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Hours

7.2 / 10

(based on 27 ratings in 2019)

2019

"There's definitely an art to saying no to jobs and learning when to call it a night. There is always more work to be done but the firm is very good at recognising that a work/life balance is integral to maintaining a long and fruitful legal career."
Second year trainee, London
"The hours are long and there is no getting away from that. Compared to other firms doing comparable work, however, the hours are pretty good. All departments will expect you to put in the hours required to get the work done to a high standard but you're expected to leave once you have done this. There isn't a face-time culture."
Second year trainee, London
"Hours vary by department. You will get stretches of long hours (as at any city firm) but they are not quite the norm and nobody will complain about you leaving at 5:30 pm if you're quiet. Similarly, people are generally good about you getting out on time for evening commitments (eg the theatre) and, even as a trainee, you can work from home if necessary and weekend work is relatively rare."
Second year trainee, London
"Although there is generally no face-time culture, the firm needs to be more accommodating when it comes to flexible hours. To my knowledge, trainees are prohibited from agile working."
First year trainee, London
"Hours vary by department and depend on what is happening and what your supervisor is doing. There's a little bit of flexibility if there is something pre-arranged that you've paid for and you're free to go home if things are quiet."
First year trainee, London
"I currently work from 9.00 am to 8.00 pm on average. This can be flexible though if you have an appointment or something planned. I can also work from home in the evenings if I feel I can be productive and I don't need to be in the office."
Second year trainee, London
"I had absolutely no control of my working hours in one of my seats. If you had plans in the evening and were winding down at 6.00 pm, you could very easily be dropped with a task that would keep you until the early hours. However, I've had much more control over my hours and control of my workload in my other seat. If I know I need to be out earlier one evening, I can just work a bit later or come in earlier on a different day."
First year trainee, London
"The firm is very flexible with letting you work from home or come in late when you need to and understanding if you have events after work you cannot miss."
First year trainee, London

2018

"It varies by department but if you have evening plans then people make every effort to get you there (although you may have to cancel if you're closing a deal or something similar) and working from home is increasingly popular (the entitlement is one day per fortnight for qualified fee earners). Having said that, the firm has been busy lately and the hours in some of the departments at the more corporate end of the firm can get fairly brutal."
First year trainee, London
"My hours are usually from 9.30 am to around 7.00 pm so really not bad at all. There are busier spells, such as around Christmas time, but that's somewhat expected and your work is appreciated. I was even given days off in lieu when I worked weekends and all-nighters."
First year trainee, London
"The hours can be long but I've mainly worked in transactional seats and I know that other departments are more stable. I think the hardest thing is that hours go up and down and it's hard to predict and it can lead to plans being cancelled. This leads me to rarely make concrete plans. That said, when I've had tickets booked for things on weekdays in the past, the solicitors tend to be very understanding and have let me go when possible."
First year trainee, London
"The hours can be quite unpredictable but there is no pressure to stay late unless it's absolutely required."
Second year trainee, London
"The hours are quite long, but that is to be expected at a firm like Macfarlanes. The firm is good about flexible working and is making considerable efforts to improve in that regard. Associates and partners can work from home one day a fortnight (and are encouraged to do so) and all fee earners work on surface pro laptops now. Plenty of people go home at 6.00 pm and then work from home when they need to work late."
First year trainee, London
"The firm is encouraging if you need to leave to get home and then work from home in the evenings. Working hours are hugely variable though and there is often little to no warning if you will be leaving at 6.00 pm or at 10.00 pm for example."
First year trainee, London
"It's a top-end City law firm, so the hours will sometimes be tough. It completely depends on the department, the stage of the year and the economic cycle. All fee earners are given surface pros that can be taken home. Where before you'd be stuck in the office, you feel much more able to be back for dinner and interact with friends and family at home, which has made a big difference."
Second year trainee, London
"The hours I work are very manageable. Supervisors are careful not to work their trainees to the ground as they don't want us to burn out."
First year trainee, London

2017

"As long as you get the work done, people are usually reasonable if you have other commitments that you need to get to."
First year trainee, London
"Hours can be long at times but this has not been problematic and is a necessary part of learning as much as possible as a trainee."
Second year trainee, London
"Hours vary from department to department but they aren't bad by the standards of City law firms. There isn't much flexibility though and there is lamentably something of a face-time culture. Even very senior solicitors look like they feel guilty about leaving early, even if they clearly have nothing left to do."
First year trainee, London
"Different departments have different hours and it obviously depends on the nature of your work and any deadlines."
First year trainee, London
"Hours are not flexible for trainees but becomes more so as you become more senior."
Second year trainee, London
"Obviously there are some days when you have to stay late, but there's no face-time culture in my department and, if you have somewhere to go, people are usually pretty understanding."
Second year trainee, London
"At present I work from 9.30 am to 9.00 pm on average as I am in a very busy transactional seat. This can increase or decrease depending on what I am working on."
First year trainee, London
"The hours vary greatly. They can be very civilised or very unsociable depending on your supervisor and your department."
First year trainee, London

