Culture

9.0 / 10

(based on 8 ratings in 2018)

2018

"There is a conscious effort to move away from the standard structure and hierarchy of a law firm, especially now that we are an ABS (alternative business structure). I feel the firm is committed to trying to correct any gender pay gap by readdressing any questioned transparency in the figures published internally. Socialising and team building is encouraged and flexible and agile working is becoming more common in some departments, but not in others."
First year trainee, Exeter
"The culture is supportive and friendly and the partners I have worked with are approachable. Teams are welcoming and interested in you and what's expected of you is reasonable for your level of experience."
First year trainee, Exeter
"The culture is friendly, down to earth and fun. The firm supports employees having a life outside of work and all staff are treated equally regardless of their position. Everybody gets the same desks and the same opportunities as well as all levels of staff being involved in social events."
Second year trainee, Bristol
"The culture is very inclusive. There is no hierarchy so it easy to approach partners to ask either questions about your work, or just to chat more generally. The Bristol office is also especially sociable, meaning that there are lots of opportunities to attend events and also socialise more informally outside of the office."
First year trainee, Bristol
"There is a really positive attitude to teamwork and you are never far from someone who will be happy to assist you with anything you need, even if you feel like your question is a silly one. The firm encourages you to participate in activities outside of work and there are lots of sports events that we can get involved in too, which are fun and great for networking. The hierarchy is not imposed on you here either. I have been to several events where I am the only junior and felt at ease."
First year trainee, Bristol
"My working hours are generally very good, though this can vary from team to team. On the whole, the firm has a good work/life balance."
First year trainee, London

2017

"Everyone is really friendly and welcoming. The open-plan nature of the Exeter office means it's really easy to approach anyone and ask for help. I also haven't worked in many places where the partner makes you the coffee! I think smaller offices like Tiverton are more social. Friday drinks take place every week, allowing the whole office to socialise together."
First year trainee, Exeter/Tiverton
"Due to the open-plan office, there is little hierarchy when it comes to work during office hours. This means that it is quite easy to seek the advice and thoughts of more senior members of staff, which is helpful. It can be a little difficult to encourage people to socialise after hours because of the location of the office, but we hold office drinks each month and there is a yearly firm-wide event to get everyone together and socialise. We are also encouraged to attend external events, but it is not expected."
Second year trainee, Exeter
"The culture is generally a friendly and happy one but this can differ between teams in the office. Due to the office layout and general attitude of partners it does not seem like a hierarchical firm and it is sometimes easy to forget how senior someone is as we are all treated pretty equally. Teamwork differs between departments but most are approachable and provide support on a technical legal matter that you may not have come across before. There isn't a great deal of socialising after hours but this is mainly due to the fact that my office is outside of the city centre so there aren't many places to go for a drink and most people live outside of Exeter. However, trainees do tend to split into groups and go out every now and again."
First year trainee, Exeter
"There's a great team atmosphere and work/life balance."
Newly qualified solicitor, Taunton, Somerset
"The culture is very friendly and supportive. There is not a hierarchical system for the most part and everyone is seen as an important wheel in the firm's machine."
Second year trainee, Exeter
"The firm is very driven and confident in their brand. Day-to-day life in the firm is incredibly relaxed and the people are very friendly. While the trainees are sociable, the rest of the office can be a little less so. I believe that this is due to the location of the Exeter office and not the people themselves."
First year trainee, Exeter
"When you walk in to the office you cannot tell who is at what level as all of the offices are open-plan and everyone has the same desk. This set-up is hugely helpful for trainees as you naturally overhear what other team members are saying and pick things up. Colleagues can also overhear what you are saying, which I have found to be incredibly helpful as I get on-the-spot feedback when talking to clients. This may sound annoying, but everyone very much works as part of a team and is supportive and encouraging. In Bristol, we have drinks every Thursday after work and there are a number of different events throughout the year that culminate in a night out."
First year trainee, Bristol
"The junior members of the office are very social and we do a lot together as a group both in and outside of work. Partners are very sociable too and join us for after-work drinks etc."
First year trainee, Bristol
"The structure can be slightly confusing for those not 'in-the-know'. There are solicitors, associates, legal directors, senior associates and two grades of partner. In terms of the teamwork and socialising between colleagues, the smaller offices are much more community orientated with lots of office-wide events taking place several times a month (BBQs, nights out, Friday drinks etc). The larger offices (Exeter, Bristol, London) are more likely to have interdepartmental socialising as opposed to office-wide."
First year trainee, Taunton
"The team I am in is very helpful and there is plenty of socialising among colleagues in and out of work."
Second year trainee, Taunton

