This City legend provides a strong link between a legal degree and legal practice with “the best possible training" according to trainees.
Linklaters training contract review 2024
With 160 trainees on its books, the last thing we expected to hear about Linklaters was how personal the trainee experience was. But that was precisely what drew them to this historic firm: “People take the time to me make you feel valued, and invested in.” Those who had done the vac scheme explained: “On vac schemes at other firms, people had an attitude of ‘I’m part of the firm, but you’re on the outside.’ At Linklaters, everyone wanted to give you the best shot.” For some of the firm’s international trainees, who wondered if they could transition to one of the offices closer to home at some point, “Links was the most accommodating,” we heard. “The firm said: ‘so long as you’re part of the Linklaters team we’re happy to accommodate you.’ With 29 offices worldwide, it’s not hard to find a Linklaters office overseas.
Proving these international bases aren’t just satellites, Chambers Global has awarded the firm a host of rankings for its multi-jurisdictional work, including projects, corporate/M&A, competition, capital markets and banking and finance. The firm, meanwhile, has earned more than 50 accolades Chambers UK in London and UK-wide, with nearly half of them at the very top.
In London, trainees rank five or six seats from one to ten per rotation. While there aren’t any compulsory seats, “when you put in your rankings, you have to put into the ranking system at least three starred seats.” And those are? “The bigger departments like disputes, corporate, and energy and infrastructure.” Sources explained that “the allocation system is done by AI. You feed in all the choices and it spits out a result. And that’s the result.” International secondments– like Stockholm, Hong Kong and Singapore - are allocated in a similar vain: “We get a list of secondment opportunities,” sources explained, “and we strike off the ones we don’t want.” Trainees can also do a pro bono secondment, client secondment and spend their fourth seat in the London office.
“Trainees will rarely have a background in this work, so Links spends a lot of time training you.”
The firm’s capital markets offering is divided into three departments: equity and debt markets, derivatives and structured products, and structured finance. We were told the latter is a very common destination for first-seaters: “Trainees will rarely have a background in this work, so Links spends a lot of time training you, which sets you up for success.” The work itself “is a good blend of law and finance work, but basically it does anything under the finance umbrella; some banking, some corporate.” Another source added: “Because the work requires so much background in terms of understanding things, you spend a lot of time learning the documents and what they mean.”
We also heard that trainees do a lot of condition precedent work; a CP is a requirement or event that must happen before a contract (or parts of it) can come into effect. The team also handles all sorts of securitization work. Names like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs dot the client list. The firm recently advised investment company Sixth Street Partners on its agreement with Real Madrid and an experiences company to develop Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.
On the derivatives and structured products side, the firm deals with “the sort of stuff you see in The Big Short” and, as such, earned an “eight out of ten for enjoyment.” To be more specific, trainees will draft transaction documents, which is “very hands-on.” The equity debt markets folks explained that the London office only deals with debt – equity work is handled by the US. Trainees described themselves as “transaction managers” in this seat: “You get lots of autonomy because the documents aren’t complicated. Most of it is based on existing precedent, unless the company has a niche update.” The tasks are admin-heavy, so “if you like predictability,” this is the department for you.
The firm’s banking group focuses on three areas: corporate and structured lending; leveraged finance; and restructuring and insolvency. The leveraged finance portion primarily focuses on private equity matters, either acting for lenders or borrows. “There’s lots of work stream management, which is good because it helps you get a handle on all the different documents flying about. Having that visibility is how you learn!” Newbies are also encouraged to get involved in the more technical side, such as drafting commercial agreements.
Restructuring and insolvency trainees also see their fair share of drafting – mainly ancillary documents or board resolutions: “Insolvency involves a lot of black letter law, so trainees have to do lots of research” in this subgroup. Finally, the corporate and structured lending branch regularly sees asset finance and real estate finance, working with some of the world’s biggest banks. Barclays, Bank of America, Citibank, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and BNP Paribas are all clients of the firm. Linklaters advised the lenders on the €6 billion financing of Orange Spain and MásMóvil’s merger.
