Business

‘Ruthless’, ‘woke’, ‘fantastic’: lawyers spill on their firm’s culture

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On the plus side, we are about to launch the Be Kind initiative.


More than 3,400 legal professionals have rated or rated their firms in RollOnFriday’s Best Law Firms to Work for 2023 survey. If you’re in private practice, now’s the time to talk about your firm. Do it do it do it.

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Respondents were having their say in the culture, where one man’s flesh is another woman’s poison. Just three weeks later, plenty of opinions have already aired, with some questioning the sincerity of the motivations behind their corporate culture-shaping initiatives.

“It would be nice to know what is meant by corporate culture. Right now all we get is that we have to be ‘nice be Kennedy’,” said one of the Kennedys’ senior attorneys.

“There are a lot of ‘initiatives’ coming up, diversity, inclusion, work-life balance, etc., and most of them are necessary,” says an attorney at Slaughter and May. But maybe if there was a little bit of common sense, and the idea of ​​acting normally and treating people normally, in the first place, then such innovative things as ‘not having people do non-urgent work on an urgent basis’ wouldn’t need explaining.

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Even companies that score good reviews of their culture have their detractors. It’s “still conservative and stuck in the ’70s,” claims McFarlanes’ attorney, while a Travers-Smith attorney says its marketing “contradicts the outcry thrown by aisle-walking dinosaur partners bemoaning the lack of bums on benches post-pandemic”.

“The practices are run like a series of fiefdoms, and nobody gets involved as long as they appear to be making money,” says a senior attorney at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. They add: “A number of the partners are ruthless narcissists, not particularly good at their formal functions … As long as they are smart enough to exercise management, no one cares what they do with their teams.”

A Trowers & Hamlins attorney claims that the company is “very stingy with sociability”, and the lack of team spirit is exacerbated by the “extremely toxic atmosphere within my own team, with constant criticism of other people’s work/methods/approaches”.

Eric Cantona’s award for most bizarre (but genius?) comment so far goes to senior Squire Patton Boggs, who likened its culture to “a room with a bunch of people and a corpse with a slit in the throat, everyone grimacing and complaining about the smell and the look of it; an old person tells Someone younger to put a cloak over it and pull it into a corner. Now, happy Monday everyone, back to work!”

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Many praise their company, too. CMS’s attorney says she’s “really nice and down-to-earth,” while Shoosmiths’ attorney describes the company’s culture as “extremely supportive and not at all hierarchical.”

“There’s a certain reputation for American law firm culture,” says an intern at Shearman & Sterling, “but we certainly don’t fit it.” In my experience, everyone is friendly and easy to deal with regardless of seniority.

Don’t agree with your colleagues’ comments? Rally in defense of your company, or not, and take the survey below.

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