We were lucky enough to interview Linklaters second-year trainee Jacob* on what it’s like working at a Magic Circle law firm and his tips on getting a training contract at Linklaters.
“Law firms put a lot of effort into promoting their USPs (Unique Selling Points), so recognising what those are is paramount.”
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I studied law at the London School of Economics. I did a vacation scheme at K&L Gates and a number of insight days and workshops at various firms. I secured my training contract at Linklaters in the final year of my degree. I did my LPC at the University of Law, which is around the corner from the office.
When I arrive at the office, I catch up on my emails and make sure there is nothing to action immediately. Often my principal will have something for me to help out on, but if I’m slightly quieter, I will speak to a few associates to see if they need a hand. There may also be calls on my matters that I will participate in.
If I get any downtime, I will usually do some know-how reading, but sometimes I will speak to the marketing team to get involved in research or client publications.
The support network at Linklaters is outstanding. There is an entire infrastructure of service teams working extremely hard to make our lives as lawyers easier.
Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly for would-be applicants, Linklaters is devoted to its trainees. Their investment in junior lawyers is enormous, with extensive training and a culture of mentorship, allowing trainees to realise their potential. Linklaters is an ideal firm if you are looking to have a fulfilling training contract with endless opportunities to learn.
I made a direct training contract application to Linklaters (i.e. not through the vacation scheme route). I completed an online form, and was then asked to take a verbal reasoning test. After that, I was invited to an assessment centre which was conducted over the course of a single afternoon, during which I did another verbal reasoning test, a work simulation exercise, a HR interview and ava partner interview.
You have to be clear on why you want to work at a given firm versus other firms. Law firms put a lot of effort into promoting their USPs (Unique Selling Points), so recognising what those are is paramount.
The cliché is to “spend more time on less applications”, and many applicants overlook this idea. Anyone can Google search for the highest value deals that a firm has done in the last few years, but few people will take time to find a recent matter that actually interests them and talk about it in their application.
It is essential, of course, to have the fundamental qualities of a lawyer. These include intelligence, organisational skills and dedication.
A Linklaters trainee is then also required to be excellent at communicating, hungry for learning and willing to take responsibility. A Linklaters trainee has to be prepared to take control of their career and seek opportunities to develop.
Magic Circle law firms are primarily global organisations with offices around the world. In London, they also tend to cover a vast majority of legal practice areas. As an applicant, you have to understand how any given deal might require the expertise of various offices and practice groups.
For example, in an acquisition, will any of the sellers directors be retained and will they require new employment contracts, how is a buyer going to fund the purchase, what property will move across and does the seller have the rights to sell the property? Appreciating these wider issues will make you more prepared to tackle the interviews and ultimately have a better understanding of what a law firm actually does.
*Name has been changed to maintain confidentiality.
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