Linklaters’ corporate team is split into four subgroups: corporate 125 does financialsponsors work, whilst corporate 105 is known for its equity work. Corporate 120 120does a mix of public and private M&A, and corporate 110 primarily focuses on private M&A.The firm regularly works on M&A deals worth upwards of £800 million. A host of household names form the client roster, like Unilever, AXA, Greene King, Sainsburys, Vodafone and Nestle, in addition to banking giants. Speaking of which, Links advised HSBC on Overseas on the CAD 15 billion sale of HSBC Bank Canada to the Royal Bank of Canada. Across the subgroups, trainees found themselves doing due diligence, drafting board minutes and working with ancillary documents, like NDAs. With several cross-border deals on the go, trainees also spend time “coordinating with foreign counsel and compiling the final report.”
Energy & infrastructure “is a sector-focused team, which does quite a mix of things.” To be specific, trainees could work on project finance, project acquisitions and regulatory matters across the mining, renewables and oil & gas sectors. Where the latter is concerned, the firm recently advised National Grid on its auction sale of a majority stake in its gas transmission and gas metering businesses. “We also do a lot of construction work, putting in place the key agreements between developer and contractor.” These contracts include commercial elements, which trainees can have a go at drafting. Sources added that “trainees are able to get involved in a range of work,” highlighting “lots due diligence. At the end of the day, banks want to know that the project is going to get built.”
On the contentious side, Links’ litigation, arbitration and investigations department is split into the three subgroups (though trainees don't have to work in one set group.) On the litigation side, the team deals with “a lot of commercial disputes,” representing clients like Bulb Energy, European price comparison website Kelkoo and Spanish telecoms giant Telefónica. Links recently advised Telefónica S.A. and Telefónica O2 on claims brought by the administrators of Phones 4U. The administrators allege three UK-based mobile network operators and their parent companies colluded to coordinate an exit from their contracts with Phones 4U, leading to the company’s administration. Trainees can expect to get involved in doc review, bundling and disclosure, like looking at redactions. Overall, our sources noted it was common to come in on an existing case and leave before the case had ended; such is the nature of litigation.
With big deals the norm, sources confirmed that long hours aren’t out of the question. The good news is, while there could be “a month of midnight finishes” and the occasional all-nighter, “on the whole, the hours have been pretty reasonable.” Our survey indicated that Links was slightly above the market average, but sources warned that a quieter market meant this year’s results were an anomaly.
However, sources were quick to point out that money “isn’t the be all and end all,” instead favouring the firm’s caring culture: “I accepted my TC during lockdown, and I got an email from a partner, saying ‘I heard you are joining us, and I hope you and your family are safe.’” This caring approach is also reflected in the training: “When you’ve done a good job, someone will tell you. When you’ve not, someone will tell you,” one insider explained, “it’s because they’re investing in you.”
“I can’t fault the supervision here.”
Each groups runs its training sessions differently. The structured finance group, for example, hosts sessions for two or three hours a week, every week. The corporate department, however, frontloads training. Irrespective of the department, trainees reckoned the training “has been very good.” As one source put it, “I decided to join Links because I wanted the best possible training.” Several sources noted that “the supervisors are very hands-on. I can’t fault the supervision here.”
The firm’s social scene, sources felt, varies from team to team. “Every group has a social committee, but some groups are more on it than others.” We heard activities like karaoke and golf, alongside drinks to celebrate promotions.” Meanwhile, “banking had an away day to Barcelona, which was pretty good.” Muy bien.
One thing that doesn’t vary by team is the value of DE&I. In fact, trainees scored Linklaters significantly higher than the market average for staffing teams diversely, and its efforts in recruiting diverse candidates. Ramadan had just come to end when we came calling, and sources were quick to praise Linklaters for hosting an Eid event, and running a Ramadan challenge: “People signed up to fast for a day, which felt very inclusive.” We heard the firm was very accommodating of those who were fasting.
Come qualification, those who are interested in staying at the firm put down four preferred departments. The list then goes to the trainee development team, which crunches some numbers. After that, “HR allocates us to the different groups, which accept or decline depending on whether they want us.” However, sources told us, “most people tend to know the decision in advance because you have conversations with your chosen groups throughout the process. I know where I’m going. It’s quite open.” The firm didn't disclose its 2023 retention figures.
See ya laters
Links runs a training contract split between London and the Middle East, in which trainees do two seats in London and two seats in another office.
