Revealed: Law firms’ average start and finish times 2023-24

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By Rhys Duncan on


Exclusive research shows dip in working hours compared to previous year

It’s not all big bucks, fancy offices, and high calibre perks across the UK’s top law firms. Apparently, they also get up to quite a lot of work too.

Anonymously surveying over 2,000 trainee and junior lawyers, Legal Cheek has gained an unparalleled insight into the working patterns and hours at over 100 leading law firms.

As was the case last year, the average working hours for trainee and junior solicitors have decreased across a raft of law firms. Whilst this could be chalked up as a small win for work/life balance, slowing market conditions across several practice areas may also play a role.

Topping our list for the fourth year in a row came Kirkland & Ellis, with the average junior clocking up over 12 hours a day and not logging off before 10pm. Also in the 12 hour club are Ropes & Gray, Weil Gotshal and Manges, and Milbank. Those £150k+ NQ salaries clearly don’t come without a few late nights.

The 2024 Firms Most List — featuring the Legal Cheek Survey results in full

At the other end of the scale, personal injury giant Fletchers Solicitors came in with the lowest average working day with 8 hours and 36 minutes. New entries Winckworth Sherwood and Brabners join Fletchers and returnee Russell-Cooke in averaging (just) shorter than nine hour days, with most rookies out of the office by around 6:15pm.

But, how does your firm fare? The full list of results, ranked from the longest to shortest average days, can be found below. These timings will, of course, fluctuate depending on the particular department a junior works in, and the demand at any given time. You can also see the average start and finish times of juniors, ranging from a typical 5:30 finish, to average closing times past 10pm.

Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2023-24 — average start and finish times + average working hours

