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Ropes & Gray set to ditch 5-day in-office week for UK associates

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US player latest to adopt more flexible approach to lawyering

US outfit Ropes & Gray has become the latest law firm to layout its post-pandemic approach to lawyering, telling its associates, including those in London, they will no longer be expected to be in the office five days a week.

The firm recently unveiled a three phase approach that will initially see lawyers return to the office on an “entirely optional” basis. It then hopes lawyers will begin to come into the office more often from September. For the final phase, Ropes hopes to see a more “regular rhythm to office life”, with lawyers spending around three days a week at their desks.

But here’s the key bit. “No matter what phase we are in, we endorse flexibility post-pandemic”, the firm’s top brass told lawyers in a memo published by the website AboveTheLaw. “We don’t expect that we’ll ever mandate a five-day a week in-office environment”.

The flexi-working plans apply to lawyers in the firm’s London office too, a spokesperson for Ropes told Legal Cheek.

The 2021 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

A whole raft of firms have now gone public with new hybrid work polices.

Freshfields, Linklaters and Clifford Chance all recently gave the go-ahead for their lawyers and staff to work away from the office for up to 50% of the time, while Allen & Overy predicts staff will work remotely for around 40% of the working week once the pandemic is over.

Other firms to take a more flexible approach to life as a lawyer post-pandemic include Norton Rose Fulbright, Taylor Wessing, Herbert Smith Freehills and Squire Patton Boggs.

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52 Comments

Anonymous

Yawn, who cares? CMS has more personality than this firm, and that’s saying something given that the former is filled with tax lawyers.

(11)(21)

Kirkland Equity Partner/Emperor of the City

WFH is for wimps.

The ‘competition’ just keeps making it easier for us PE/Lev Fin. titans at Kirks. Can’t wait to be creaming in yet more millions as we carry on as the ultimate market destroyers 💸

That’s all for now. If anyone needs me I’ll be cruising Berkeley Square in my new Chiron

(56)(15)

You are dull

At the starting salaries at K/E, if every penny of post-tax income was used, it would only take 26 years to buy a Chiron. Still, must be nice to work all those late nights and weekends to make other people rich.

You earn peanuts. It might be more peanuts that other peanut earners, but it is still peanuts.

(42)(29)

Actual City Associate

😴😴😴Sounds like someone’s still salty from an open day rejection. Best return to your breach of duty revision fresher

(44)(4)

Good Game

Let’s be clear, all of these ‘Kirkland’ guys (as funny as some of them are) are LPC candidates at best. I have a mate at Latham and he barely sleeps, let alone spends his time commenting on LC articles.

(54)(3)

Simon

Ooooh Latham friend

(76)(3)

Good Game

I’ll have you know he sent me a bloody nice apology text for missing my birthday drinks…

LPC student

LOL @ anyone who thinks the vast majority of LC readers are students of some sort. K&E commenters are a handful of students and the responses have become increasingly dull tbh.

Sure, a handful of *actual lawyers* but most of them get their legal news from proper sources i.e. The Lawyer.

(11)(3)

Future Latham trainee

Your mate is probably just slow at doing his work. Best salary:hours ratio in the city babyyyy.

(5)(10)

Good Game

Ah the optimism of a ‘future joiner’, hope you’ve updated your LinkedIn page.

Future Baller

Yeah I updated it to “Future Baller.” I guess you didn’t bother updating yours out of shame for your third-rate firm.

Anon

Tbf people I know at MC firms work longer hours than those I know at US firms. Seems like there’s more hoops to jump through in general.

Still doesn’t make you a ‘future baller’ though.

Ropes v Kirkland

Genuinely can’t see why anyone would rather work at Kirkland than Ropes. Salary difference is negligible, hours and culture at Ropes is better. Makes sense that Kirkland is haemorrhaging partners.

(20)(16)

Anonymous

What does salary have to do with partners leaving? If you’re talking about why “anyone” would prefer to work at Kirkland to Ropes it might have something to do with the fact that PEP at Kirkland is – according to Legal Cheek figures – almost double that of Ropes.

(7)(3)

Anon

Haemorrhaging non-equity partners who get equity partner roles at other firms? Sounds like a good model to me…

(2)(1)

Anon

That’s because working at Kirkland is sexy AF. I’d be embarrassed to say I worked at Ropes & Gray. Sounds like the most boring firm ever. Before you finish saying it I’m already half-asleep whereas when you say Kirkland you probably have a half chub.

