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UK Firm of the Year 2014: Openness
07 February 2014
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Law firms aren't exactly famed for keeping staff in the know. In a profession where confidentiality rules, management often shrouds its plans in secrecy. So which firms smash the stereotype to top the RollOnFriday Firm of the Year 2014 for openness, and which are less transparent then Machiavelli in a lead-lined box?

Firm of the Year Latham & Watkins and Mishcon de Reya share first place with stellar 94% scores. Lathamites praise the firm's "generally very approachable" partners and "collegiate" atmosphere. Although one senior associate (who nonetheless gives it top marks for openness) warns that a "combination of poor hiring and backstabbing" may "ultimately change the culture of the firm". Menawhile staff at Mishcon report an "open-door policy" and evidence of "genuine strategic leadership at the top".

     94% transparency: How it looks 

Firm of the Year 2014 silver medallist Bird & Bird comes third in the openness category, with staff rating it highly for its "non-hierarchical" atmosphere and "approachable" partners. Osborne Clarke comes fourth, getting credit for being "very open about where we're going"."No-one is hiding behind closed doors", says one OB lawyer. Possibly because they can't, since it's an open plan office. It makes for an "inclusive atmosphere", says an associate, in which "no one is unapproachable". Even when they might want to be.



Further down the table, respondents from Trowers & Hamlins have a lot to get off their chest. The Managing Partner is praised for her "forward-thinking and progressive attitude" by one partner, but another grumbles that there is "zero say for the majority of partners", and "a microscopic number of people on full equity who call the shots". An associate reports that Trowers "can have bad timing when emailing the firm very important messages. I.e. when a lot of people will be out of the office". And the Cairo closure was apparently "not announced and was only known by looking at the vast amount of leavers on the starters and leavers list". Still, that's better than Ashurst and Irwin Mitchell. Both firms seem to have Pravda-esque internal newsletters which only announce joiners. At IM, "they publish the figures detailing people joining who all seem to be low-grade debt recovery people, but they don't publish details of those leaving who all seem to be high-profile partners".

But despite such sterling examples of opacity, Golden Turd winner Parabis beats everyone to the arse-end of the list. One staffer says they feel "anonymous", comparing life in the firm to "working at Tesco". Another says the firm is "disorganised" and "full of in-fighting". Clarke Willmott comes second from bottom and gets a real kicking. Respondents say there is "bickering between teams and offices", "dreadful communication from central management" and "no sign of a firm-wide business plan". The strategy, says one, "appears to be to simply ride out the tough times until 2007 returns".

Linklaters, fifth from bottom with 47%, also comes under fire. The firm is good at sharing its strategy "in a glossy brochure", says a senior associate, but "less good at consulting with staff". The firm's management is "enigmatic and mysterious", says another lawyer. Unfortunately, "I may want that in a date, BUT NOT FROM MY BOSSES". Taxi for one, no snog.

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anonymous user
24/02/2017 08:06
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Genteel southern firm merges with pig headed northern oiks. What could possibly go wrong at IM?
anonymous user
24/02/2017 09:17
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Pig headed northern oiks. That has just made me laugh out loud. So true.
anonymous user
24/02/2017 12:22
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That squirrel analogy is class. Well done, that contributor. Most droll.
anonymous user
24/02/2017 13:17
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What a surprise that the ex-linklaters people have carried on the same female squirrel chasing behaviour.
anonymous user
24/02/2017 13:27
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BLM are said from their website to offer support from day one. They don't at all. There is free tea and coffee though.
anonymous user
24/02/2017 19:15
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18
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BLM sells itself internally as having 'family values'. This is true. BLM is just like the Manson family.
anonymous user
24/02/2017 21:33
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I like what I say and I say what I like, oiks? Moj is going to sting you xxxx
anonymous user
26/02/2017 02:00
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14
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Jones Day is a nightmare for newcomers. If you know the secret handshake you're fine, if you don't then act like David Carradine walking on the rice paper. Your card will be marked and you won't know it until a meeting with HR appears in your calendar.
anonymous user
28/02/2017 07:21
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So the only firms with a worse culture than IM are two firms that aren't even solvent.
anonymous user
28/02/2017 14:13
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Not at all surprised by BLM.. Management have no regard for the pressures faced by the lawyers. It's an ugly environment to work in for power hungry "partners"
anonymous user
01/03/2017 17:45
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Claimant and defendant personal injury firms are in a mess. They need to cut overheads or they will go bust. Their models don't work. They can't diversify. Their partners will lose their capital. Bury your heads at your peril.
  

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