Linklaters in-house tech start-up takes on firm trainees

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Six-month seat option forms part of magic circle outfit’s training contract programme

Linklaters‘ in-house tech start-up is taking on trainees, it has emerged.

Nakhoda is the magic circle firm’s legal tech hub, launched in 2015, with the aim of using technology to solve legal problems.

It has begun to take on trainees for six-month secondments that form a part of the firm’s standard training contract rotation.

The training seat was initially scheduled to start in September 2020 but went forward earlier than planned in March 2020 due to lockdown restrictions.

It is open to all of the firm’s trainees and they are chosen based on factors including their skills, experience and qualification interest. With only one seat available every six months, Links’ trainee lot (which at 100 each year is the highest in the City) face some pretty stiff competition.

During the seat, trainees, or ‘product managers’, learn how to code and develop new software for Nakhoda. They can get involved in marketing and be trained on how to pitch a tech product for sale.

Hamza Zaveri was the first trainee to join Nakhoda. He took part during his fourth seat and recently qualified in the firm’s capital markets practice. During his time at the start-up, Zaveri, who has produced a tech and innovation-themed podcast, got to grips with coding and product design.

“I really enjoyed working with developers and understanding the way they think and approach problems, including learning the coding jargon,” he said of his experience. “I liaised with clients and did some product demos which was also a useful skill to develop and I also managed to get involved in marketing and branding as that’s something I personally have a passion for.”

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Agata Siuchninska is the second and current Nakhoda trainee. She will soon be joining the firm’s capital markets practice and has learnt how to code as well helped to digitise a number of documents relating to LIBOR reform.

“[A]s the only trainee on the team, you get to work on pretty much all aspects of the product development process from helping out with the initial conception of a feature to assisting engineers with investigating bugs in the code,” she said.

Nakhoda’s CEO, Shilpa Bhandarkar, told Legal Cheek about the value trainees bring to the team. “The trainee secondment to Nakhoda has given us a fresh pair of eyes and perspective which has made for better product design, especially in the run-up to the launch of our new digital contracting platform — CreateiQ.”

She continued:

“For young lawyers interested in technology, it has given them hands on experience of building a technology solution, both on the technical side but also to become embedded in the ‘start-up’ way of working — such as through daily stand-ups or working in ‘sprints’. For our trainee development team, it complements our wider training around technology and innovation with hands-on experience. So a win-win all around.”

The seat builds on the firm’s wider innovation agenda, which includes schooling its trainees on legal tech as part of a new curriculum designed in partnership with Swansea University that launched last year. The six modules, on topics ranging from blockchain to smart contracts, were initially rolled out to the firm’s trainees before becoming a staple in its training contract, and available to its lawyers more widely.

City law firms Addleshaw Goddard and DWF have launched lawtech training seats in recent years.

Magic circle firms Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy have gone one step further with the launch of lawtech training contracts.

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how is it that the US firms don’t have any of this crap and still have large and equally or more profitable ECM practices?



Magic Circle and SC and other UK city firms are finding ways to offer trainees ‘new and different and exciting’ things to try and make up for the pay gap.

It obviously won’t work. I’m sure everyone would rather accept an extra 50k a year than these wishy washy perks and schemes at work



Speak for yourself. I derive endless esteem from knowing that I am at the forefront of legal innovation and delivering pioneering solutions for our clients. You American desk monkeys can enjoy your extra 50k (it’s only £2,000 per month extra post tax anyway) while I’m enjoying the great company of the lads in the tech hub.


Iron Knee

Can’t tell if this is supposed to be ironic



Firms are offering things like this which in the long run will have no beneficial value to trainees whatsover. It is simply just a way to sound different and unique on paper.

Aspiring law studnets will see stuff like this and instantly fall for the trap but it is just a marketing strategy more than anything else.


Nathaniel H

Completely agree.

It is the same as the Clifford Chance tech training contract.

Firms are offering things like this just for the sake of being different.


SFG associate

Definitely has nothing to do with the fact there are now too many trainees in the London office following the covid-induced lack of secondments…



Considering it’s literally 1 trainee per seat rotation I doubt this is a real consideration



I could see this being useful if a trainee is firm on being a tech lawyer (to get an idea of computer science), but regardless, the benefit is negligible as you won’t be writing codes in your day to day work. For other Trainees, it would make no sense to do this if you plan on qualifying in a completely different department.



if they want to be a tech lawyer they would gain a better CV by actually sitting in an actual TMT/IP/Venture Capital etc seat. Not doing this crap


Future trainee at another MC firm

Still wouldn’t train at Links




Any downsides are shared by all other MC firms

You’ve clearly just spammed the upvote button



I wrote one of the first comments in the comments section so I came back on the page several times to see any replies and counter comments on my comment and I have to say no one spammed the uplike button on this particular comment, it’s been going up gradually every time I came back to the page.

Just because it’s a MC firm doesn’t mean everyone thinks it’s a good firm. It’s not impossible that 31 people agree. There are several hundreds of people who read these articles each day lol.


Not the OP but...

Full of chippy 2.1s. Zero academic selection. I know someone with a 59 (high 2.2) from Warwick who’s coming close to finishing their training contract there. Any firm that lets people like that in is not worth training at.



Oh no. What a loss.



What a gimmick . Why would you sacrifice a proper qualification option to do this


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