Nearly a third of magic circle trainees went to Oxbridge

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This despite making up less than 1% of each year’s graduating class

Nearly a third of magic circle rookies went to Oxbridge, new research has revealed.

The findings, based on interviews with 2,500 trainees over the past three years, show that 31% of trainee solicitors at the elite fivesome — Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields, Linklaters and Slaughter and May — completed an undergraduate degree at Oxford or Cambridge. This comes despite Oxbridge students making up less than 1% of each year’s graduating class.

Russell Group grads, excluding Oxbridge, made up 47% of magic circle trainees, while 13% came from other UK institutions and 9% studied overseas.

The research, compiled by Chambers Student Guide, also highlights the superduo’s dominance across the City’s mega-paying US firms, with 24% of trainees boasting Oxbridge credentials. Fifty percent of US trainees attended a Russell Group uni, 17% studied at another UK institution, while 9% completed their undergrad degree overseas.

The 2019 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

The new (and perhaps unsurprising) stats, come amid a mini-summer pay war which has seen all five magic circle players up junior lawyer pay packages to over £100,000. Despite hefty uplifts, US firms, however, continue to dominate pay proceedings, Legal Cheek‘s Firms Most List showing the likes of Akin Gump, Debevoise & Plimpton and Kirkland & Ellis, dishing out salaries northwards of £143,000 a year.

Elsewhere, the findings show that Oxford supplied the most trainee solicitors between 2016-2018 (7.9%), with Cambridge (7.5%) and Durham (6.2%) in second and third spot, respectively. Bristol placed fourth with 5.5%.

Commenting on the findings, Sal Francis Morton, senior research analyst at Chambers Student Guide, said:

“Law firms lock their gaze on graduates from these prestigious universities, knowing they don’t have to look far for the brightest and most driven candidates. Since employability is a factor in a university’s status and funding, this is a convenient relationship for both the firms and the universities, so it’s hard to break.”

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Simone Burns

For anyone seeking new chambers, there is a position available at Albion Chambers. I have recently left.



So, who’d have thought it? The cleverest and best educated people end up in the top jobs.



I have TC offers from Pinsent Masons, Clifford Chance and Linklaters. Which one would you train at? About me: studied at world leading university and BAME.



The bigger takeaway should be that most are coming from non-Oxbridge Russell Groups. LegalCheek should be highlighting that so that people who perhaps didn’t quite make it into Oxbridge aren’t unduly pessimistic about their graduate prospects.



At a firm where PEP is, say, £1 million, how much does a partner actually get?



non story




I have training contract offers from Pinsent Mason, Clifford Chance and Linklaters. About me: BAME, top 5 uni, poor and determined but not uptight.



Pinsent Mason is the clear winner. Top top firm.



God, this talk of ‘top 5 uni’ is so depressingly American.



Oh boo hoo, stop crying because you can’t get a decent job after graduating from London Metropolitan University with a 2.2 in Colouring. Quite frankly, you’re misguided if you bothered going to a university that’s not in the top thirty unless you studied a vocational degree or a STEM subject.

Supply and demand will (and should if we live in a free society) will always prevail. Of course an employer will always opt for a history graduate with a 2.1 from the University of Oxford over a history graduate from a sub-par former polytechnic.

Tony Blair did such a disservice to this country by encouraging everyone to go to university. It’s just created the illusion of inequality.



And by calling Polys, Unis. Polys they will always be to me as I send the CV’s straight to recycling.


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