2016

"The firm is relaxed and friendly. During office hours there is a hardworking ethos with the expectation that you will 'stay until the job is done'. However, this is rewarded with regular social events (the Bristol office has office drinks every Thursday and there is an annual firm-wide summer party and Bristol office Christmas party). Junior members of the firm are encouraged to attend events wherever possible and there is a nice network of trainees and paralegals who regularly have lunch together and meet up outside of work. Colleagues socialise across all levels (including partners). The Bristol office is fairly partner-heavy but this does not impact upon the relaxed and friendly attitude of the office. Everyone is approachable and departments often collaborate and encourage trainees and other juniors to develop cooperative relationships with those in other departments to assist with the efficient delivery of services to clients."
First year trainee, Bristol
"While there are charity and social events, there is not a culture of casual drinks after work. This is probably because the location doesn't really lend itself to that. However, yoga classes are run at lunch times alongside other fitness activities and people have been very welcoming. The firm funds a number of social events throughout the year within departments, offices and firm-wide."
First year trainee, Exeter
"The teamwork is great within the firm and the people really make it. The trainees are all great friends and lots of social activities are organised outside of the working day. For example, there's a planned outing to Go Ape."
First year trainee, Exeter
"Trainees are encouraged to attend seminars and networking/marketing events. Junior members of the firm have been given a budget to partake in marketing initiatives and it has been great to be given this level of autonomy."
Second year trainee, London
"Good culture on the whole with the majority of supervisors being friendly and down to earth. However, more could be done to look after and nurture trainees."
Second year trainee, Exeter
"The firm's culture is driven by the expected desire to satisfy our clients and to succeed and grow as a firm. The firm encourages people to get involved in activities outside of work. People are always happy to help and provide advice and you will be expected to be able to work independently or as part of a team. Socialising with colleagues is not forced so it is very much your choice."
Second year trainee, Exeter
"Lots of partners who get involved in all of the inter-office and external events. All levels and members of staff are encouraged to participate in socialising and work events. The firm has a good grasp of work/life balance."
First year trainee, Taunton
"As the office is open plan, there is no clear hierarchy in the office. This is great as you can sit near, chat to, and learn from the partners and other experienced lawyers. There is a reasonable focus on social events for junior staff, although there could be more events put on to integrate people from different offices."
First year trainee, Exeter

2015

"For a large firm, there is a very friendly atmosphere around the office. All members of staff are approachable and the general impression is that you can ask questions of anyone. Socialising outside of office hours varies from department to department, but trainees tend to get on well and will socialise among themselves. The firm-wide summer party is always a fantastic event!"
Second year trainee, Exeter
"The culture is generally very relaxed but with a hard working ethos. There is a good work/life balance as working hours in the Exeter office are between 9:00am-6:00pm with staff achieving a lot within that time period. Staff socialising is not always common outside working hours except among close friends, but the firm do try to organise office-wide social events. Staff are mostly married and have families."
First year trainee, Exeter
"Ashfords has a very positive and friendly culture. All members of staff are approachable no matter what their job title. Teamwork is key to the way we work and is very much encouraged and rewarded."
First year trainee, Exeter
"It would be impossible to avoid any kind of hierarchical environment in a law firm, but I do not feel it is more than it should be. In particular, staff are involved in decisions and are given the opportunity to get involved with things that include staff of all levels, for example on corporate social responsibility and charity."
First year trainee, Bristol
"The firm offices are all open-plan and juniors regularly work closely with senior partners in the team. The team is very supportive of one another and work is distributed to appropriate capacity levels. The team and my trainee intake have been very sociable with regular department dinners/evenings out."
Second year trainee, Exeter
"The firm is a very friendly place to work, and as it is open-plan, allows interaction with all members of the team. This enables you to learn more through hearing comments and to become closer to those that you work with. Outside of work hours, each department organises their own social activities, however the firm organises a summer party each year for all to attend. Some of the smaller offices also organise regular office outings."
Second year trainee, Exeter
"There is a good atmosphere within the department where all colleagues are approachable. There is a good work/life balance with the average day being 8:30am to 6:00pm. The department has two partners, two associates, two assistant solicitors and a trainee. We occasionally socialise as a team, but the trainees socialise more often."
Second year trainee, Exeter

2014

"Ashfords is a very sociable firm, with a range of social and CSR activities to get involved in. As discussed previously, there is no sense of hierarchy and every member of staff is valued."
First year trainee, Exeter
"The culture here is generally good and supportive but inevitably inter-office communication could be improved."
Second year trainee, Plymouth
"Partners interact well and often with trainees. Most partners are incredibly approachable and are keen on providing good training to the trainees. Staff of all levels participate in charity events out of hours. The degree of socialising amongst colleagues depends on the department."
First year trainee, Exeter and Plymouth
"We have a decent office culture - the office itself is open-plan with all levels of the hierarchy sitting together and a general willingness to help. The occasional events are good and there are lots of activities in support of a local charity or local networking events."
Second year trainee, Exeter
"The office is very friendly and there is always someone interested in what you have been up to. The teams I have worked in have all been really helpful and don't mind having their brain picked for information. At busy times, especially in litigation, the team all pulls round to help with urgent matters and ensure they are completed on time. The offices are very social with regular events to attend and take part in, and the Exeter Office holds a monthly drinks evening for staff."
First year trainee, Exeter
Our 'Inside Buzz' reviews are the comments and views of recent graduate recruits, giving you a view of what it may be like to work for an organisation. Copyright of all TARGETjobs Inside Buzz material lies solely with GTI Media.
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