Linklaters - The Inside View

A legal giant from across the pond with nearly 200 years of history to its name; a firm with countless international Links.

“I was primarily targeting firms that had a real global presence and Linklaters fit the bill,” a junior began. “It wasn’t just overseas offices I was looking for but a real international presence outside the US.” With 30 offices across the world, Links – one of five traditional elite ‘magic circle’ firms in the UK – was a sensible choice for our source. They and others were attracted by the “quality of work, but what really kept me here is the close-knit community environment in the smaller US bases and the level of courtesy shown to everybody here. That’s the British culture seeping in.”

“It wasn’t just overseas offices I was looking for but a real international presence outside the US.”

Linklaters is some way off its homegrown rivals in the US headcount (just over 200 lawyers) and Chambers USA rankings stakes, earning only minor accolades for finance and antitrust; Chambers Global gives a much more impressive report, putting Links at the top table worldwide for banking and finance, capital markets, corporate/M&A, employee benefits, projects, energy and tax. New York is by quite some distance the firm’s largest base in the States, but DC associates were keen to talk about the growth of their office in the past couple of years: “When I summered at the firm two years ago, we had around 15 staff members overall and now we’re a team of around 25 lawyers,” one young associate recalled.

The Work



After the summer, incoming associates swim throughout the firm’s ‘pool’ system for their first year. “The departments send in requests for assistance on various projects and you’re expected to get your feet wet across all practice areas,” we heard. “It’s really helpful for getting comfortable with different terminology in each practice,” one junior swimmer explained. Another feared that putting everyone in a pool resulted in overcrowding and “uneven distribution of work. I guess it depends on the individual, but there tends to be some associates who take on more work from their preferred groups, which means there isn’t enough left for others to sample.” All in all, our interviewees agreed that “the pool will be what you want it to be” and the firm is improving its work distribution process regularly. After year one, juniors rank their top three practice area preferences and the firm sorts them into a permanent home. For most, that’s the corporate or finance department; other potential destinations include dispute resolution, project finance and investment funds.

“We just jump in on whichever matter needs our help.”

Finance is the largest practice in the New York office especially: bankruptcy and restructuring, capital markets, secured financing and general banking all fall in here. New Yorkers often get the chance to work together with the São Paulo office advising Latin American corporations, financial institutions and even governments. It may be the biggest chunk of the Big Apple pie, but Linklaters’ small overall headcount means even the finance team is a tight-knit operation and work assignment is fluid. “We just jump in on whichever matter needs our help,” juniors said. “They try to give us a mix of work and staff us leanly with just a partner and senior associate, allowing juniors to get substantive experience.” Things only get stricter when the London office requires New York involvement on massive cross-border matters: “If it’s your turn to take on one of those cases then you have to stick with it.”

Juniors floating around the banking department tend to see more lender-side financings and “manage some of the less intensely negotiated documents, assisting with comments and taking on a lot of direct contact with opposing counsel and clients.” DC leans more toward restructuring and insolvency including Chapter 15 bankruptcies (“we’re representing companies in overseas jurisdictions, getting access to US courts”), Chapter 11 security creditor matters and “any types of litigation cases which arise out of bankruptcies.” A source said they were more likely to “get their hands dirty with higher-level stuff on restructurings” than other finance matters. “I’m often in the front seat of the operation and I’m dealing with client queries from various jurisdictions.”

Finance clients: Bank of America, Vodafone, Barclays. Represented British fashion retail business New Look in its £1.5 billion-valued Chapter 15 case and advised on the scheme of arrangement.

Over in the corporate department, US-centric M&A forms a big chunk of the business. “I would say our primary stream of work comes from clients who are seeking to invest in the US, whether that’s initial direct investment or their ongoing US operations which involve M&A activity,” one source suggested. Links being Links, cross-border transactions are commonplace, as are general advisory matters. Deals are allocated on a casual basis; one junior highlighted the “positive factors of being part of a smaller team. It allows you to get to know one another well and allows for more flexibility of staffing.” How so? “As juniors, we can discuss amongst ourselves which areas we need to grow in and the firm can help us work with different people to achieve that,” they explained. Typical junior associate tasks range from monitoring due diligence and checklists to shaping initial drafts of merger and joint venture agreements.

Corporate clients: Montagu Private Equity, Whirlpool Corporation, Petrobras. Advised private equity firm PAI Partners on its €1.54 billion acquisition of travel catering provider Areas.

Career Development



Linklaters assigns a partner or counsel mentor to each junior associate, available for quarterly check-ins and more regular collaborative working. “I don’t know how painful it is for them, but they always walk us through assignments to understand concepts and are very patient and kind in guiding us,” sources reflected. The firm has also introduced career counseling via a third-party provider. Interviewees described the services as both “cool” and “necessary,” having received tips for legal persuasive writing and an outline of the fundamental building blocks of a sales and purchase agreement. Interesting definition of “cool” there. Linklaters also utilizes its global network for training purposes: “In my first year I’ve been to London three times for training alone,” a source told us. “There’s definitely a focus on associate development, they’re not just churning out warm bodies.”

Culture



Far from soulless lawyer factories, Linklaters’ smaller US bases “lend themselves to a more familial environment” according to interviewees. Much of the culture has leaked from London across the Atlantic: like the UK HQ, New York hosts weekly Thursday socials and monthly pizza lunches. The dress code is “sneakers and jeans casual” when there aren’t clients around to impress and “everyone from associate level to the top understands that we’re not just there to be run into the ground. It’s nice to hear from managers that our happiness impacts the firm's success.”

“Comradery and humor pervading throughout the office.”

