Linklaters retains 47 of 51 NQ lawyers

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City’s top TC provider scores 92%

Linklaters has posted a trainee retention score of 92% for the autumn 2022 season.

From a hefty qualifying cohort of 51, the magic circle player confirmed 47 trainees were staying on in permanent associate roles. Links is the largest TC provider in the City, recruiting around 100 rookies annually across two intakes.

The firm’s trainee development partner, Richard Hodgson, commented:

“A huge congratulations to our UK September qualifiers. We’re proud to have such a high-performing group of bright and diverse talent embark on the next phase of their careers with us. With exceptional development opportunities, tailored support and inspiring clients and colleagues, I look forward to seeing them realise their ambitions and reach their full potential at Linklaters.”

Applications are open for the Legal Cheek September UK Virtual Law Fair 2022

The Legal Cheek Firms Most List 2022 shows final seat trainees will see their salaries move from £55,000 to £107,500 upon qualification.

Links becomes the third member of the MC to post its autumn rate, with Clifford Chance and Freshfields recording scores of 84% (42 out of 50) and 89% (32 out of 36).

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Annoyed trainee

That’s great. Now up pay.


MC to US associate

How many will be gone in 6-12 months for US firms? If you’re in a transactional department at Linklaters, you won’t be living a much better life than those at US firms. And on almost half the pay…



To think the firm went from Tony Angel’s “clear blue water” strategy in the early 2000s (so good that it’s taught in Harvard Business School to this day) – i.e. cementing itself as the best global English law firm to today where PEP is stagnating versus rivals and it can’t even match the salaries of silver circle firms…



They can afford to match what they can’t afford to do however is drastically raise the salary bands of qualified associates. Poor old Linkys – no worries they will always still be a legion of undergrads applying to them nevertheless.



is this of any interest to anyone?


No. Just no.

Alleges retention of 47 of 51 – but 47 are also in the market looking for alternative roles. Many of them will land a role elsewhere in the next couple of months (or have already, but they either haven’t yet told the firm or the firm hasn’t included them in updated figures), and won’t show up to bat.
And then many of them just want the qualification badge at the firm they trained with, and a slither of the original number will still be there in 6-12 months.
Meanwhile no lateral would ever want to move there who has options.

Feeding this figure to Legal Cheek feels like denial. Or “we don’t need to up salaries because we’re so good”. Feel weird, arrogant, and manipulative. Links is the butt of a bad joke in the market.



It is drastically overselling the state of the problem, this – 70% of my intake still there three years in. Of course there is attrition, that’s built in to the training business model of almost all big UK firms, the idea that the majority then fly within a year is simply not true.


Truth hurts

‘the idea that the majority then fly within a year is simply not true’.

Historically maybe, but post-covid and with these new pay wars and the likes of HSF and even Bakers (not to even mention the proper US firms) paying more, there is no reason to stick around.

I think new recruits will have very different ideas now..


tired bill

Are you really suggesting that someone with an NQ offer at Linklaters would drop it in favour of an NQ offer at HSF or Baker McKenzie? Or even FF/CC?

If so, would you mind finding us examples of this UK firm to UK firm exodus that is allegedly happening?

Oh, right, you’re a vacation schemer with too much time on your hands.



Agreed – almost all of my peers who have left and stayed in private practice have either gone to US firms or much smaller and/or niche career-change practices. Barely anyone I know has gone directly UK-UK corporate law.

Truth is Excruciating

Further to Truth Hurts’ post, the 70% figure you note is either untrue, miscalculated or anomaly:

The September 2018 retention figure at Linklaters was c.70%, in March 2019, it was c.80%, and in September 2019, it was c.90%. These figures in 2022 are close to again c.90%.

So to suggest anyway that a % loss of 0-20% over 3 years is an incredibly intriguing claim open to some scrutiny.

And to throw your alleged historical figure into the mix into a present context where Linklaters’ rivals are now paying c.20k more (not just magic circle, but silver circle like HSF and Macs (when you take into account non-discretionary bonus), and even less than firms like Bakers, and where US firms are paying around 60-70k more – and that’s that just at the junior end….is misleading to say the least.

But it gets worse. Because now Linklaters is expecting the same chargeable hours expectations as the rest of its market which has been driven up over the last few years to c.1800-2000. Firms in the same ballpark like Simmons pay 100k – probably soon to up to 105-110k when they announce – and have expectations of 1650. The trade off of a few thousand which is going 100% into pension anyway in exchange for a few hundred hours of your life back is a trade most people would prefer to make. Also if they hit target at a mid market and don’t at Links for whatever reason due to higher expectations, they’ll make more anyway compensated by a bigger bonus.


A Disappointed Snake

*a sliver of the original number

I exssspected better from wannabe lawyersss!



Firstly I’m not a wannabe trainee. So f you.

Secondly, it is acceptable in British English to use slither as a synonym for sliver, not so in American English. There are a few English dictionaries which define slither as a noun British informal synonym for sliver. And if you read any books, it’s actually common in some British authored books, published by Random House or Penguin. Even if there was linguistic controversy over it, it’s the least interesting observation one might make.

It’s one of those things where you’re trying to be funny and clever by making people think you’ve spotted a linguistic error, when in fact you haven’t. It’s just one of those things like where someone puts on olive oil on their face thinking they’re being really smart and good at skincare. People then turn around and say why are you so bothered about me recommending olive oil for your face, you seem agitated. But I’m seething because it’s so dumb and bullshit.



