Researching our quality of life special, we canvassed the top ten UK firms for details on their HR policies on parental leave and flexible working, as well as other support provided to improve the lives of all staff. Below are the results
‘What makes a photograph is the light – you’ve got to get everything else there, but if the light isn’t right it will never work.’
Freshfields senior partner Edward Braham has taken photographs all his life. The walls of his office are covered with photographs from his trips to South Africa, Paris, Kyoto and Tanzania. For this respected City corporate lawyer, photography is the hobby that ‘clears the brain’ when he takes time out.
‘Being open about my experience has not held back my career. If anything, it’s enhanced my relationship with my colleagues and clients.’
In 2015 Herbert Smith Freehills pension partner Samantha Brown suffered a depressive episode. She returned to work after three months, but found herself off again because she had not fully recovered. Brown eventually returned to practise as a partner at the firm.
‘It’s the stigma that stops people talking and that same stigma prevents anyone else from learning.’
In 2011, then Speechly Bircham partner Richard Martin suffered a major panic attack followed by a breakdown and almost two years of therapy. Having left City law, Martin now works for workplace and HR consultancy Byrne Dean, advising on mental health issues. For him, the stigma around mental health in the City has prevented people speaking out.
‘This is a hard career, but everything’s hard. Work hard, be the better you and enjoy yourself.’
In 2012 White & Case’s global private equity co-head Ian Bagshaw lost his younger brother, Dan, then aged just 27. He died suddenly on the finish line of an ITU Olympic distance triathlon in Hong Kong. That same year, while Bagshaw was a partner at Linklaters, his family set up Dan’s Trust to raise money for research and to help the local community.
‘We have a reasonable word-of-mouth reputation as purveyors of miserable music for gut-wrenching films.’
Many City lawyers have outside interests, few combine being at the very top of their profession with another career outlet. But Slaughter and May senior partner Steve Cooke is one such individual. Since 1993 the M&A veteran has worked with cartoonist Russell Taylor – famed for creating the comic strip Alex – to produce soundtracks for over 50 films and documentaries. Among others, they composed the music for Bafta-winning and Bafta-nominated documentaries such as The Lost Girls of South Africa, China’s Stolen Children, Chosen, Orphans of Nkandla, and the recent BBC series about Country Life magazine titled Land of Hope and Glory. Cooke plays and composes on the keyboards and guitar.