for his shift at the local McDonald’s in Romford. Wait for his shift to finish mate.

Kirkland NQ

Kirkland share the Gherkin with a 10-storey garage for everybody’s lambos

Reader

Isn’t it about time for that tard to start talking about Oxbridge now?

Oxbridge tard

What is there left to say that hasn’t already been said. Oxbridge graduates are intellectually superior by nature, there is no way to dispute this. They are cleverer, smarter, brighter and more clever than anyone else. They are the elite, the best of the best.

Assoc

Where is AO?

Penisz

rofl AO’s offices look dated and shet

Realist

I agree, I have attended several events and meetings at A&O’s offices, and I think they have one of the best offices in London. I particularly like (a) it’s modern, light and has lots of space; (b) the briefing facilities are superb; and (c) it’s next to Spitalfields Market.

Linklaters and Freshfields, by contrast, feel dowdy and dated. I’ve not been to CC, so can’t comment on them.

Bob

Freshfields moving into 100 Bishopsgate, a brand new skyscraper slap bang in the City later this year. Occupying floors 20-32.

But tbh I’ll be impressed if it beats CC

Bill

You missed the new Paul Hastings office at 100 Bishopsgate

Coq

Absolut toppp

Bob

Same as Freshies, but I think PH nabbed the penthouse floors 😉

Also the building isn’t finished yet!

Anon

“It’s a thumbs-up from rookies at Burges Salmon‘s Bristol base: “Bright, airy and reflective of the firm’s collaborative approach,” chimes one happy rookie.”

LOL, even a Siberian gulag is more fun than that Bristolian pit mine

tips@legalcheek.com

How the fuck are Ropes and Weil on that list

Both of them have the most drab, boring, uninteresting offices in the history of the planet. Pretty much exactly what you’d expect to turn up when you google ‘generic office environment’

Also you missed out A&O, shame on u x

US firm trainee

I hear that Latham’s new office will be spectacular

Joe-always-knows-last

Are they moving out of 99 bisschopsgate?

Big biller

There are rumours yes

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