Lawyers at US firms in London work longest hours, survey shows

updated on 07 November 2023

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Junior lawyers at top paying US law firms in London work on average more than 12 hours a day, according to a recent survey. The survey investigated the working hours of approximately 2,500 solicitors across more than 100 law firms, with US firms making up the top eight spaces on the list.

The annual survey, which was carried out by Legal Cheek, saw Kirkland and Ellis International LLP take the top spot on the working hours table with the average start and finish time for junior lawyers being  9:33am and 10:00pm. Of the magic circle firms, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP was the highest placed, with junior lawyers working around 11 and a half hours a day from 9:16am to 8:59pm on average.

The survey also showed that the average number of hours worked correlated with pay, with US firms tending to pay the highest starting salaries. For example, Kirkland & Ellis and Latham & Watkins have an average starting salary of £173,254. However, Slaughter and May, a firm reputed to have “the wealthiest partners in the magic circle”, according to The Times, had much shorter working hours when compared to leading firms, with an average of just more than 10 hours a day.

The highest ranked English firm was Simmons & Simmons LLP. In response to the survey, a Simmons & Simmons LLP spokesperson commented that the responses “do not reflect the hours expectations of the firm or the average working hours of our junior lawyers”.