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Magic Circle Law Firms: The Ultimate Guide

If you’re an aspiring solicitor, you’ve almost certainly heard of the Magic Circle law firms.

But who are the Magic Circle law firms? What sets them apart from other firms? And how can you get to work for them? You can find all of the answers to these questions using our free guide – start reading below!

Did you know that some Magic Circle law firms use contextual recruitment to find the very best candidates? You can sign up for free and hear directly from firms!

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magic circle law firms

What are the Magic Circle Law Firms?

The Magic Circle law firms are five UK-based firms considered to be amongst the most prestigious in the world.

Their elite status in a competitive industry comes from various factors, including their client base, their revenue per lawyer, their revenue per partner and the number of lawyers they have working for them.

With this intriguing, informal nickname comes an increasingly high reputation; described by The Guardian writer Laura Paddison, they’re the firms that promise “top graduates a glittering name on their CV, A-list corporate clients and excellent training”.

The five consist of:

Although a rather old-fashioned term, the phrase ‘the Magic Circle’ has only been used since the late 1990s; before then, the prestigious law firms were called the “Club of Nine”, and included Lovells (now Hogan Lovells), Norton Rose (now Norton Rose Fulbright), Herbert Smith (now Herbert Smith Freehills) and Stephenson Harwood.

This group fragmented at the beginning of the 2000s, and now comprises the five that now make up the “Magic Circle”, a term coined by legal journalists.

Want a more specific insight into each of these firms? Read one of these interviews with Magic Circle employees!

You’ve heard of the Magic Circle, but did you know that there’s also a Silver Circle? Find out about the prestigious firms that make up this elite group below
Who are the Silver Circle Law Firms?


Average Magic Circle Law Firms Salary

Wondering what the salary is like for a Magic Circle trainee? Or a Magic Circle partner salary? Just take a look at our table below:

Law FirmFirst Year TraineeSecond Year TraineeNewly Qualified LawyerEquity Partner
Allen & Overy£44,000£49,000£100,000 (including bonus)Between £1.6m -£1.7m
Clifford Chance£44,800£50,500£100,000 (including bonus)Between £1.6m -£1.7m
Freshfields£43,000£48,000£100,000 (excluding bonus)£1.8m
Linklaters£42,000£49,000£100,000 (including bonus)£1.7m
Slaughter and May£43,000£48,000£92,000 (excluding bonus)£1.8m

Who are the Magic Circle Law Firms?

 allen & overy

Allen & Overy

Founded:1930, by George Allen and Thomas Overy
Based: Bishops Square, London E1
Senior Partner:Wim Dejonghe
Managing Partner:Andrew Ballheimer
Approx. number of partners:554
Approx. number of lawyers:2800
Number of offices:44
Number of countries with offices:31
Revenue:£1.52 billion
Number of trainees per year:90 seats
Retention rate of trainees:85%
Number of vacation schemes:60
Specified GDL provider:BPP Law School
GDL funding:£8000
Specified LPC/LLM provider:BPP Law School
LPC/LLM funding:£7000

 

Defining moments:

What do they look for in Allen & Overy training contract candidates?

Allen & Overy Expert Insights:

Allen & Overy Application Timeline:

OpportunityForOpensClosesAssessment CentresScheme runs
Winter Vacation SchemePenultimate or final year students; graduates1 August 201920 October 2019N/STBC
Summer Vacation SchemePenultimate or final year students; graduates1 August 201922 December 2019N/STBC
Training Contract (March/September 2020 intake)Penultimate or final year students; graduates1 August 201922 December 2019N/SN/A

 

Is Allen & Overy the law firm for you? Take our new Which Magic Circle Law Firm is Right For Me? Quiz now!

Take the quiz!

clifford chance

Clifford Chance

Founded:1987, by merger of Clifford Turner and Coward Chance
Based: Upper Bank Street, London E14
Senior Partner:Malcolm Sweeting
Managing Partner:Matthew Layton
Approx. number of partners:570
Approx. number of lawyers:3300
Number of offices:36
Number of countries with offices:26
Revenue:£1.54 billion
Number of trainees per year:80 seats
Retention rate of trainees:81%
GDL funding:£8000 (London), £7000 (outside of London)
Specified GDL provider:BPP University, any branch
LLM CLP funding: £10,000
Specified LLM CLP provider:BPP University, Holborn

 

Defining moments:

What do they look for in Clifford Chance training contract candidates?

Clifford Chance Expert Insights:

Clifford Chance Application Timeline:

OpportunityForOpensClosesAssessment CentresScheme runs
Summer Vacation SchemePenultimate year students, any degree1 August 201912 December 2019Week commencing 20 January 202029 June - 10 July 2020
Training Contract1 August 201912 December 2019Week commencing 6 January 2020For 2022
IGNITE Training Contract1 August 201912 December 2019Weeks commencing 13 January and 27 January 2020For 2022
SPARKYou can only apply for SPARK if you are in your first year or the second year of a four year course1 August 201912 December 2019Week commencing 27 January 2020Scheme one: 22-26 June 2020

Scheme two: 13-17 July 2020
PRIME London1 August 2019


1 August 2019
22 March 2020


12 July 2020
N/S


N/S
Scheme One: 6-9 April 2020

3-6 August 2020
PRIME Newcastle1 August 20195 July 2020N/S27-29 July 2020

 

Is Clifford Chance the law firm for you? Take our new Which Magic Circle Law Firm is Right For Me? Quiz now!

