Hogan Lovells and Macfarlanes confirm new flexible working polices

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Both offer 40% remote option

City law firm duo Hogan Lovells and Macfarlanes have gone public with their future working policies, as the profession continues to lay the foundations for a more flexible approach to lawyer life.

Hogan Lovells says it anticipates the “majority” of its UK lawyers and staff to spend at least 60% of the working week in the office by mid-September 2021, subject to the government’s roadmap and guidance.

The firm expects its trainees to be at their desks at least four days a week, with training principal Crispin Rapinet telling Legal Cheek:

“Given the nature of the trainee role, we believe that it is beneficial for the trainee population to attend the office more frequently. The training contract is a short period of time — just six months in each of four seats — when trainees are busy learning all the time in person and through osmosis. It is therefore really important that they are able to take full advantage of the opportunities and the support on offer.”

Meanwhile, Macfarlanes will permit all lawyers and staff to work from home two days a week “subject to individual circumstances”. For some roles, the firm added, “there will be limits to what agile working options are practical and specific arrangements are in place for those roles”.

The 2021 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

A host of law firms have gone public with new flexible working polices in recent months.

Magic circle trio Clifford Chance, Freshfields and Linklaters opted for 50% remote options, while Slaughter and May confirmed 40%, with a 20% policy for trainees.

Others firms to take similar approaches include Baker McKenzie, Dechert, Eversheds Sutherland, Gowling WLG, Irwin Mitchell and Simmons & Simmons.

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PE World

Not sure why but I always had a soft spot for these two firms.

HL: a very respectable but sane institution. Litigation/Corp almost on par with the MC but retaining a very collegial environment.

Macs: the elite Corp/PE independent outfit. London’s Wachtell basically.


Ashurst associate

Hmm Macs ‘elite’ but paying NQs £85k. Ashurst and BCLP pay more!


PE World

That’s exactly what elite means. Like the “Goldman discount” in IB. Plus the game at this kind of shop is extremely long-term. All partners are essentially partners for life.



To continue attracting the elite talent you need top level salaries which firms like Macs no longer offer.


US associate

Not to mention that Macs having a PEP that outpaces the MC.


Dim Sum

Macs have already told their NQs about salary increase. And it’s more than Ashurst mate. Announcement is being made within next 2 weeks



The rankings don’t lie


An observer

Seems sensible of the British firms to lean into flexibility, dare I even say work/life balance, given the impossibility of keeping up with US pay packets.

If you could guarantee a 9-7, 5-day a week existence at somewhere like HL (not sure if you can or not – could be much worse I guess depending on Dept) while pocketing a 100k+ salary pretty early into qualification then that sounds like a decent deal.



flexibility does not = work-life balance, it just means working similar hours with possibly a little more freedom as to where you do them (and to an extent when – eg you might go for a bike ride or walk at lunchtime, but you’ll be out the door if you welch on client appointments or deadlines because you want to be flexible….

I do agree with your general sentiment that UK firms need to offer something different to US firms – be that breadth of work available and / or flexibility. US firms can say to their lawyers to be in the office every day of the week (and the weekend) / cancel holidays last minute etc… because they pay the top of the range salaries.

does anyone have experience of how that work at the less elite US firms?


An observer

For the avoidance of doubt, I did not suggest that ‘flexibility = work-life balance’.

I would suggest you get back to your Key Stage 2 English comprehension reading.



“Seems sensible of the British firms to lean into flexibility, dare I even say work/life balance”

yep, definitely no association of flexibility and work / life balance there, none at all.

But good work on the snarky comment, top work.


An observer

Association =/= synonym.


Many US firms have outright refused to announce a WFH policy. Probably indicates the start of a divergence between different types of firm, as is the case with banking.


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