It’s no secret that major law firms (think ‘corporate’, ‘City’, Magic Circle or even elite US firms) ask a lot of their employees. You’re consistently under a lot of pressure and stress, with heavy workloads, challenging tasks and long working hours. Kirkland & Ellis, for example, are an elite US firm with junior lawyers clocking in around 14 hours a day, and often working on weekends too. 70% of City lawyers feel their mental health is put at risk by their jobs. It’s definitely no easy career, and aspiring lawyers need to understand that there is a level of balance at stake, which everyone needs to weigh up according to their own personal circumstances to decide what’s right for them.
Traditionally, most feel that these negative aspects of the work have been offset by large salaries – some of the top firms in London are now paying north of £150,000 per year to their newly qualified (NQ) associates. However, in the increasingly competitive market for legal talent at the highest level, firms are now looking for other ways to differentiate themselves and appeal to future employees. An increasingly common avenue for achieving this has been to offer some incredible perks. While many of them share similar benefits, this article outlines some of the most unique perks on offer from some of the most prestigious law firms.
While this information is as accurate as possible, please note that many of these perks change regularly, and so may not be currently available at all times – feel free to speak to, or research, these firms directly to learn more about their offerings if you’re interested in getting more details.
Often among the top paying outfits in London, this US mega-firm also offers some extraordinary perks. Its most headline-grabbing offering is the so called ‘Concierge’ service, where all lawyers essentially have a personal assistant on call – they have fulfilled requests ranging from buying family Christmas presents to helping lawyers move homes. This is a rare perk that only seems to have been mirrored so far by one other top US firm, Ropes & Gray. Also on offer are luxurious retreats to top hotels, tickets to big sporting events, a £25 dinner voucher after 7pm and paid taxis home after 9pm. Based on their average finish time, those perks are likely to be used very heavily.
Another US giant in London offers a range of wellness-related perks, including ‘Wellness Works For Me’ – £500/year being offered to spend on activities including gym memberships, yoga, and spa days.
This Magic Circle firm has a number of incredible features within its Spitalfields office, including an on-site wellness centre that includes a gym (relatively common), a spa (less common), an underground futsal pitch (very rare) and even a dance studio (unheard of). Also on-site are a range of medical facilities including a doctor (offering free annual flu jabs) and dentist. Free concert tickets and the standard meal and taxi tickets past a certain time in the evening are also provided. Two roof terraces with excellent views of the city (very popular in summer) round off the perks on offer here.
Free concert tickets are a well-known part of Clifford Chance’s offering (even to their vacation schemers who recently attended a Stormzy O2 concert, a venue at which the firm maintains a private box). An honourable mention also goes out to Weil Gotshal & Manges, who apparently have the same setup at the O2 now. However, Clifford Chance’s crown jewel when it comes to perks is undisputedly the swimming pool in their Canary Wharf offices, which also incorporates various leisure facilities including a hairdressers and dry-cleaning.
Again, we have the usual on-site gym, food and taxis after a certain point in the evening, etc. However, Freshfields’ most unique perks are those associated with culture and the arts. They have been known to offer lawyers subsidised (or even free) tickets to events at major galleries and museums across the city – for example an exclusive VIP membership to the National Portrait Gallery.
Bird & Bird (a firm specialising in areas such as IP and Sports Law) has one particularly unique perk. The firm organises an annual football tournament hosted by one of its international offices – teams from each firm across the globe travel to compete in a competition against their colleagues abroad. If the Allen & Overy futsal pitch didn’t quite grab your attention enough, perhaps this might.
This City firm is known for having astronomic growth in recent years, and now competes with some of the top firms for work. Perks have similarly risen, and their offering now includes access to a private Royal Albert Hall box and free music lessons. On the less tangible (but just as valuable) end of the spectrum, Travers Smith is one of a growing handful of firms that offer their lawyers a short paid sabbatical a few years after qualifying.
The benefits of working at a law firm at the highest level are certainly numerous (as are the challenges that come with them), but the perks in particular are nothing short of extraordinary at times. From healthcare to food, transport and luxurious getaways, the perks on offer are quite something, and likely to only become even better as the competition between firms for the best legal talent heats up. Whether the trade-off is worth it based on the hours and pressure that comes with these benefits, however, is for the individual to carefully consider and decide upon.
By Declan Peters
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