(12)(13)

I'd pay to see the look on your face

If you’d feel embarrassed working at Ropes, I can’t imagine how you’re going to feel when you end up working somewhere like Hogan Lovells/NRF.

(11)(9)

Anon

Ah, if only you knew where I had a training contract from you sweet summer child.

(1)(4)

£1000 says it's SC

So you’re too scared to name a firm even though you’re posting anonymously. Very believable.

(4)(3)

Anon

As tempting as it is to win an argument on the esteemed Legal Cheek comment section, I value my privacy far more.

Goodwinners

Yeah it’s Kirkland gj dummy. You know Goodwin NQs earn more than you, right?

(2)(0)

Anon

Hogan Lovells is a far better place to start a career than somewhere like Ropes… Honestly the stuff students post on here. Just because some tiny US office in London pays more at NQ does not make it a better firm. Clueless.

(31)(5)

HL Shill

Interesting that you said “start a career.” So even you know that staying at HL is pointless in the long run. Moving from HL to Ropes is objectively an upgrade – 50k extra speaks for itself. As for the “tiny US office” comment, it’s pretty clear that you’re still a believer in prestige, in which case, there’s no point having this conversation with you.)

(7)(21)

Anon

It is not ‘objectively’ an upgrade. You have no grasp of the London legal market.

Based on your logic, all the best lawyers should just go and work offshore because of tax free earnings. They would earn more money. It would be an upgrade, right? No, it wouldn’t. Stop talking about things you don’t understand.

Law man

Uuh mate moving to a smaller US firm like Ropes in London is often quite a bad career move… yeah you earn more in the short term but the standard of work you do drops dramatically and your CV takes a hit. Not good for career progression at all

Anonymagic

Ropes & Gray is far from being a “tiny” London office of a US firm. It’s arguably one of the top-tier PE/LevFin firms globally and, from London, they service the same (top-tier) client base on EMEA focused deals. They are undoubtedly on par with firms like Kirkland and Weil for these fields of practice.

Training might arguably be better elsewhere at more structured firms simply because in these kind of environments, working hours are so intense that it can be hard for juniors to progress steadily in their professional development.

Apart from that, this is a very prestigious and recognised big law institution. This is where the top-tier legal endgame takes place. Just take a look at their PEP, it’s higher than all MCs and most US firms too…

(9)(19)

lmao

Anonymagic… that name rings a bell 😂 from the NRF article

Anonymous

What legal directory, or what league table (by volume or value), in the world has Ropes anywhere close to “par” with K&E for private equity M&A, levfin or fund formation? Genuine question.

Ropes Associate

Sorry, they are not on a par with Kirkland and Weil for PE.

Not even close.

Anon

I agree that Kirkland is obviously stronger in PE than Ropes. But do people here truly care about how strong their firm is perceived to be in their respective practice areas (i.e. PE)? Not sure if you’re all freshers who think they’ll be getting a massive sense of achievement from all the work they do.

News flash: PRESTIGE DOES NOT MATTER. Until you’re 5PQE, there will be no sense of achievement and 99% of people won’t care about how high your firm is ranked since you aren’t contributing to it at all. You’ll just be slaving away under your seniors doing meaningless work (and most likely too tired to get any satisfaction from it anyway). The vast majority of people would happily work at a higher paying firm than one which tells you they offer “better quality work.”

Also, no chance the guy above me works at Ropes.

Bravo, mein Sohn, bravo

“Before you finish saying it I’m already half-asleep whereas when you say Kirkland you probably have a half chub.”

This made me chuckle, +1.

(6)(3)

Anonymous

There are no City solicitor jobs that are “sexy AF”. There are perhaps differing levels of dullness but arguing between them would be an exercise in the narcissism of small differences.

(14)(1)

Boring Lawyer Alert

I can tell you’re a lawyer because you analyse jokes too much. Analyse some tax returns instead champ, Legal Cheek isn’t billable.

(1)(3)

Anon

Why would you move to a firm like this over say, CMS? Money alone?

(0)(0)

Great banter

😂😂😂😂

(3)(0)

Ropes 1PQE

Nice gesture to allow the document drones to slave away out of their apartments instead of the office. Shame it doesn’t make the raw pumping we receive at Ropes any more bearable. WFH = regularly pulling 14-18 billable hours a day at my team, including weekends. When at home you’re considered always available.

(25)(1)

Ropes gang

I don’t think 14-18 billable hours per day is accurate lad. Fair point though. Hopefully things will be better when there’s a return to the office.

(3)(0)

Roflcopter

What do you know about billable hours at Ropes pinhead? Back to your online lectures you go.

