Revealed: The extreme working hours of big-paying US law firms in London

Some junior attorneys are ending work after 11pm most nights

Junior attorneys at some US law firms in London are averaging 14-hour workdays, unique Authorized Cheek analysis has proven.

The information, derived from our annual survey of over 2,500 trainees and junior associates at law firms in London and the UK, exhibits that attorneys in the Metropolis hubs of some US law firms are grinding it out far longer every day in comparison with their friends at magic circle and different UK-headquartered firms — with the shift to remote-working solely serving to extend their working hours.

Kirkland & Ellis rookies reported the longest hours of any law agency in the nation for the third 12 months operating. They begin work on common at 9:14am and end near midnight at round 11:28pm. That’s over two hours later than these working at most magic circle firms, and a notable uptick on the typical hours recorded by Kirkland in final 12 months’s survey (9:28am to 9:46pm), when rookies had spent most of the 12 months in the workplace earlier than the pandemic hit.

Juniors at different US firms in London additionally report late end instances, as may be seen in the under desk. These working at Ropes & Grey and Weil end work effectively previous 10pm, in response to our figures, while juniors at Latham & Watkins, Goodwin Procter, White & Case, Cleary Gottlieb and Paul Hastings clock off on common after 9pm every day.

Authorized Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2021-22 — common WFH begin and end instances

The full hours information throughout the 100 surveyed law firms will probably be revealed later this week

Attorneys throughout the Metropolis skilled a rise in work in consequence of the pandemic, notably in personal fairness, which is a serious observe space for elite US outfits and has contributed to this 12 months’s record-breaking monetary outcomes.

For instance, the PE growth reportedly noticed Kirkland’s world income edge in the direction of $5 billion (£3.6 billion) and companion income attain an eye-watering $6.2 million (£4.5 million).

Responding to our survey, which was carried out at the beginning of this 12 months, across the time of the third nationwide lockdown, one junior lawyer at a US agency stated, “the hours are long and Covid-19 has made this especially worse with the post-pandemic boom creating huge deal flows and competing client expectations”. They added:

“Work from home has created a ‘work/life blur, rather than balance’”.

This sentiment was mirrored by different junior lawyer respondents.

“[My] work/life balance has been totally eroded by Covid-19 and working from home,” pitched in one other trainee. “Pre-covid, while there were of course busy periods, I would generally log off and leave the office between 7-9pm, and weekend working was a rarity. Now, finishing work before midnight is unheard of during the week, and weekend working is a regular occurrence.”

“WFH [work from home] life has also meant that with nothing else in our diaries, the default thing to do has just been to work and there’s been no shortage of work to fill up the time,” one other trainee added.

A pink scorching market coupled with no enterprise journey or commute to the workplace to interrupt up the work day and little oversight from seniors as to once they clock off, left juniors feeling “like we’re on the clock 24/7”, though it was acknowledged that “the flow of deals often means you will have downtime in between heavy spats of work.”

The findings may also partly be defined by the truth that New York (the place these firms are normally headquartered) is 5 hours behind London and infrequently require help later in the day from UK colleagues.

There have been a wave of junior lawyer pay rises reported on over the previous 12 months, with newly certified (NQ) salaries at US law firms in London toppling over £150k. There have additionally been stories round of firms awarding Covid and different discretionary efficiency bonuses “to keep us sweet”, in the phrases of one trainee.

The billing targets at US firms are typically larger than at others, as proven in our 2022 Firms Most Checklist. And we’re instructed if rookies at one agency had been thought of to be “under capacity” in phrases of billing targets, that they’d get “ripped into corporate M&A deals”, regardless of what seat they had been in. In one other occasion, one trainee stated they billed “400+ hours in a month”.

A full breakdown containing 100 UK law firms’ common WFH begin and end instances will probably be revealed later this week.

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