With a staff entertainment budget of £256,000 a year, law is not an entirely serious business at Osborne Clarke, the Bristol-based firm founded in 1747. The company, which also has offices in London, Reading, and California, is in the top 50 of Britain's law firms.
Leslie Perrin, the managing partner, welcomes every employee to the firm personally. Generous childcare benefits for female solicitors include a £3,700 childcare allowance after maternity leave.
All solicitors have private health insurance, but paralegals and support staff are entitled to this only after four years of service, while partners and heads of department have family cover included. Professional subscriptions are paid for, and there is a recruitment bounty scheme paying £2,000 to recommend fee earners and £750 to £1,500 for support staff.
The firm shows its human touch day to day. It was one of the first law firms to introduce casual dress and gives free internet access during lunchtime or out of hours. Relaxation vouchers are offered to people working long hours and "thank you's" are said publicly in The Weekly, a staff news sheet.
Long service is rewarded with vouchers from £250 for 10 years to £3,000 for 40 years, while newlyweds are given £50.
Some 94% of employees said Osborne Clarke was a friendly place to work and one told us: "The partners remember 100% of employees' names — I was amazed." Three in four workers said the firm had an emotionally and psychologically healthy atmosphere and 90% believed it was a great place to work.
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