Data published in summer 2017 pinpointed Leeds as the country’s fastest growing legal centre, recalling the glory days of the pre-financial crisis era. Legal jobs in the region are up by 20% this year. This is good news for one of the city’s biggest firms, Walker Morris, which now seems to be in a position to shrug off several years of falling revenues.
The firm is well known for its single-city policy, with the lower overhead and investment model accounting for some chunky partner profits but also attaching Walker Morris’ fortunes very much to the ebbs and flows of the Yorkshire economy.
The quality of work is some of the highest you’ll get in the region, thanks in particular to the firm’s well regarded corporate team. “It is a very faced paced environment, its good to be an important cog in the wheel here at Walker Morris,” a trainee tells us. One of the highest levels of client secondments around supplements the learning; according to our figures half of the firm’s rookies have done one, with destinations including Drax power station, Asda and Bupa.
Lawyers work hard here, with an average arrival time of 8:30am and an average leave time of 6:49pm, meaning they are in the office for more then ten hours most days. We are told that real estate “provides a quite steady 8.30 to 6.30”, whereas in corporate “hours are much more unpredictable and often longer.”
Another rookie adds: “Most days I can probably work 8am to 6pm and no-one would bat an eyelid. In fact they’d all already be gone. I have been in the office trial bundling until 1:30am but it was a one-off. Most weeks I need to stay for one evening until 7 or 8pm and/or work for a few hours at the weekend but it’s manageable. The partners tend to comment if you stay late, so it is noticed and not expected. They do, however, expect some fee earners to work at home and if you get into the habit of it, it becomes difficult to break.”
Mitigating the hours are some decent pay levels, which are among the highest in the Leeds market, and good perks. They include lots of “excellent” charity events such as quizzes, rounders and dress down days, plus “great” firm-arranged social events for trainees, vacation scheme students and future trainees “which allows everyone to get to know each other a bit more personally and really contributes to the friendly nature of the firm.”