Viewing on a phone? 📱 Please scroll across to view the final column 👉

Law firm Average start time Average finish time Average working day
Kirkland & Ellis 9:33am 10:01pm 12 hours 28 minutes
Ropes & Gray 9:18am 9:40pm 12 hours 22 minutes
Weil Gotshal & Manges 9:17am 9:29pm 12 hours 12 minutes
Milbank 9:21am 9:29pm 12 hours 8 minutes
Fried Frank 9:18am 9:15pm 11 hours 57 minutes
Jones Day 9:11am 8:53pm 11 hours 42 minutes
Dechert 8:53am 8:30pm 11 hours 37 minutes
Goodwin Procter 9:40am 9:16pm 11 hours 36 minutes
Simmons & Simmons 9:01am 8:30pm 11 hours 29 minutes
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 9:19am 8:46pm 11 hours 27 minutes
Sidley Austin 9:30am 8:52pm 11 hours 22 minutes
Debevoise & Plimpton 9:29am 8:51pm 11 hours 22 minutes
Clifford Chance 9:22am 8:44pm 11 hours 22 minutes
Gibson Dunn 9:05am 8:22pm 11 hours 17 minutes
Linklaters 9:18am 8:33pm 11 hours 15 minutes
Vinson & Elkins 9:18am 8:31pm 11 hours 13 minutes
Sullivan & Cromwell 9:41am 8:53pm 11 hours 12 minutes
Morrison Foerster 9:16am 8:28pm 11 hours 12 minutes
Latham & Watkins 9:26am 8:35pm 11 hours 9 minutes
Davis Polk & Wardwell 9:36am 8:39pm 11 hours 3 minutes
Norton Rose Fulbright 9:08am 8:08pm 11 hours
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton 9:15am 8:12pm 10 hours 57 minutes
Shearman & Sterling 9:16am 8:13pm 10 hours 57 minutes
Akin Gump 9:10am 8:02pm 10 hours 52 minutes
White & Case 9:20am 8:11pm 10 hours 51 minutes
Allen & Overy 9:25am 8:15pm 10 hours 50 minutes
Willkie Farr & Gallagher 9:29am 8:17pm 10 hours 48 minutes
Macfarlanes 9:08am 7:52pm 10 hours 44 minutes
Baker McKenzie 9:09am 7:52pm 10 hours 43 minutes
Herbert Smith Freehills 9:12am 7:52pm 10 hours 40 minutes
Orrick 9:21am 8:00pm 10 hours 39 minutes
Katten Muchin Rosenman 8:51am 7:25pm 10 hours 34 minutes
Greenberg Traurig 9:18am 7:51pm 10 hours 33 minutes
Ashurst 9:13am 7:46pm 10 hours 33 minutes
Stephenson Harwood 9:16am 7:47pm 10 hours 31 minutes
Taylor Wessing 8:55am 7:26pm 10 hours 31 minutes
DLA Piper 8:51am 7:15pm 10 hours 24 minutes
Paul Hastings 9:24am 7:45pm 10 hours 21 minutes
Hogan Lovells 9:09am 7:30pm 10 hours 21 minutes
Cooley 9:12am 7:31pm 10 hours 19 minutes
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner 9:06am 7:25pm 10 hours 19 minutes
Kennedys 8:45am 7:00pm 10 hours 15 minutes
Mayer Brown 9:13am 7:27pm 10 hours 14 minutes
Reed Smith 9:20am 7:32pm 10 hours 12 minutes
Travers Smith 9:17am 7:27pm 10 hours 10 minutes
Mischon de Reya 9:01am 7:10pm 10 hours 9 minutes
CMS 8:55am 7:04pm 10 hours 9 minutes
Eversheds Sutherland 8:38am 6:45pm 10 hours 7 minutes
Watson Farley & Williams 9:18am 7:23pm 10 hours 5 minutes
Slaughter and May 9:22am 7:26pm 10 hours 4 minutes
K&L Gates 9:18am 7:20pm 10 hours 2 minutes
Gowling WLG 8:55am 6:52pm 9 hours 57 minutes
Withers 9:03am 6:58pm 9 hours 55 minutes
RPC 9:00am 6:53pm 9 hours 53 minutes
Wiggin 9:01am 6:53pm 9 hours 52 minutes
Squire Patton Boggs 8:49am 6:38pm 9 hours 49 minutes
Bates Wells 9:05am 6:51pm 9 hours 46 minutes
Charles Russell Speechlys 9:01am 6:45pm 9 hours 44 minutes
Burges Salmon 8:50am 6:32pm 9 hours 42 minutes
Bird & Bird 9:10am 6:50pm 9 hours 40 minutes
Walker Morris 8:33am 6:13pm 9 hours 40 minutes
TLT 8:36am 6:14pm 9 hours 38 minutes
Foot Anstey 8:44am 6:21pm 9 hours 37 minutes
HFW 9:17am 6:52pm 9 hours 35 minutes
Pinsent Masons 9:01am 6:36pm 9 hours 35 minutes
Gateley 8:47am 6:21pm 9 hours 34 minutes
Hill Dickinson 8:46am 6:19pm 9 hours 33 minutes
Howard Kennedy 9:02am 6:33pm 9 hours 31 minutes
Lewis Silkin 8:58am 6:28pm 9 hours 30 minutes
Addleshaw Goddard 8:53am 6:22pm 9 hours 29 minutes
Penningtons Manches Cooper 8:51am 6:18pm 9 hours 27 minutes
Osborne Clarke 8:58am 6:24pm 9 hours 27 minutes
Dentons 9:21am 6:46pm 9 hours 25 minutes
Shoosmiths 8:47am 6:11pm 9 hours 24 minutes
Kingsley Napley 9:03am 6:27pm 9 hours 24 minutes
Trowers & Hamlins 8:53am 6:15pm 9 hours 22 minutes
Womble Bond Dickinson 8:37am 5:58pm 9 hours 21 minutes
Accutrainee 9:04am 6:23pm 9 hours 19 minutes
Farrer & Co 9:08am 6:26pm 9 hours 18 minutes
Michelmores 8:38am 5:56pm 9 hours 18 minutes
Bevan Brittan 8:38am 5:56pm 9 hours 18 minutes
Stevens & Bolton 8:57am 6:14pm 9 hours 17 minutes
DWF Group Plc 8:45am 6:02pm 9 hours 17 minutes
Bristows 9:12am 6:29pm 9 hours 17 minutes
Mills & Reeve 8:43am 6:00pm 9 hours 17 minutes
Express Solicitors 8:20am 5:36pm 9 hours 16 minutes
Harbottle & Lewis
9:19am 6:35pm 9 hours 16 minutes
Forsters 9:07am 6:23pm 9 hours 16 minutes
Fieldfisher 9:00am 6:15pm 9 hours 15 minutes
RWK Goodman 8:48am 6:02pm 9 hours 14 minutes
Clyde & Co 8:57am 6:11pm 9 hours 14 minutes
Weightmans 8:48am 6:00pm 9 hours 12 minutes
Ashfords 8:46am 5:55pm 9 hours 9 minutes
Shakespeare Martineau 8:45am 5:51pm 9 hours 6 minutes
Wedlake Bell 9:18am 6:21pm 9 hours 3 minutes
Birketts 8:46am 5:49pm 9 hours 3 minutes
Irwin Mitchell 8:43am 5:46pm 9 hours 3 minutes
Winckworth Sherwood 9:14am 6:12pm 8 hours 58 minutes
Brabners 8:49am 5:45pm 8 hours 56 minutes
Russell-Cooke 9:15am 6:01pm 8 hours 46 minutes
Fletchers 8:44am 5:20pm 8 hours 36 minutes