(4)(1)

Who is this clown

Listen dumbdumb. You don’t know who you’re talking to. If you’re consistently billing 18 hours daily then you’d be dead.

(4)(1)

KIRKS 2PQE

Lmao you’re right, I actually sleep in a coffin in my office. Just in case.

Anonymagic

I don’t think WFH is entirely to blame for this. For a number of reasons, 2020 onwards has been (and continues to be) very busy for “big law” law firms due to the clients they service.

In fact, WFH most likely has been a blessing since it has allowed said people to work such intense hours without having to commute and/or having to dress formally at all times.

#goWFH?

(4)(1)

Anon

Depends what you value in a career. I consider a salary increase to be an upgrade. i.e. Earning twice as much over a 5 year period. If you truly care about honing your legal skills and pursuing a 1/100 chance of making partner, then you will think different.

Nice attempt to apply my logic but unsurprisingly you won’t be paid the same rates offshore as you are in London. As for the standard of work/CV, not sure if you genuinely think that HL gets better quality work than Ropes. The rankings speak for themselves unless you want to qualify into a dead end team with no exit opportunities (which at any full service firm is most of them).

(2)(4)

Anon

‘Top-tier legal endgame’ – what, seriously?

It’s strong in the US. In London not so much. It has a few good departments in London – like other US firms with a small (yes) presence in London – but it’s not a top London firm. It sticks to a small number of practice areas and does them well. Now, if you’re a solicitor in the city, the firm is pretty useless outside of these few practice areas. To compare it to established shops in London and say it’s better because they pay their associates more is moronic. You’re a student frothing at the mouth over a 6 figure NQ salary and if you said any of this at interview you would be laughed out the room.

Related fact – guy on my US firm vac scheme said something very similar in an interview (talked down big U.K. firms that have a lower NQ salary etc) and the interviewers were not impressed one bit. Why? They know the lawyers at those firms are very, very competent and often excel in areas they don’t.

(4)(1)

MC Trainee

At this point, I don’t care about how big the firm’s presence is in London, nor do I care about a “full-service” offering. I was scammed by the prestige argument that you’re making and the idea that the hours at MC firms are better. Truth is, if you’re planning on qualifying into any team which actually gives you exit opportunities, your hours are going to be disgusting. I don’t see how a US firm could make me work longer hours than I’m working right now so I might as well go for a higher salary. Obviously don’t say that kind of thing in an interview.

(10)(0)

Really bro

Said at 08:33am on Thursday morning?

(0)(0)

Anonymagic

We are talking corporate (PE in this case) and finance (lev fin in this case). If you are at Ropes, and you work in these two areas, I can assure you can talk down pretty much any UK shop. It is very rude, of course, but statistically you can.

I don’t get why people are comparing advisory departments. This is a transactional, mostly PE/Lev fin focused firm. Why would anyone care to compare its IP department to the one of advisory firms in London with a PEP a fourth/fifth of its size?

Ropes is top-tier no matter how you view it. Top-tier does not necessarily mean top 3. Everyone knows Kirkland is more established in these fields but Ropes is definitely a strong top contender not very far behind.

Seems to be that there are not many City practitioners here! This would be an obvious fact to any City solicitor (especially if they work or know about these fields, and the sponsors that operate in them).

(2)(2)

Ew.

Dude you’re not even a trainee, why do you think you can assess Ropes’ standing in the market. Unless you have access to some kind of special data or insight through one of the legal publications that you’re not sharing with us?

(1)(0)

Stop Comparing

Comparing UK firms and US firms is like comparing apples to oranges. It really depends on what you want in life. And don’t forget that in many US firms, you get more responsibility and exposure earlier on in your career simply because teams are leanly staffed – perfect for gunners. Agree that some UK firms will probably give you better and more structured training if you have no idea what practice area you eventually want to qualify into. Most US firms have never made it a point to expand into a full service type firm.

(3)(0)

Damn straight

Fully agree. UK firms are for clueless grads who don’t have the foggiest idea what they want to do in life and need their hands held for 2 years. US firms are for grown-ups who know how to handle the heat and do things for themselves.

(1)(3)

Weil 2PQE

Uh huh cool ok yea bro

(2)(0)

MMM

Calculate the hours you work. Work out the pay you get. Realise plumbers and electricians make more in a hour than you do. Then get back to work at 10pm on a Thursday.

(5)(1)

Bored

This is the most overused and boring statement. Yes we get it, per hour plumbers get paid more. Good for them. Go and be a plumber.

(3)(0)

Comments are closed.

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