Work less, earn less: Linklaters offers lawyers who want a life outside the office an ‘alternative career model’

The scheme is being piloted next month

Global giant Linklaters is offering its lawyers the option to work fewer hours for less cash.

‘YourLink’, which will be trialled across the firm’s four German offices from next month, will allow associates to pre-agree what time they arrive and leave the office.

Seen as an attractive alternative to the “classic Linklaters career path”, lawyers will work a standard 40-hour week and will not be expected to check emails (unless in exceptional circumstances) outside these pre-set times.

But this flexibility is reflected in lawyers’ salaries. While an associate in their first year of employment on the “classic” career path will earn €120,000 (£101,000), those punting for Linklaters’ more ‘work-life balance friendly’ option will pocket just €80,000 (£67,000). After this, salary increases on the ‘YourLink’ track will be based on “performance and seniority”.

The ‘YourLink’ route is open to both the firm’s new and more experienced lawyers, who have the option to revert back to the “classic” career track at anytime.

Commenting on the scheme, Linklaters’ head of human resources in Germany, Thomas Schmidt, said:

We see that alternative, flexible options are increasingly in demand. With ‘YourLink’ we want to offer outstanding talents a whole new career path.

But could ‘YourLink’ reach the magic circle player’s London office? As things stand, data collected by Legal Cheek shows Links’ London lawyers arrive at the office on average at 9.32am and leave at 8.26pm, which is in line with other top firms. But perhaps there could be the option to work shorter average hours once the pilot has concluded. A spokesperson for Linklaters’ London office said:

We are treating the German 40-hour week model as a pilot to understand how it works and how it might be adopted in other markets. It is an example of how we are trying to innovate with different types of flexible working to ensure we attract and retain the very best talent.

Today’s news comes just two weeks after UK-based research suggested that a whopping 90% of young lawyers have felt under “too much emotional or mental pressure” at work in the past month. Part of the Junior Lawyers Division’s ‘Resilience and wellbeing survey report’, 65% of respondents blamed their “high workloads” for the stress.

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43 Comments

Anonymous

I guess paying people less means you can hire more lawyers. In the long run, shouldn’t equate to anyone doing more work per hour than they do now

(9)(1)
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Anonymous

“lawyers will work a standard 40-hour week and will not be expected to check emails (unless in exceptional circumstances) outside these pre-set times.”

Yes, because it’s not lik every bullshit task is always urgent or due yesterday. Clearly the exceptional circumstances will be very rare in practice. But a nice try to pay people less and boost profits.

(28)(0)
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Anonymous

NQ’s earning £22k more in Germany than in London? Or lawyers working in Germany, doing a 40 hour week earning £10k less than NQ’s in London?

Surely the German offices don’t make more than the London Office and surely higher pay in Germany is not justified by higher living costs, in comparison to London?

(12)(2)
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Moira

Maybe the lawyers in Germany deserve the higher salary for being better at their job rather than just demanding because they’re based in London and think they deserve it 🙄

(17)(26)
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Anonymous

They spend far longer studying and qualifying than in the UK (typically between 7-10 years), so might be seen as more qualified/experienced compared to the UK model.

(29)(1)
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Anonymous

Agreed. Also, in many European countries, the number of qualifications you have is reflected in your salary. Someone with just a Bachelor’s would never in a month of Sundays make it to partner in a continental firm.

(7)(0)
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Anonymous

And that’s just a form of academic elitism that makes it even harder for working class people to get into the profession. So, for what it’s worth, thank god we don’t have a similar system over here.

(6)(5)
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Anonymous

They’re not paid “proper money” while doing their PhD. They’re paid peanuts for what is usually a part-time job as some professor’s personal footnote checker.

(0)(0)
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Anonymous

I could be wrong but I remember being told (by a German friend) that qualifying as a lawyer in Germany can easily take 7+ years due to a 5 or so years long bachelors equivalent followed by 2+ years of mandatory clerkships and state exams.
Given the relative speed of qualification in the UK, I can understand German associates receiving a bit more for having invested more time (and money).

(18)(0)
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Anonymous

Complete BS. Links pays the market rate in Germany. You see, there ARE European countries where lawyers are generally paid better than in London. If this shocks you, better don’t go look at what they’re paid in Switzerland (where the tax burden is so much lower than in Germany and the UK it essentially cancels out the higher living expenses).

(0)(0)
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Anonymous

Half our clerks earn more than that. Not suggesting it’s a poor salary, but if it’s a well-paid 9-6 job you want, where you can actually progress despite your short hours, I’d go with clerking over this.

(5)(0)
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Anonymous

If partnership isn’t your goal then get the hell out of the legal sector. You’re taking up space. Why on earth would you subject yourself to all this if your end goal isn’t to become a millionaire fatcat partner with two Range Rovers, a mansion in Surrey, a trophy wife that doesn’t love you, and privately-educated children you secretly hate? Don’t give me any of that “I am passionate about commercial law” crap.

Go work for a nonprofit or something, pussy.

(57)(14)
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Anonymous

The problem is that if you take this alternative path you will be doing less interesting, less complex and more voluminous work. You may get to 3 or 4 years’ PQE and will find that your skills are not as sharp as an equivalent lawyer on the traditional path. There will be limited progression opportunities given the overall shape and structure of law firms. You will be doing the same, less impressive, work forever.

(7)(2)
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Anonymous

Let’s not generalise please. People can take whatever options they think are best for them regardless of their parental status. A parent may be working fewer hours in the office, but that just means more hours at working at home. So, just because it’s career suicide in your opinion, for other people, it’s a chance to pursue other things.

(11)(1)
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Anonymous

Not only! In Germany they have this mentality that they work to live not live to work. People there generally less ambitious so mummies plus boring b*tches…

(0)(0)
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Scouser of Counsel

You would have more fun doing Legal Aid work, which would give you a similar income and hours after a few years on the job.

(5)(6)
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Anonymous

Is anybody else reading between the lines? This simply sounds like a way for Linklaters to justify reducing lawyer salaries if they haven’t hit their billable target in line with their ‘YourLink’ initiative.

(6)(1)
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Anonymous

There is no way on this earth that these people aren’t going to be expected to respond to emails and work outside their designated 40 hours. What a load of nonsense.

(3)(0)
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Anonymous

Shame it’s still pegged to number of hours worked, rather than amount of productive work achieved.

I wouldn’t mind betting the amount of work ACTUALLY done by those on the ‘YourLink’ will be very similar to those on the ‘traditional’ model.

Shame it’s already being written off in the comments here as being ‘career suicide’ for ‘pussies’ (with questionable degrees of irony). If that’s how you think, then you’re part of the problem.

(4)(0)
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