As part of the survey, we also received hundreds of anonymous comments about working hours. For those looking at the upper end of the table, some words of advice:

“Balance? Sorry mate, never heard of him.”

“Hours are, of course, not exactly 9 to 5, but it’s certainly not dissimilar to any other serious private equity or finance outfit in the City”

“Weekends and holidays are honoured (unless there are emergencies) and your time is mostly respected. However, when work calls you are expected to answer.”

“[Work-life balance] comes and goes in waves. If I were to say it’s good, that would be a lie, but it’s not as god awful as people make out. There are sometimes weeks which go by when I barely bill anything, but then I have had to work over the last two bank holiday weekends. Swings and roundabouts.”

It’s not all bad elsewhere in the table however:

“No one is expected to work late if there is no work to do. Even when there is a lot of work on, the culture of the firm is for everyone to help and support if one person has a lot to manage”

“[I’ve been] told by more than one senior person at the firm to stop checking emails at the evening/weekends”

“It is very rare that I work past 5.30pm and I have never had to do work on a weekend”

The 2024 Firms Most List — featuring the Legal Cheek Survey results in full



Those that work in those firms that finish at 9.30 or do you find it all honesty? Does it feel like you’re missing out?

US Trainee

Depends how you look at things. If you are someone who wants to play sport, watch TV and see friends midweek then you will definitely feel like you are missing out. Remember these are average hours. I have worked till 4am and I have left the office at 6pm.

My way of dealing with the late nights working is to not make plans midweek and making decent plans at the weekend. I do everything in my power to work hard during the week to ensure my weekends are more safe.

To be honest, at my age (mid-20s) I see little difference between finishing at 8.30 and 10; it’s not like you can commit to many plans at 8.30 anyway. However, I realise my views will definitely change when I get older and perhaps have a family.


Personally I think anything after 9 feels like the day has gone to do stuff but that’s just me..but tbf you are paid well

Barney the tree

Difference between 8:30 and 10 is you could still cook dinner and have an hour of downtime at 8:30.

At 10 pm realistically it’s a takeaway or microwave meal and bed before getting up 8 hours later to make your commute into the City

US Trainee

I disagree; yes, I leave the office at 10 in a taxi having had a takeaway expensed on the firm, however this means I don’t have to get the tube/bus home, go to the shops, cook, tidy up etc, by which time its well past 10 anyway.

In fact, I often leave the office at 7.30, cook for myself and log on for a further stretch at home. When you’re working for a firm with high billable expectations they tend not to care where and how you get it done, more that it gets done on time.

Barney the tree

Yeah but having a takeaway every evening?

There comes a point where I’d rather have good physical and mental health over an extra 30k


Well yes but the takeaway could be a nice fresh salad from a nearby deli or similar – tons of options, not just pizza or whatever you might be thinking about health!

