Official Partners Bar Council Cilex


What are the Magic Circle Firms

magic circle law firms

Published: 30/10/17        Author: Priya Luharia

What are the Magic Circle Firms?

The term ‘The Magic Circle’ is spoken with the utmost respect within the legal world. It is used to describe the five, elite circle of top law firms in London. The firms consist of some of the highest earning partners and lawyers in UK. The Chambers UK rankings are what prove to us that these are leading firms, as all five of them top the leader board. If one were to secure employment in one of the Magic Circle law firms, it would include working with plenty of well-known companies, governments and banks. Not to mention, the 6-figure salaries that come along with the job. It is unsurprisingly, the ambitious dream of many undergraduates to work within the Magic Circle.

Who are the Magic Circle Firms?

Allen & Overy

A primarily corporate firm of which is renowned for their banking. Allen & Overy is not only based in London, they have developed a global network; with 44 offices over 31 different countries. Currently ranked highest out of all five of the Magic Circle law firms.

Clifford Chance

Commercial, international firm with a number of global offices. According to Chambers Global 2017, Clifford Chance has been ranked in band 1 more than any other law firm.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Freshfields is a multinational law firm, and the oldest of all the Magic Circle law firms, founded in 1743. Their main area of practice is banking and finance.

Freshfields gave us at The Lawyer Portal their top tips for training contract applicants!

Read Freshfields Top Advice


With numerous offices across the world, Linklaters work with their clients to resolve important disputes. Their clients are normally large companies, governments and financial organisation.

Slaughter and May

Slaughter and May is slightly different to the other firms; they are smaller and do not have an extensive global network of offices, yet they are still one of the most prestigious firms in the world. This is because they have key connections with other leading firms across the world, and so they can still give legal advice to those in other jurisdictions.


You may be wondering at this point that most of the firms listed all sound very similar. This is because they all have in common one thing: they are all corporate firms focused chiefly on finance. Corporate issues tend to involve a lot of different types of law and generates a lot of money.

What’s the Catch?

Working at one of the Magic Circle law firms sounds like a dream come true for most lawyers. However, it is not easy at all; it includes long and hard hours working at the office. It requires full dedication to your work which would be undeniably fast-paced. The application to get into a Magic Circle firm is also tedious and time-consuming, which is anticipated since the firms only hire the best of the best.

Furthermore, since the firms are so large, it can be extremely difficult to get promoted and get recognised, for those who want a more senior position. It may be challenging and cause people to overwork themselves. In their suave London office, Clifford Chance have their own swimming pool, fitness centre and restaurant. One could practically live in the office! In a sense, this is exactly the point as the top lawyers in these firms are expected to live and breathe their work.

However, these aspects should not stop anyone who’s goal is to one day, work at one of the Magic Circle law firms. The hard work and the high-pressured environment is inevitable for such a reputable ring of firms. It must be said that lawyers find it very rewarding working for such large companies and not only in the pecuniary sense. As a law student, I would hope that everyone gets to experience working in such a prestigious environment.



Loading More Content