If a small New York office is a recipe for familial culture, an even smaller DC base understandably leads to “comradery and humor pervading throughout the office.” There’s not as much of a social scene in the nation’s capital – there just haven’t been enough people on the ground to build one. DC is now a real established office,” we heard, and it has its own summer program. The firm’s “hired a few new partners and associates laterally in the past year,” so social happenings may get busier in future.

Pro Bono



The firm’s pro bono coordinator sends out emails to notify associates of opportunities on offer, ranging from employment and nonprofit corporate matters to working on visa applications for asylum seekers and child custody cases. Although each office has links to local organizations, interviewees stressed that Linklaters is flexible in “allowing us to bring in our own pro bono projects and clients.” There’s a mandatory minimum of 100 pro bono hours for associates, all of which count as billable. “You'd need a very good reason not to meet that requirement,” especially given community investment projects and non-legal volunteer hours also fit the bill. We heard that “the firmhighly encourages associates to engage more with the community. I’ve never heard of anyone being told that they are doing too many hours.”

Pro bono hours

  • For all US offices: 9,614
  • Average per US attorney: 72

“Everything including pro bono and community hours is included when it comes to calculating bonuses.”

Hours & Compensation



Though there’s no official billing target, the firm runs a ‘metric utilization’ scale to track associate hours. Taking 9:30am as an average start time, juniors estimated that most days run until between 6:30 and 8pm. “Everything including pro bono and community hours is included when it comes to calculating bonuses,” and sources estimated that around 10 hours a day on average will set you in good stead. There were mixed reports on how strictly the firm holds associates to this goal; some felt “that differs by practice group.” This was also true of senior attorneys’ attitudes to working from home, and while there was a consensus that “Linklaters doesn’t have a prominent facetime culture,” we heard that agile working policies are still underutilized by some. “People are still getting exhausted and not taking care of themselves,” juniors lamented. “I really hope the firm comes around to widely publicizing a more flexible policy for all.”

Diversity & Inclusion



“Linklaters does realize that to keep our body running, we need our mind to be working,” associates noted. “There have definitely been more conversations focused around mental health and wellbeing.” The firm provides free counseling sessions and online resources in this vein. There’s also been change in Links’ approach to diversity: the firm has begun to recruit from a wider net of law schools and set aside some spots on its summer scheme for 1Ls from disadvantaged backgrounds. ’We’re aware that we need to focus on the recruitment and retention of minorities,” a junior said. “It’s extremely helpful to see people you can relate to in positions of authority.”

“There have definitely been more conversations focused around mental health and wellbeing.”

Get Hired



The first stage: recruitment on and off campus

OCI applicants interviewed: 530

Interviewees outside OCI: 18

Linklaters USA conducts OCI interviews at Brooklyn, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Emory, Fordham, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, Howard, University of Michigan, NYU, University of Pennsylvania, St John’s, UVA and Yale. It also does resume collections at Cardozo and Stanford, and participates in the NLGBT Lavender Law Fair, MABLSA Job Fair, and NEBLSA Job Fair. Partners, counsels and senior associates usually conduct the interviews. At each school, interviewers see approximately 20 to 70 students.

Hiring partner Doug Tween tells us: “During our initial interviews we try to focus on the following core competencies:  motivation and commitment to excellence, organizational and commercial awareness, intellect and analytical ability, working with others, and communication skills. The best interviews are with candidates who can explain how they satisfy those competencies with specific experiences.Overall, Linklaters is looking for “intelligent, curious, energetic, team-oriented people who will help us succeed going forward.”

Top tips for this stage:

“This can vary from student to student, but in general we are looking for well-rounded individuals with a combination of strong academics, relevant work experience, leadership positions, and examples of working effectively as part of a team. Language skills are a plus.” – Doug Tween, hiring partner

“Be familiar with the firm and what we do. Look at the website, research social media, speak with students who have summered with us in the past. Come to our recruiting events and talk to people.  Listen and be prepared with questions that demonstrate you’ve done your homework.  Come in with energy and enthusiasm.” – Doug Tween, hiring partner

Callbacks

Applicants invited to second stage interview: 183

Callback interviews include five separate meetings. Students meet with one member of HR or recruitment, two partners/counsel, and two associates, each for half an hour. Interviewers here ask behavioral questions that home in on particular competency areas. Tween tells us “at this stage of the interviews, we are interested in delving deeper into the candidates’ past experiences and behaviors to help us get a better sense of what motivates them, how they work with others, and how they have handled challenges in the past.”

Top tips for this stage:

“At this stage of the interview process, you should be able to clearly identify why you are interested in the firm. Doing some research on the firm and your interviewers will enable you to make connections with the people you meet and convince them of your interest.” – Doug Tween, hiring partner

“Be ready to talk about your resume, but also about current events. And perhaps most importantly: be prepared with your own, thoughtful questions.” – Doug Tween, hiring partner 

Summer program

Offers: 63

Acceptances: 20

Our summer associates typically rotate through two practice divisions, and they may also have an opportunity to spend the summer in one of our overseas offices or spend time in more than one office. As well as helping on billable matters, summer associates are expected to work on pro bono assignments. They also attend training sessions throughout the summer to prepare them for practice and introduce them to the firm. Summer associates typically share offices with associates, and each summer associate is assigned a partner/counsel mentor and an associate mentor. Summer associates have informal catch-ups with their mentors over the course of the summer, and they also receive two formal appraisals during the program, one at the midpoint and one at the end of the summer.

Linklaters hosts many social events for summer associates, the most notable being the midsummer retreat to London. “The retreat brings the entire global summer associate class together in London for several days to see the office and learn more about the firm and how we work together to serve our clients,” