"Employees at DLA are spared problems such as the search for a plumber — a concierge service will do it for them. This is just one strand of the support network provided by the legal firm, whose commitment to its 2,500-plus British staff extends beyond the mere professional arena. Since making last year's list, DLA has gone from ninth- to seventh-largest legal company in the UK. Part of a worldwide group with more than 2,700 lawyers in 18 countries, it wants to grow further. Staff are aware of this ambition: 87% feel the values and principles of the organisation have been communicated clearly to them, a score among the 40 highest in our survey.
Managing partner Nigel Knowles visits each of the eight offices — in London, Leeds, Sheffield, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow and Edinburgh — each year to report on progress and plans, and to motivate the troops.
DLA has a young workforce: nearly half are between 26 and 34. Nearly two-thirds are women, and although men outearn them in all salary brackets beyond £45,000, some 70 women earn more than £100,000 a year (compared with 254 men). About 450 new staff were taken on last year, and solicitors earn £38,000. First-year solicitors get 45 days' training, second years get 40 days and those in their third year get 56 days: £1.3m was spent on formal off-the-job training last year. DLA likes to contribute to its communities, and partners and lawyers offer their time and expertise to organisations such as housing associations and hospitals. The company has city partnerships with the Princes Trust and it gave more than 7,000 hours last year — at a notional value of more than £1m — to activities ranging from corporate social responsibility and community investment to pro bono legal advice. Staff duly rank DLA in the top 40 for putting something back into the local community.
Three-quarters of employees are proud to work for the firm. All staff have 25 days' holiday and qualify for an extra 10 days over two years, after three years' service. Maternity and paternity pay is above average: 14 weeks at 100% salary and one week at 100%, respectively. Individuals are eligible for bonuses for outstanding performance.
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