How to get a Linklaters training contract
Vac scheme deadline: Winter 5 October 2023; Spring 14 December 2023; Summer 14 December 2023
Linklaters recruits from a wide range of universities and accepts applications from both law and non-law students: the proportion of law to non-law graduates is 60:40. Alongside hosting events for students at all UK universities, recruiters also hire from Africa, India and Australia. To apply, candidates fill in their basic information, academic record and contextual data, before taking the online assessment based on the Linklaters agile mindset framework. The process is not timed, and the modules cover scenarios such as global transactions and critical thinking. This should take between 70-90 minutes to complete and helps the firm to understand more about you and your skillset. The assessment also helps applicants to find out more about what life is like as a Linklaters trainee and gives a personalised feedback report. The online assessment for a vac scheme is the same as the one for the training contract.
Alongside the online assessment, applicants will be invited to complete an online Watson Glaser critical thinking test. You'll be doing yourself a favour by having a stab at a practice test, which can be found online.
Assessments and interviews
Successful applicants – for training contracts and vac scheme places alike – attend one of many assessment days held each year. The day involves a case study and two interviews. The case study is a hypothetical example of work a trainee might face. Candidates will have time to read and review the material and are then asked to write about some of the issues they spotted.
The first interview takes place with trainee recruitment, who will be looking for examples from interviewees which demonstrate you have the qualities in their 'mindset framework' such as leadership and excellence. Recruiters say “you can use examples from part time jobs, your hobbies and interests, or your studies – it’s up to you."
Then there's an interview with a partner and managing associate; they’ll discuss your case study, and ask a few more questions about you. Again, they will be looking for a candidate to demonstrate qualities in their 'mindset framework,' such as intellect, commercial thinking, resilience and teamwork.
During the assessment day, candidates get a chance to tour the building and have lunch with the current trainees – a good chance to ask questions and find out more about working at the firm. From here the firm makes its offers.
The vacation scheme
Around 70% of Linklaters' vac schemers go on to train with the firm. The firm runs winter, spring and summer schemes – these are open to law and non-law students in their penultimate-year and final-year of study, as well as graduates and postgrads.
Vac schemers visit one practice group during their visit and can state preferences for this beforehand. Each attendee works alongside an associate who acts as a formal mentor and provides both guidance and feedback. A buddy from the trainee group stands in as a more informal point of contact.
Over the course of the vac scheme there are presentations on core practice areas, a talk from the managing partner about the firm’s strategy, and an advice session on how to conduct yourself at an interview. Vac schemers also participate in a hypothetical client pitch and a mediation exercise.
Those who complete the scheme are automatically allotted a final interview for a training contract. This takes place with a partner and managing associate and lasts an hour.
One Silk Street,
At Linklaters, we create great opportunities for talented individuals from all walks of life. Unlike many law firms, we have consistent, market-leading global teams across the full range of practice areas within commercial law. Wherever our lawyers focus, they are involved in the most interesting and dynamic work.
Main areas of work
Rather than specialise in just one area, we’re proud to have best-in-class divisions across the board, in corporate, finance, and litigation, arbitration and investigations. And in practice, they frequently work together to advise clients. As a Linklaters colleague, our breadth of expertise means that, wherever you focus, you’ll be involved in the very best work, and benefit from continuous, tailored training from experienced lawyers.
The Linklaters training programme offers the knowledge and support you need to hit the ground running. Non-law graduates spend a conversion year studying the Law Foundations Course (PGDL), and all graduates complete the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE). We will support our future joiners through the SQE and are part of the City Consortium (made up of six leading law firms). Over two years you’ll take up four six-month seats (placements) in different practice areas and sometimes abroad, for the breadth and depth of knowledge you need to develop and qualify. Throughout your career, you’ll be supported with world-class training courtesy of the Linklaters Learning & Development team.
Our two-week Winter and Spring vacation schemes, and our three-week Summer vacation schemes are open to penultimate-year students, final-year students, graduates and postgraduates studying both law and non-law subjects at UK and Irish universities.
For the Law Foundations Course and SQE, Linklaters covers all costs, and we also offer maintenance grants. Other benefits include performance related bonuses, a contributory pension, private medical insurance, life assurance, income protection, in-house healthcare, family friendly benefits, an in-house gym and subsidised restaurant, an interest free season ticket loan and holiday travel insurance.
Open days and first-year opportunities
For information on our events, keep an eye on our calendar (careers.linklaters.com/en/early-careers/-meet-us), or sign up to our mailing list.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is the pulse of our firm, running through our global business strategy and firmly embedded in our culture and values. We are committed to using our position as a global business to create fairer systems and a more inclusive culture within our firm and beyond.
