The Legal Cheek View
Linklaters isn’t for the faint-hearted. But there are few more prestigious places to begin a legal career. The firm scores an A* for training in the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey, but it can be a demanding environment. While the training materials and seminars are said to be “top quality”, what really sets the Links training experience apart is the instruction from people who are “technically brilliant with absolute dedication to excellence”. Not that they’re without a human side. “I call my supervisor dad,” quips one of the firm’s trainees.
There’s a prevailing atmosphere of kinship among trainees, with many developing friendships while studying together on the LPC. “On the whole you don't feel like you're always competing with the others,” one insider tells us, but another adds that there can be “a bit of stepping on others to get ahead”. The battle to secure the plum international secondments is said to be particularly “Hunger Games-esque” (although overall around two thirds of trainees get to go abroad, which are odds that Katniss Everdeen would probably take). Seats in Hong Kong are said to be in particularly high demand.
The work is a mixture of the intellectually challenging and the mindless that prevails at most magic circle firms. One rookie pithily sums it up: “Half drudgery half stimulating – relative to other law firms think that's basically brill.” Trainees who prove themselves find that better quality work keeps coming their way.
Work/life balance veers on the side of work, with an average leave team of 8:26pm. But this tends to be in line with expectations. The unpredictability is the hard part, suggests one trainee:
“Done a decent shift of late nights when deals reach the ‘crunch’ point in transactional seats, but this is always noted and made easier by the fact that the end (closing) is in sight. Admittedly difficult to make weekday plans as often unclear whether you'll be out at 6, 7 or 10 (a frustrating situation sees you doing no work from 9-12), only for a deluge to appear at 4pm, but you get used to this. Some weekend work done, but this is generally pretty rare.”
Socially, there’s a ‘work hard play hard’ vibe, with “the Australian and US lawyers leading the charge” on nights out. But Linklaters is apparently “getting much better at having a range of socials (i.e. not all involve booze)”.
The firm makes up for its demanding nature with some of the best perks around. There’s an in-house gym and fitness centre that is completely free – and has boutique hotel standards of towels and toiletries, and even hair straighteners. A firm doctor, meanwhile, is on hand to see to employees’ needs. The canteen is the sort of upmarket foodhall more usually associated with lunching in Chelsea or Beverly Hills. Oh, and there is great gear to keep you billing: standing/adjustable desks, lumbar support, ergonomic/wireless keyboard with mouse wrist rests, dual screens and deluxe stationary.
Those who thrive in this world stand to make big money: Links’ most recent profit per equity partner figure is £1.45 million. But expect a ferocious battle to reach such dizzying heights.