Exclusive research: Gen Z aspiring lawyers seek ‘friendly’ firms with good pay and top quality work

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Young lawyer hopefuls less bothered about swish offices, perks and WFH policies, new Legal Cheek Student Perceptions Report reveals

“It’s as simple as being friendly,” summarised one student when we asked for the top three factors that might sway their choice when selecting law firms to apply to.

The comment comes as part of The Legal Cheek Student Perceptions Report 2023 which takes a deep dive into the issues that matter to aspiring lawyers. Two thousand students gave their opinions on everything from desirable practice areas, to what they think the firms are looking for and how they decide where to apply.

In a profession that has gained a reputation for being ambitious to the point of cut-throat, what this new generation of future lawyers found important was surprising. Respondents came from a broad range of backgrounds and disciplines, but three quarters (75%) fell into the category of Generation Z.

The number one factor in selecting whether to apply was the firm’s reputation for being friendly, with 30% selecting it as one of their most important factors. “If people are going out of their way to say the firm has a reputation for being unfriendly, then I’d probably avoid it like the plague,” said one respondent.

Quality of work came in second for aspiring solicitors, as 28% included it as a key factor. The general consensus was that no matter how great a firm was for quality of work, a reputation for treating trainees poorly was a deal-breaker for many applicants — even if that firm was in the Magic Circle.

The 2023 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

Remuneration at trainee and newly qualified (NQ) solicitor levels only ranked third on this wish-list, as a quarter (25%) included it in their top three influencing factors. This is at odds with how the profession — especially in the corporate sphere — has been traditionally viewed and could suggest a shift in the way students are approaching this often lucrative career path.

The factors that respondents considered least important were WFH policies (9%), perks (9%) office facilities (5%) and social mobility schemes (5%).

The emphasis on friendliness hinted at a general desire to feel appreciated as a trainee. Many students believed that this was related to trainee retention rates; there was an assumption that a firm with a low retention rate could indicate that those trainees did not feel valued at that particular firm.

Additional pull factors suggested by the students included a high profit per equity partner, impressive growth rate, a commitment to corporate social responsibility and firm values that match the applicant’s own.

For details about how to get a copy of The Legal Cheek Student Perceptions Report 2023, please contact



“Lawyers seek ‘friendly’ firms with good pay and top quality work” – what a suprise!!


This is so entitled and delusional. You cannot expect to go into a high performing, high stress and highly demanding profession yet expect to be wrapped in cotton wool and be sheltered from the realities of rigorous expectations. It seems that these students want to have their cake and eat it too. It is part of life to be able to work with people (and work well with them) who do not come across as friendly or likeable. Woe betide the clients of these future lawyers.


Piss off boomer

A disgruntled old man

So true Anon, back in my day we got paid 2 shillings, a sixpence and a bob a month if we hit our daily 20-hour billable target and we didn’t once complain, we simply made do back then! No wonder this country is going to the dogs…

Boomer Alert

You probably have a chip on your shoulder because you’re in career purgatory at a middling regional firm, pipe down.


100% of respondents expressed a desire not to work at whatever firm you’re at


Most people want this, this isn’t a special trait of Gen Z…


Bunch of snowflakes. This generation just want top pay combined with a 9-5 job and think they are entitled to this because they want to be lawyers. The new generation of trainees is shocking


Have you been watching GB News again? Matron has told you it’s not good for you. Now, let’s find your blood pressure pills and get you a nice cuppa, shall we?


This, and also the various responses to Anon above, are borderline ageist IMO.

Yes, Gen Z have different expectations, that is not surprising. My personal experience and observation is that the quality of successive trainees over the last 5+ years has noticeably declined, yet is accompanied by expectations of ever-higher NQ salaries and dismay at long working hours. What does this mean for the future of the legal profession? Time will tell.

Reality bites

Survey asks demographic with no idea of the real world realities what they ‘expect’ of their future employer shocker !

It would be interesting to see what the results would be a few years after graduating from the same respondents 🙂

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