Farrers is, of course, best known for being the Queen's solicitors. It's acted for the Royal Family for over seventy years and its private client work is top notch, as are related fields such as agriculture and family.
Some have questioned whether a focussed, old-fashioned firm can continue to prosper – in recent years even the Queen turned to Herbert Smith Freehills for her litigation. But all seems well enough for the moment. Lateral hires are still attracted to the firm, and it manages to bag some interesting instructions.
Farrers convincingly demonstrates that it is possible to make decent money out of private client work. Whatever its HR department might say, this is not the sort of firm that will appeal to everyone. This is the stomping ground of the pashmina brigade, double barrelled names abound, and you won't find many trainees who speak like Joe Wicks. It is a very conservative firm - having practised from the same building for over 200 years doesn't exactly speak of trend setting innovation. And assistants complain that the offices at the back of that building feel like they're 200 years old as well.
The hours are civilised, it has a reputation that belies its relatively small size and it clearly puts its money where its mouth is when it comes to work/life balance – even part time lawyers have been known to enter the partnership. But compared to arch-rival Withers it now looks hopelessly crusty: and completely outclassed on pay.
Staff responding to the RollOnFriday Firm of the Year over recent years have penned some negative responses (and not enough answered to qualify Farrers for the results table). One non-fee-earner dubbed her Farrer & Co colleagues "self-righteous t***s" for "thinking they are better than anyone else because they get to send the Queen a Christmas card". Another non-fee-earner at Farrers called the culture "toxic", saying she had "seen girls crying in the toilets". However, others disagreed, one lawyer said "people presume that the firm is snooty but it couldn't be more the reverse".
There are "completely bonkers partners", but "in the eccentric, endearing uncle/aunt sense". Another junior solicitor said there was "decent hours, a nice culture and good work", but these "come at a price. Sadly that price is our price; we should get paid more". Though another insists, "The bumf they sell to future trainees is, mostly, true. It really is a nice place to work".
Farrers doesn't appeal to everyone - but then, it doesn't want to. You will probably already know if it's the firm for you.