Links is now firmly at the bottom of the MaGiC CiRCle. Sad but true.


RIP Magic Dust

Well not quite the very bottom. A&O is contesting that. Fiercely.



Wait so lower pay gets higher retention %. What a stud!!


Fab Five Freddy

You gotta look at the bigger picture, kid.

Most of those retained are very much still
In touch with recruiters and within the next year, subject to major economic turmoil changing the hiring market landscape, at least 50% of those NQs will lateral.

Retention rates are increasingly a misleading characteristic of how well a firm is perceived by NQs as the practice of jumping ship shortly after qualifying is prevalent, and makes sense. Why go through the stressful gamble of either getting external roles or internal ones, within a set timeframe, when you can comfortably get an internal job, prove to all future recruiters and employers that a law firm has deemed you ‘worthy’ of being made an offer, and then work on jumping ship on your own schedule.

The truth is that retention rates are now useless unless we also get a ‘one year later’ picture of how many PQE1s actually stay with the firm they qualify at.



Any danger of legal cheek reporting slaughter’s 98% retention – been announced for the last week or so



Is transactional work pipeline slowing at Links or other MCs? Just don’t understand if there is any sign of “economic challenging conditions” as the Links management stated in their emails…



Public debt markets completely shut at the moment


tired bill

Yes. The fact that you’re even asking this shows that you’re a fresher with zero information about what’s going on. This fall in deal volumes is affecting every firm with a big corporate/finance presence, it’s not just an MC issue.

If you had a subscription to Debtwire/Creditflux/MM, you’d be able to dissect this further.


LL Assoc

Cap markets and restructuring is dead. Banking and corporate are ludicrously busy for this time of year. Litigation always busy.


Genuine Question

Links and A&O seem to have been dogpiled on Legal Cheek following the salary freeze announcements but given the nature of anonymous commenting I’m not sure whether this sentiment is coming from actual lawyers, let alone lawyers at these firms? Can someone clarify whether the salary freeze outrage and predictions of an exodus of biblical proportions actually have weight – or are LegalCheek comments just an echo chamber of future trainees?



You’d be surprised-one of my vac scheme supervisors (2 Yr PQE) said he does find the comments section rather entertaining (and also RollonFriday) so I wouldn’t be so sure it’s just future trainees…


A&O veteran

Wrong – I’m a current A&O senior associate and have commented here and there. Having said that I’m considering my offers from two US firms after a 6-week job hunt and would probably jump boat as the £65k sign-on is too tempting…


Dentons 5PQE

I am also a very frequent commenter on LC whether its to try to deliver insight, give people a laugh or wind people up.



It doesn’t matter what someone is if they make a logical point.

Links and A&O are paying behind their competitors, and behind firms which are supposed to be a chasing pack to them. What’s hard to understand about that, or the fact that at Links / A&O targets and/or expectations and/or reality dictates that associates bill 1800-2000+ hours, on par with other magic circle firms, which pay more; and around the same, but on average slightly less, hours than American firms which pay almost double.

What’s also hard to understand that associates across the market want to enjoy pay rises to compensate for (i) stagnated compensation for about a decade between 2005-2015 based on the collusion of a select few firms at the top (including A&O and Links), and the chasing pack of silver circle firms; and (ii) significantly higher costs of living and house prices which have pretty much doubled. What’s hard to understand that associates see through the total transparent bullsh1t lies they’re peddling to try to control the market and to keep PEP inflated – which is now about £2 mill. The firms can afford it, they simply can, and they’re working associates hard – most of them aren’t taking a hit at all, they’re upping associates billable rates, and making them work longer hours which those associates are increasingly prepared to do as more motivated underlings for the better $$$, creaming even more money for the firm which is leading to better PEP.

I’m an associate, and I’ve got nothing better to do but reply to you at 1am apparently, but still grow a brain…



I commented and I’m ex-Links. The outrage is justified and my pals at Links were boiling over with rage.


tired bill

It’s an echo chamber and the predicted number of departures has already been factored in by the big shots. I wouldn’t be surprised if A&O and LL made the decision that they have 5% more lawyers than they need and are expecting about that proportion to leave.

No one would leave before September anyway, given that both firms pay their bonuses around this time of year, and that recruiting tends to slow down in August. We may see a small spike of departures in September or October.

Note that A&O and LL continue to pay their mid to senior lawyers more than their SC counterparts, so there simply isn’t a salary reason – or indeed a career development reason – to leave. This is the problem of focusing on NQ salaries.

FWIW: junior lawyers reading LC when bored =/= junior lawyers posting on LC. You can tell that most comments are written by children from their maturity and their willingness to talk in absolutes and extremes (“MC dead”, etc.)



Links pays annual bonuses in June, not sure where you got September from…



LL pays in June.


2PQE MC escapee

LC-era, seeking honest feedback on the following US:

— Weil
— Sidley
— Akin Gump
— Paul Hastings
— Goodwin
— W&C


US associate

Unless one is particularly strong in your practice area, suggest you preference in the following order:

1. Goodwin
2. Akin Gump
3. Paul Hastings
4. Sidley
5. Weil
6. W&C


US bystander

Depends on practice areas –

Finance – Weil / Paul
Corporate – Goodwin
Regulatory – Sidley
US finance – AG



With the exception of W&C the rest all pay cravath rates with varying exchange rate. AG pays the most as a result of the recent spot rate adjustment but the hours are terribly long as one would expect.


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