2016

"The hours aren't as bad as the magic circle but the work remains good quality. Macfarlanes has recently encouraged working from home one day every fortnight for associates and partners in certain departments."
First year trainee, London
"Very dependent on which department you sit in; I am in property and am usually out of the office by 7.00 pm at the latest. I have not yet needed to be available for calls or emails on the weekend."
First year trainee, London
"I start at 8.30 am and generally finish by 8.30 pm. There are of course some days where I will stay much later, but that is the nature of the job!"
Second year trainee, London
"My hours have been really good for a City firm, but I am yet to work in a corporate or finance department. Macfarlanes have just started a flexible working policy where everyone is encouraged to work from home once a fortnight, but it's not available to trainees. I don't ever feel pressured to stay if I have nothing urgent to do."
First year trainee, London
"The firm can be quite flexible. But for those of us in transactional departments it does grate that we work hours not far off US firms, but are well behind on pay."
First year trainee, London
"My work hours are pretty long. This can be pretty tough at times. There's not an insistence on it, and my supervisor has shown they are concerned that I go home when I can and do not overload on work. I think it just goes with the territory."
First year trainee, London
"I am in a seat that is notorious for bad hours (admittedly everywhere, not just at Macfarlanes), but when I work late I am welcome to come in later the following morning. Time off in lieu is not uncommon either. It's long days but I think their approach is fair, and you do feel the appreciation for your time."
First year trainee, London
"Varies by department and workload. Corporate, mergers and acquisitions and banking tend to have longer hours (as is common across the City), but these do not go unappreciated. Other departments offer different balances. Departments are generally good at accommodating holiday requests."
Second year trainee, London
"The firm has recently introduced flexible working; one day every two weeks allowed at home (but not for trainees). Hours have been fine on the whole, with the usual peaks and troughs. Most departments thank you for putting in a slog."
Second year trainee, London

2015

"Personally, I believe that my working hours are better than Magic Circle firms, and on average I work from 9:00am-7:00pm and have a half hour lunch break."
First year trainee, London
"Working hours are not consistently high, they tend to fluctuate so you can go through particularly bad periods but then have a month of working from 9:00am-5:00pm. Flexibility is there but has to be requested; and there is a lot of respect for holidays/personal commitments."
Second year trainee, London
"There are relatively long hours to be expected, as with most City firms, but working hours vary from department to department, and there isn't a culture of 'face-time' and the firm is reasonably flexible as long as the work gets done."
Second year trainee, London
"It depends on the department and how busy the firm is generally, but normally if you've been working hard the firm is very good at giving you time to cool off for a few weeks."
Second year trainee, London
"There is a lot of flexibility if you have an important event or a medical appointment. I have only had to cancel a day off once and that is because we were due to complete a deal."
First year trainee, London
"The difficulty is not knowing if something big/urgent could land on your desk at 6:00pm meaning that you suddenly have a late night. Each department is different, but there is a culture of 'if you're not busy, leave when you can'. I don't ever feel forced to stay late just to have more 'face-time'."
First year trainee, London
"Working hours depend on the department. Generally as a trainee it's been fine for me: on average I get in between 8:30-9:00am, and leave between 7:00-8:00pm. Working from home is not commonly done at trainee level, but can be done in case of an emergency or if it's very late and can be done from home. You have to take the initiative and ask for it though."
Second year trainee, London
"Working hours can alter with the ebb and flow of transactions...but they are never crazy, and staff are always understanding in the event of personal conflict."
Second year trainee, London

2014

"Hours are very mixed depending on department. Corporate can be very long hours but also when you're not busy there is no 'face-time'. Generally I leave between 6:30pm and 8:00pm."
Second year trainee, London
"The hours are pretty flexible and there's absolutely no 'face-time' culture at Macfarlanes."
First year trainee, London
"Work hours are reliant upon the department you are sat in. However, the firm is very understanding of other commitments and has a culture of no 'face-time'."
First year trainee, London
"Generally if you need to be somewhere else you can be. It's rare to be too overworked and there is normally some sort of day/week off to compensate if it happens."
Second year trainee, London
"By and large I have found hours to be very flexible and Macfarlanes is certainly not as much of a slave-driver as, by reputation, other City firms can be. Of course it depends on where you are on your deals, but I have found my supervisor to be very understanding when I’ve had an important engagement."
First year trainee, London
"I've found that hours depend on the supervisor, but if you have a doctor's appointment, etc. then they are generally quite flexible."
Second year trainee, London
"I think that hours are reasonably flexible but very project dependent - there is no problem going home if no deadlines are coming up. As a trainee I've found it difficult to decline work which may be given at the last minute."
First year trainee, London
"My average day is from 8:45am to 8:30pm. Hours are not monitored formally, but you are expected to get your work done and if that means staying then you're expected to stay."
First year trainee, London
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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