Linklaters becomes second Magic Circle player to embrace solicitor apprenticeships in London

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Will recruit up to six school leavers for September 2023

Linklaters has become the latest City law firm to embrace the solicitor apprenticeship pathway, taking up to six school leavers next September.

The six-year programme will see apprentices split their time between on-the-job training and their undergraduate legal studies for the first four years. In the final two they will join the firm’s main trainee cohort, during which time they will also complete the Solicitor’s Qualification Examination (SQE).

Successful applicants will be on track for AAB at A-Level and start on salary of £25,000.

The move sees Links become only the second member of the Magic Circle to offer the TC alternative in London, with Allen & Overy launching a similar programme earlier this year. Freshfields runs a solicitor apprenticeships scheme but from its Manchester hub, and these are only open to the legal support assistants based there.

The 2023 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

“We are committed to being home to the very best talent, regardless of background,” said Paul Lewis, firmwide managing partner. “The traditional route to a career in law can be out of reach of many talented students from low socio-economic backgrounds.”

Lewis continued:

“Through our new solicitor apprenticeship programme we will facilitate entry to the legal profession __ opening up access to talented and highly committed students who otherwise might never have had that opportunity. I’m looking forward to welcoming our first solicitor apprentices into the firm next year and to seeing them thrive in their careers.”

The Legal Cheek Firms Most List 2023 shows Links is one of the largest recruiter of trainees solicitors in the UK, with an annual intake of 100.

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For the sake of £1,700 a month, you might as well go to uni and have some fun for a bit before working at such a snoozefest firm



But it’s not just £1700 a month income.

Law degree costs at least £9k tuition fees + rent and living expenses. In London that means an undergraduate law degree costs minimum £25k per year. For 3 year undergrad you’re looking at £75k.

Not many have that sort of money knocking about and not many would want to have that sort of debt in student loans with absurd interest rates.


(*Jeff is) Boring

Tuition fees really shouldn’t be thrown into this equation. It’s not a case of someone ‘not having the money knocking around’ as most take out the loan for it which, as pretty much everyone understands, isn’t exactly a loan in the typical sense.

Secondly, yes people won’t have the money knocking about for rent & living expenses, but thankfully SLC means test (which I disagree with, but that’s an entirely different topic)

If I had the choice between earning a little bit of money for a few years but being bored out my nut by the time I’m 21, or going to uni, having a great time and simply having to pay a bit extra tax (which is all it is), I know what I’d pick…


Grizzled Lev Fin

Oh do stop it, it’s completely false to equate student loans with any other traditional form of debt.

If I want to buy a car and finance it, then yes, your argument makes sense. I should consider whether I can make the repayments, whether it is right for me.

But in the case of university tuition loans, it is wrong to treat it as such. If you always earn under a certain amount, you won’t have to pay any of it back. It’s not like a car loan where you’re on the hook, it’s in effect a graduate tax. If you choose to become a priest, you’ll never have to repay the money – it’s not a traditional form of debt.

The reason I think its such a dangerous comparison for you to make (it’s the same argument I made back in 2014-17 when I was at uni for my law degree), is that it scares poor people off going to university unnecessarily, because they think it is a gamble as to whether they will get a career that can pay the debt back.

Don’t get me wrong, you should only go to university if it will help you get a job at the end of it, but it isn’t fair to imply that you should only do a law degree if you are likely to get a traditional TC



Great idea – the solicitor apprentices I have worked with are almost uniformly more hardworking and competent than trainees.

Law as an academic subject is about as far from legal practice as you can get so I don’t think they are missing out on any otherwise obtainable skills. Look at the amount of arts graduates who have become lawyers and tell me an LLB is a prerequisite to being a good lawyer. It’s not like it’s quicker than a degree either.

Good on Linklaters!



“Great idea – the solicitor apprentices I have worked with are almost uniformly more hardworking and competent than trainees.”

I would be interested to know the details of this given solicitor apprentices have often just left school whereas trainees tend to be a bit older?



At my firm several have been around for a few years and have quite a bit of experience assisting in most transactions in the practice area. Imagine a relatively good paralegal who is driven and was smart enough to go to a good university if they wanted to, and you have solicitor apprentices.



Is this not just what CILEx have been doing for years and have been ridiculed amongst the profession for? It’s great to see apprenticeships finally being taken seriously as an avenue into law. Its a significant development for those who don’t want to, or for personal reasons can’t, take the traditional routes.




Randomer here at a small-ish US firm (think a single-figure total trainee intake per year).

It wasn’t very long at all into the contact when the differences between MC and typical US firms (i.e. not Latham), which frequently crop up in the comments and which I used to dismiss, became painfully apparent. I am talking of course about the non-existence of formal training and anything resembling a culture.

Having moved a few seats on by now the initial disappointment has mellowed, but I am now seriously concerned that with qualification far too close for comfort I will simply be far less competent than other NQs (which given I’m looking at contentious practices is actually important — I won’t just be editing loan agreements). I joined for the money but now feel a bit foolish if I’ve sacrificed the chance to have actual legal ability for it.

Nobody else in the team trained at the firm we’re at, and while I’d say I get on with them/they’re nice people, I can’t help but feel there’s something ironic about a potential NQ who’s trained at an associate’s or partner’s previous firms likely being far technically better than me.

Am I just being paranoid or is this reality which I ignored for so long?! I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more associates in US firms that trained in the regions or on the high street than at US firms themselves, but maybe this is stating the obvious.

Help me LC, you’re my only hope!



glad it’s not just me lmao, my advice is to reach out to a few recruiters and let them do some work for you… rest assured you won’t be the first or only NQ in the city to feel underqualified, you’ll make it dw


MC fake lifer

About 10 years ago, I moved as a 1PQ from US Firm to the MC for exactly the reasons you describe.

Never looked back and actually far preferred the ‘powerhouse’ nature of the MC and all the stuff you get in return for the pay cut (support lawyers, know-how calls which aren’t at 1am about the US market, an actual precedent bank rather than just looking at PLC) plus the trimmings of being in an HQ office (onsite gym, massive canteen, culture of 100+ other trainees/NQs around the same level to get to know).

I wouldn’t bother if you were 5PQ+, and might think twice if you can get the same culture plus the pay at a US firm with a big London presence (Latham) , but as far as a having more of comfort blanket in terms of legal skills training plus greater options if you drop out of private practice there is still something to be said for the MC or even SC firms in that respect.


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