Linklaters redesigns training contract offer letter in bid to gain edge over rivals in hot graduate recruitment market

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Student response speed has increased as a result, says partner

The increasingly intense war for graduate talent being waged among top law firms has seen magic circle giant Linklaters redesign its training contract offer letter in a bid to gain an edge.

Linklaters — which offers 100 training contracts annually, more than any other UK law firm — brought in a design agency to help create the new letter in a project led by the firm’s innovation head Shilpa Bhandarkar.

Students and trainees were consulted on the process, with the end result moving away from a standard Microsoft Word document to something, in the words of Bhandarkar, “more upbeat, less legal-sounding and more welcoming”. Clear communication was prioritised in a format that gave greater prominence to Linklaters’ logo.

The new letter format was launched this summer. The result, according to Finn Griggs, the firm’s graduate recruitment partner, has been “an uplift in the speed of response to the new offer letters”.

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This may seem like a lot of fuss being made about what cynics may dismiss as cosmetic tinkering. But if it results in an increase in the number of training contract acceptances it will be worth it. Like other elite firms, Linklaters targets a small pool of star students, who typically receive several training contract offers. Competition to get these hot shots to sign on the dotted line has always been intense, but now it is even more so following the expansion of various US law firms’ London training contract programmes.

Despite a wave of magic circle pay rises, that has seen their newly qualified solicitor pay rates jump to combined bonus packages of around £100,000, US firms continue to outgun them on pay (several are paying upwards of £130,000).

The magic circle are essentially betting that such pay rates are unsustainable, and with the end of the economic cycle looming they may yet be proven right.

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This is news how?



because it’s an actual smart move to create a new way to compete


Latham NQ

UK firms are so desperate. Even the so-called magic circle are barely on a par with mid tier US firms these days.



Back to Tort Law



On your knees fresher.



Are the letters more transparent about how sweaty life is at the firm?



Anyone got the inside scoop on how it really is to work at Links? From what I’ve gathered so far at open days/evenings etc they attract real sycophants with an unusual superiority complex-despite being at the worst firm in the magic circle.



It’s very sweaty



It is obviously a PR stunt.



Thanks for this, Alex.

How much did Linklaters pay you for this advertising?



Is Links or FF harder to get into (3000 apps a year) than HSF (4000 apps a year and less total TCs)?



Use dem math skillz, you fool. Go for Links. Smallest Training Contract/Applications ratios.


MC Trainee

Idiot. People applying to Linklaters or Freshfields will be leagues ahead of those trying to get into HSF…



Why are HSF ‘cool’? Full of Oxbridge nerds.



Not sure I’d give a fuck what they put in the offer letter now that their managing partner has said he’s reluctant to pay their junior lawyers properly!


Future trainee US firm

Lmao if there was anyone hesitant about signing a TC but then saw some funky heading and subsequently becomes convinced – that person should not be getting a TC. Also lol at the US firm end of cycle thing. When was the last time a major firm cut salaries? Sure they could offer less TCs during a downturn but the places that remain will still be more desirable via higher salaries. Magic circle either need to pay up or start accepting the fact they’re not gonna get the best graduates anymore.



The last time major firms cut salaries was 2008, when most of the city did it…. the last time there was a major downturn.

And fewer TCs. Not less.



Messrs Linklater, Dods and Paine are all spinning in their graves.


The Anon

I like the way they refer to penultimate year law students as “hotshots”. Vast majority of the people I grew up with that were ‘hotshots’ at undergraduate level either don’t practise anymore or have next to no prospects of being partners wherever they are.

Also, MC firms aren’t ‘betting’ on anything. They just can’t afford to pay the US rates. The strategic decision makers aren’t somehow lurking behind the scenes waiting to pounce on a downturn just to sock it to the US firms and say I told you so.

Nonsense, nonsense legal journalism.



UK is dead. Long live the US.



They are wasting their time. The best students will all go to US firms


Kirkland NQ

My bros at Sidley, Kirkland, Weil and
Latham are so scared!!!




Aren’t you struggling to get a job at McDonalds with your 2:2?


Senior Associate

I remember having to choose between multiple TC offers during the ‘08 downturn.

Had offers from A&O in Arial size 11, HSF in Times New Roman size 12 and Nabarro in Garamond size 14. Took the latter obviously and never looked back. DAC Beachcroft invited me to an assessment centre once and the email text wasn’t even justified, so I hit delete without even reading it.

There was a time in 06/07 when Dewey LeBeouf were sending vac scheme offers in Calibri bold size 18, but even then I knew it was too good to be true.



Yawn. What an exciting life some people decide to lead.



‘Hotshots’? Total rubbish. The process goes something like this:

1. Study law at Oxford.
2. Progress to second year.
3. Get MC offer.
4. Profit.


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