Kirkland NQ

Missing put on what? I have a townhouse in Chelsea, a model girlfriend, I holiday in my house in St Troopez, and of course am the proud owner of a Lambo.

Former US Trainee

Fair question. The hours do come at a cost, both physically and emotionally. You do feel like you’re missing out on a lot, especially where you can rarely commit to any mid-week plans with confidence. Gym / cooking routines are harder to maintain etc. Although, I have found you tend to make the most of weekends.

The key is to be flexible with your plans and to treat the job a bit like an Olympic athlete. You do the hard hours and all-nighters when you need to, but be equally intentional with your limited recovery or “quiet” times. Chronically working or training those hours is generally not good.

What I will say though is when the work is interesting and you have a nice team, you can be working until late and barely notice the time fly by. You also feel like your significantly developing your knowledge/career. In other seats/roles, the shorter hours have been far more stressful and challenging to handle.


Looks like hogan Lovells is the Goldilocks of the lot, hours are not crazy and good whack


Definitely this is why HL = 🐐

Finance Associate

I work in a finance team at HL and yes the salary is good (slightly below MC) but it’s important to realize that the average hours in the table get heavily impacted by all the advisory teams at the firm who bill a lot less yet have roughly the base compensation.

I bill around 2,000 hours a year and I very rarely finish at 7:30pm. If you see it from that perspective, the compensation isn’t that great. This could be offset by faster career progression but HL is very rigid on that end too and won’t promote you before you reach a certain PQE level (but they do not shy away from saddling you with extra responsibilities earlier on).

Ultimately I stay at HL because I love my team and the last thing I want to do is work more hours so I’m safer with the devil I know, but it’s certainly not all roses.

Happy Lawyer

Exactly why I left this shocking industry. Life is much happier on the other side.


What do you do now? Odd that you still read LC if that’s the case




There are many lawyers at these top U.S. firms with family and how do they manage it?


I left just before my wife gave birth, but I know lots who do it and on the logistical side the answer is the other parent being non-working, a nanny or extremely supportive grandparents.

You are a total write off for any childcare in the week and to be honest quite a loy of weekends too. Even if your partner works relatively “normal” hours in their job, they will still have times when for one reason or another they can’t make nursery pick up times so you have to go the nanny route or grandparents stepping in.

In terms of being a supportive partner and parent? The primary contribution you make is financial security, that’s all you realistically can do in the time you have. That’s very important, but not many kids say “Mummy/daddy I love you so much became we have a nice big house/lovely holidays/I can go to private school”.

You have to accept you will have a less emotionally close relationship with your partner and kids because you simply don’t see them much, it’s a sacrifice you have to make if you choose that route. It wasn’t right for me, it is for others.


Can you explain what you mean by quite a loy of weekends? I am not familiar with this word “loy”. Thank you


Let me explain. When a mummy and daddy love each other very much….


Most of them are divorced.

S&S observer

Simmons & Simmons lawyers look like they’re being played.

Up at the very top of the hours table with no one else apart US firms and the Magic Circle for company. All those hours without the paycheque of the US firms, or boost to the career of Magic Circle (and let’s face it they won’t be getting Magic Circle wedge either).

If this is accurate, you guys need to rethink.


Paul Hastings average finish time 7.45pm? This is patently untrue lmao.


The same fake news as their positive chambers student and legal cheek reviews


But when i see friends insta they’re always seem to be on holiday or going fancy restaurants and enjoying life,so it makes me think it can be that bad although social media can be misleading


It’s amazing to me that lawyers find a way to complain about their hours when a) they know what they’re getting into when they decide to break into the industry and b) they get the starting pay that they do. Want to avoid the long hours? Find a different industry and take a pay cut.


Kirkland just paid someone £20m in London – Ian Barrett.

Perplexed (and overworked) counsel

What does that have to do with this article?


Interesting that despite ridiculous hours worked by the US Firms, they’re still ranked “top” of the list as if it’s something to be proud of…


Totally off-topic – if a lawyer working at a top law firm took a career break for 6m-1y, will this be frowned upon/impact his chance of making partner later on down the line?

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