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What makes a happy law firm? Best law firms to work for in the UK and more

| Written by Altlaw

Your firm's success depends on the work your employees perform. Companies with happy employees are said to outperform the competition by 20%, a huge difference in an industry as competitive as litigation.

But how do you facilitate happiness in a profession famed for its high stress and demanding workloads? This blog post explores ways to boost happiness at your firm and 2023's best law firms to work for in the UK.


What makes a happy law firm?

Creating a happy law firm may seem challenging in such a demanding industry. However, it isn’t only possible, but it's also hugely beneficial. So, how can you turn your firm into one of the best law firms to work for in the UK?

A supportive work culture

A happy firm starts with a supportive and inclusive work culture. If your firm fosters an environment where employees feel valued, respected and heard, this will lead to happiness.

You'll want to encourage open communication, collaboration and teamwork across your legal teams to achieve this. By developing a strong workplace culture, whether via strong communication of values or facilitating opportunities for learning, you're far more likely to see engaged employees.

Work-life balance

Something often hard to come by in the litigation world, a healthy work-life balance can significantly impact employee engagement and happiness. Offering flexible working arrangements such as remote work or flexible hours can greatly impact your teams' working lives.

Work-life balance is vital for remaining energised throughout the working day, and with 77% of employees saying they've experienced burnout at least once in their current jobs, facilitating a work-life balance is where you can stand out among litigation employers.

Recognition and reward

Recognising and rewarding your team's hard work can go a long way towards contributing to employee happiness. Not only this, but recognition also fuels motivation to succeed, with employees knowing hard work won't go unseen.

With 83.6% of employees saying recognition impacts their motivation to succeed at work and 77.9% saying they'd be more productive if recognised more frequently, this is a step you’ll want to take advantage of when creating a happy firm.


Clear progression

If your employees are motivated to work hard, chances are they'll be more content in the workplace. One of the best ways to facilitate this is by offering clear career progression to employees.

When employees see a clear path to progression within the firm — along with opportunities for skill development and advancement — they're more likely to be happy and, more importantly, stick around. For example, 93% of employees are willing to stay with a company that invests in their careers.

Workload management

The law industry is no stranger to huge caseloads and countless hours of work. However, this demand can harm employees, often leading to burnout and increased stress.

Look into ways to decrease employee workloads, such as creating more efficient processes or implementing technology to save time.


The benefits of happy employees

When the firm has a high workload, you'll want happy and content employees to tackle it. Happy employees are 12% more productive than unhappy workers on average, which, over time, can make a massive difference to your firm's output.

You're also more likely to experience lower turnover rates, with employee recognition programmes reducing turnover rates by over 50%. This can be hugely beneficial when considering the cost of a new hire.

When you combine happy, productive employees with experienced, long-standing staff, you're far more likely to offer a better service to your clients, enhance your firm's reputation and experience innovation in the workplace.


The best law firms to work for in the UK

So, which firms are the ones that do it right? RollOnFriday's Best Law Firms to Work at 2023 survey saw over 7,500 legal professionals rate their firm's pay, career development, management, culture, work-life balance and office amenities, contributing to an overall happiness score.

Here are the top 10, according to the official report:

1. Burges Salmon (87% score)
2. Sidley Austin (85%)
3. Bird & Bird (82%)
3. Clarke Willmott (82%)
5. Osborne Clarke (81%)
5. Trowers & Hamlins (81%)
7. Ropes & Gray (79%)
8. Mills & Reeve (78%)
8. Addleshaw Goddard (78%)
10. RPC (77%)

To see the complete list of 57 firms ranked, click here.


Leveraging technology to facilitate happiness

Employee burnout is a big problem facing the legal industry. States of physical and emotional exhaustion can often occur in law offices due to the intense job demands and high pressure of a litigation career.

Your typical lawyer is often highly motivated and engaged, but work demands are often greater than the resources available. So, how can you combat this? Creating a happy law firm can be done in several ways, but employees are far more likely to be content if they have more time to focus on engaging work.

The modern litigation landscape is beginning to adapt to implementing technology to generate efficiencies and time savings, giving legal professionals a greater shot at a healthy work-life balance. 

Legal tech startups are no longer uncommon, and legal tools such as document automation software and legal research platforms can instantly complete laborious, manual tasks. 

Technology can streamline long-winded legal processes, reducing the administrative burden on legal professionals. It can boost efficiency and reduce the stress and frustration caused by countless hours of paperwork and manual tasks.


Introducing eDiscovery providers

eDiscovery is one of the most time and cost-intensive processes completed by law firms worldwide. eDiscovery providers play a huge role in streamlining processes, boosting employee engagement and increasing worker happiness. By cutting the time required to complete manual tasks, providers can give lawyers time back in their day to focus on more engaging work.

eDiscovery is the process of identifying, collecting, preserving, analysing and producing electronically stored information (ESI) as part of the legal discovery process and is used to efficiently locate and manage electronic evidence.

With data becoming increasingly critical to cases worldwide, effective eDiscovery could be a huge player in facilitating a happier and more engaged firm. To learn more about eDiscovery, visit our eDiscovery page below.

Learn more about eDiscovery