Take the quiz!

freshfields

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Founded:1743, formed by Samuel Dodd.
Based: Fleet Street, London EC4Y
Senior Partner:Edward Braham
Managing Partner:Julian Long
Approx. number of partners:427
Approx. numer of lawyers:2800
Number of offices:28
Number of countries with offices:16
Revenue:£1.33 billion
Number of trainees per year:80
Retention rate of trainees:66%
GDL funding:£7250
Specified GDL provider:BPP University, any branch
LPC funding:£7000
Specified LPC provider:BPP University, London
Annual leave:25 days

 

Defining moments:

What do they look for in Freshfields training contract candidates?

Freshfields Expert Insights:

Freshfields Application Timeline:

OpportunityForOpensClosesAssessment CentresScheme runs
Summer Vacation SchemeFirst year undergraduates1 October 20196 January 2020Beginning of 2020Scheme one: 22 June - 10 July 2020

Scheme two: 13 July 2020 - 31 July 2020
Summer Training Contract (Law Only)Penultimate and final year law students; law graduates; GDL graduates1 June 202016 July 2020August 2020N/S
Winter Training Contract (Law and Non-Law)Final year law students; law graduates; final year non-law students; non-law graduates1 October 20196 January 2020March 2020N/S

 

If you’re looking for firsthand interview tips from a Magic Circle partner, make sure to look at our blog post 12 Pro Interview Tips from a Magic Circle Partner – with all the practical advice you need to have your best interview yet!

Read the pro tips now

linklaters

Linklaters

 

Founded:1838, by John Linklater and Julius Dods
Based: Silk Street, London, EC2
Senior Partner:Charles Jacobs
Managing Partner:Gideon Moore
Approx. number of partners:470
Approx. numer of lawyers:2300
Number of offices:29
Number of countries with offices:20
Revenue:£1.31 billion
Number of trainees per year:110
Retention rate of trainees:94%
GDL funding:£8000 (in London), £7000 (outside of London)
Specified GDL provider:University of Law, any branch
LPC funding:£7000
Specified LPC provider:University of Law, Moorgate

 

Defining moments:

What do they look for in Linklaters training contract candidates?

Linklaters Expert Insights:

Linklaters Application Timeline:

OpportunityForOpensClosesAssessment CentresScheme runs
Spring Vacation SchemePenultimate and final year law or non-law students; law or non-law graduates; law or non-law postgraduatesBeginning of October 2019Beginning of January 2020N/S30 March - 9 April 2020
Summer Vacation SchemePenultimate and final year law or non-law students; law or non-law graduates; law or non-law postgraduatesBeginning of October 2019Beginning of January 2020N/A29 June - 24 July 2020
3 August - 28 August 2020
Training Contract (March/Sep Intake)Penultimate and final year law students; law graduates; GDL graduatesBeginning of October 2019Beginning of January 2020

 

Is Linklaters the law firm for you? Take our new Which Magic Circle Law Firm is Right For Me? Quiz now!

Take the quiz!

slaughter and may

Slaughter and May

Founded:1889, by William Capel Slaughter and William May
Based: Bunhill Row, London, EC1Y
Senior Partner:Steve Cooke
Executive Partner:Paul Stacey
Practice Partner:David Wittmann
Approx. number of partners:115
Approx. numer of lawyers:560
Number of offices:4
Number of countries with offices:4
Revenue:N/S
Number of trainees per year:80
Retention rate of trainees:91%
Number of vacation schemes:80
Specified GDL provider:BPP University, London Waterloo + GDL Extra Programme
Specified LPC provider:BPP Law School, Holborn
Annual leave:30 days

 

Defining moments:

What do they look for in Slaughter and May training contract candidates?

Slaughter and May Application Timeline:

OpportunityForOpensClosesScheme runs
Spring Vacation schemePenultimate law or non-law students1 October 201913 December 201930 March - 3 April 2020
Summer Work Experience SchemeLaw students in the penultimate year of their undergraduate degree and law students in the second year of a four year course who will be going abroad in their third year1 October2 January 2020Scheme one: 22 June - 10 July 2020

Scheme two: 13 July - 31 July 2020

Scheme three: 1 September - 18 September 2020
Training Contract Finalists and graduates2 September 201931 January 20202022
Winter two-day workshop 2019Law and non-law finalists and graduates1 October 20198 November 2019Scheme one: 9-10 December 2019

Scheme two: 16-17 December 2019
First Year Open Day 2020First Year law and non-law students1 October 201931 January 2020Scheme one: 2 April 2020

Scheme two: 7 April 2020

Scheme three: 15 April 2020

Author: Isabella Ford

Next: How to choose your perfect law firm >>

 

Interested in the Silver Circle law firms? Find out which one best suits you with out quiz!

Take the Silver Circle law firms quiz!

 

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