Linklaters isn’t for the faint-hearted. But there are few more prestigious places to begin a legal career. The firm consistently scores well for training in the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey, but it can be a demanding environment. Such standards are likely why the firm recorded yet another year of solid financial results, with revenues of £1.67 billion and profit per equity partner (PEP) increasing almost 10% to £1.77 million.
The firm’s healthy numbers come during a period of change across its upper ranks. Charismatic senior partner and deal-maker Charlie Jacobs, who formerly headed the firm’s reputable corporate practice, moved over to banking titan JP Morgan in February 2021. He was replaced by global corporate head Aedamar Comiskey, who in turn became the first woman to lead the firm in its 183-year history. Meanwhile, capital markets partner Paul Lewis was installed as managing partner, succeeding Gideon Moore, who held the role since 2016.
There’s a prevailing atmosphere of kinship among trainees, with many developing friendships while studying together on the LPC. “For all that people say about the MC, not a bad group of people here. They do have my back, don’t think I would be let down here,” one insider tells us. Another Links rookie informs us they work alongside “a great bunch of people” but warns that it can be “very group dependant”. In the past the battle to secure the glamorous international secondments is said to have been quite intense, but has taken place more peacefully in recent years with most getting their first choices (Abu Dhabi, Brussels and Singapore are just some of the destinations up for grabs). This year international secondments have been impacted by Covid, although we hear some went ahead remotely.
The work is a mixture of the intellectually challenging and the mindless that prevails at most elite firms. “Sometimes trainees are given fantastic opportunities to take on meaningful work. At other times, the work can be mundane, and it makes you ask yourself, ‘Why did I go to law school just to do this?’”. Another spy offers this Trumpesque summary: “Very stimulating. Very demanding. Great deals.”
Work/life balance is what you’d expect from a firm dishing out an NQ salary of £100k. “Incredibly unpredictable as a trainee,” one respondent explains. “I can do nothing until 4pm and then get hit by a load of work just as you’re thinking of logging off.” But much can depend on the practice area, suggests another insider: “Certain groups like TMT/IP and corporate have a very clear pressure to always be highly utilised, with ends at midnight regular and quiet days non-existent (offering a scary glimpse into NQ life). Other groups offer a better balance and encourage trainees and associates to enjoy quiet periods and not worry about their overall average.”
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. “If you can stomach hanging out with lawyers for another few hours a week, people tend to be pretty fun. Loads of events and away days,” another insider tells us.
Links makes up for its demanding nature with some of the perkiest perks the City has to offer. 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 — called ‘Silks’ — is the sort of upmarket foodhall more usually associated with lunching in Chelsea or Beverly Hills. WFH goodies and vouchers also appear to have gone down well with the firm’s junior ranks.
Oh, and there is fantastic gear to keep you billing: standing/adjustable desks, lumbar support, ergonomic/wireless keyboards with mouse wrist rests, dual screens and deluxe stationery. This has translated to WFH: Linklaters lawyers were delighted to receive Surface Pro tablets, Yoga laptops and iPhones, while the firm also dished out £200 expense vouchers to cover additional kit. But the uptick in remote lawyering has brought both positives and negatives. The firm announced a new agile working policy allowing staff — subject to certain criteria — the opportunity to work remotely for up to 20-50% of their working week. Around the same time the firm offered voluntary redundancy packages to all 225 of its London secretaries and business team PAs.