We develop bespoke talent programmes to help us create a sustainable pipeline of diverse talent for leadership roles in our firm, including our flagship Women’s Leadership Programme, and our INspire Minority Ethnic Talent Programme. In July 2020 we signed the Race Fairness Commitment, committing to new concrete and data-driven measures taking structural action on race in the workplace. Our Diverse Voices: Reverse Mentoring scheme gives senior leaders in our firm an opportunity to build their awareness and understanding of different people’s perspectives and experiences. Finally, we have delivered 200+ Unconscious Bias training sessions globally, commenced our next wave of diversity training on Inclusive Culture and delivered Anti-Racism training to everyone at the firm.
The health and wellbeing of our people is recognised as being of critical importance and in the UK, we have an established programme structured around monthly topics. These cover areas such as mental health, healthy eating, exercise, sleep, as well as how to cope with the stresses of work and home life. Through our leading role in the City Mental Health Alliance, we are committed to breaking down the stigma and fear associated with discussing mental health in the workplace. We also have Healthy Minds, our confidential and free psychological support service which provides on and offsite support.
Recent achievements include being a Financial Times Leader in Diversity 2023, featuring in The Times Top 50 Employers for Women for the tenth year running in 2023, top 20 employer in the 2022 UK Social Mobility Index and featuring in the Stonewall 2023 Top 10 Employers for LGBT people in the UK.
This Firm's Rankings in
UK Guide, 2023
- Banking & Finance: Borrowers: Big-Ticket (Band 1)
- Banking & Finance: Lenders: Big-Ticket (Band 1)
- Banking & Finance: Sponsors (Band 2)
- Commercial and Corporate Litigation (Band 3)
- Competition Law (Band 1)
- Corporate/M&A: £800 million and above (Band 1)
- Employment: Employer (Band 2)
- Environment & Climate Change (Band 1)
- Financial Crime: Corporates (Band 3)
- Information Technology & Outsourcing (Band 2)
- Intellectual Property (Band 3)
- Intellectual Property: Patent Litigation (Band 3)
- Pensions (Band 1)
- Real Estate: £150 million and above (Band 3)
- Restructuring/Insolvency (Band 1)
- Tax (Band 3)
- Administrative & Public Law: Mainly Commercial (Band 2)
- Asset Finance: Shipping Finance (Band 3)
- Banking Litigation (Band 2)
- Capital Markets: Debt (Band 1)
- Capital Markets: Derivatives (Band 1)
- Capital Markets: Equity (Band 1)
- Capital Markets: High-Yield Products (Band 3)
- Capital Markets: Securitisation (Band 1)
- Capital Markets: Structured Products (Band 1)
- Commodities: Derivatives & Energy Trading (Band 2)
- Commodities: Trade Finance (Band 2)
- Data Protection & Information Law (Band 1)
- Employee Share Schemes & Incentives (Band 1)
- Energy & Natural Resources: Mining: International (Band 1)
- Energy & Natural Resources: Oil & Gas (Band 1)
- Energy & Natural Resources: Power (Band 1)
- Energy & Natural Resources: Renewables & Alternative Energy (Band 1)
- Financial Services: Contentious Regulatory (Corporates) (Band 1)
- Financial Services: Non-contentious Regulatory (Band 1)
- Infrastructure (Band 1)
- Insurance: Non-contentious (Band 2)
- International Arbitration: Commercial Arbitration (Band 4)
- International Arbitration: Investor-State Arbitration (Band 4)
- Investment Funds: Investor Representation (Band 3)
- Investment Funds: Private Equity (Band 4)
- Investment Funds: Private Equity: Credit Funds Spotlight
- Investment Funds: Real Estate (Band 2)
- Life Sciences: IP/Patent Litigation (Band 3)
- Life Sciences: Transactional (Band 3)
- Pensions Litigation (Band 2)
- Private Equity: Buyouts: £500 million and above (Band 1)
- Projects (Band 1)
- Projects: PFI/PPP (Band 2)
- Public International Law (Band 4)
- Real Estate Finance (Band 2)
- Retail: Corporate & Competition (Band 1)
- Sanctions (Band 3)
- Telecommunications (Band 3)
- Transport: Rail: Projects & Infrastructure (Band 1)