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Revealed: The best law firms for peer support and partner approachability 2020-21

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Legal Cheek’s exclusive survey identifies firms with best culture

In these uncertain times, working with supportive peers and approachable partners can make all the difference. For the many trainees and junior lawyers working from home this has never been more true.

As part of Legal Cheek’s annual Trainee and Junior lawyer survey, we asked 2,000 rookies from nearly 100 firms across the UK to rank their firm’s peer supportiveness on a sliding scale from one to ten, with one being ‘not at all supportive’ and ten defined as ‘very supportive’. Respondents were then asked to score the partners they work with for their approachability — with one classed as ‘not at all approachable’ and ten as ‘very approachable’.

We’ve produced a shortlist featuring the firms that scored A*s for peer support and partner approachability. Just four firms made the cut in both categories: Bristows, Mills & Reeve, Squire Patton Boggs and Womble Bond Dickinson. Below are the results listed alphabetically:

Best law firms for peer support 2020-21

Addleshaw Goddard
Baker McKenzie
Bird & Bird
Bristows
Burges Salmon
Dentons
Herbert Smith Freehills
Hogan Lovells
Mills & Reeve
RPC
Squire Patton Boggs
Taylor Wessing
Travers Smith
Withers
Womble Bond Dickinson

The 2021 Firms Most List – featuring the Legal Cheek Survey results in full

Best law firms for partner approachability 2020-21

Accutrainee
Bristows
CMS
Clyde & Co
Eversheds Sutherland
Fletchers
Gowling WLG
Hill Dickinson
Mills & Reeve
Pinsent Masons
Reed Smith
Shoosmiths
Squire Patton Boggs
TLT
Vinson & Elkins
Wiggin
Womble Bond Dickinson

As part of the survey, we give trainees and junior lawyers the opportunity to expand on their scores and comment (anonymously) on the supportiveness of their peers and approachability of their superiors. Here are a select few comments from some of the firms listed above:

How supportive are your peers?

“They seem to hire genuinely nice trainees – there’s no competition or infighting.”

“Everyone around you genuinely cares about you and would champion you and your voice if you ever felt unable to.”

“Small intakes means that there’s a very tight community of trainees – almost everyone knows everyone. Plenty of social events to build your internal network.”

“Peers within the team, the trainee cohort, the broader department and business services are all very supportive. They understand what it’s like to be a trainee and are very helpful in giving instructions, assisting and providing feedback.”

“The trainee cohort are all quite tight which reduces the competitive attitude between each other. NQ’s and junior associates are keen to see you succeed if you are putting in the effort. For example, if you have been a particular help to a junior, they are likely to tell the partner this rather than take all of the credit.”

How approachable are your superiors?

“All very approachable, friendly and understanding if you find yourself taking more time to do something that you had planned and needed a bit of an extension! Keen to get you involved in interesting matters and talk to you about the history of a file rather than just asking you to read it.”

“I have found that all my superiors are approachable and will try to make time for you as much as they can, irrelevant of their status at the firm or how busy they are with other matters. I have genuinely enjoyed working with my supervisors on a personal level and I have never felt that a question is silly to ask.”

“Open-door policy that partners adhere to make it easy to approach them and a build a rapport with them, which has continued whilst working from home (via telephone calls).”

“I work with some of the best partners in the firm – top of their game, exceptionally intelligent, but also very down-to-earth. It makes working for them a delight.”

The winning law firm in each category will be announced at The Legal Cheek Awards 2021, sponsored by BARBRI, on Thursday 25 March 2021.

The 2021 Firms Most List – featuring the Legal Cheek Survey results in full

10 Comments

Curious

Would be interesting to know the worst for partner approachability

Peter pan

No offence but Just going off the picture an all white cast makes doesn’t equate to great peer support – slight unconscious bias here.

Anonymous

Really, Peter? Let’s say the photo was taken in York. 94% of the population there identifies as White British. So the photo is representative. Having even 1 BAME participant would mean 4 times over-representation of minorities. We are getting sick of the efforts to push American extremist race agendas in this country.

Peter Pan

Lets say the photo wasn’t taken in York, but was taken in London where the majority of city firms are based (i.e. the ones covered in this article) then the photo really isn’t representative. You (plural – don’t know who you are speaking on behalf of) “are getting sick of efforts to push American race agendas in this country” – based on the microaggression in your comment (i.e. assuming the photo would be based in a white majority area, therefore invalidating any comment about representation) it appears that you are uncomfortable talking about race or anyone suggesting that there is an issue, as you havn’t been discriminated against or experienced it so it might as well just be a US only problem and marginalising any discussion on this is your (plural) way of coping. Assuming you’ve never stepped foot in a top city of London law firm, if you ever get the chance keep an eye out as to how many people there are from different backgrounds, you’ll be surprised.

Anonymous

Nice false assumption at the end. Less a micro-aggression on your part, more a full on attempt to claim superior knowledge to cancel someone’s views when the foundational assumption is wrong. But that what we expect from the diversity warriors. Nationally, the UK is 87% white. Sorry, the photo is still perfectly representative, and foisting quotas everywhere is mindless. There is no evidence of material levels of race discrimination in the legal profession and all this bleating off the back of BLM has to be called out at some point. Disparities can be explained much better by socio-economic discrimination. But you can’t moan about those from poorer homes not appearing in photos can you? (Though the chap on the far left does have a dodgy shirt tie combination).

Jarrod

We are at the point of needing quotas because of bigots like you. More must be done and quickly.

A

What must be done about what? A huge problem is people like Jarrod who just resort to calling everyone who does not agree with them as bigots.

Teera Baap

Jarod isn’t calling everyone who doesn’t agree with him a bigot merely those that are so uncomfortable discussing race they have to marginalise and in your case deny there is a “material issue”. Calling out BLM behind a keyboard makes you sound like the cyber love child of Nigel Farrage and Nick Griffin, there are issues in the profession the SRA itself acknowledges it – check out their 2017 report.

Stockholm

If they don’t throw stationary you, are they even being supportive?

Helsinki

Did you recover from the flying biro?

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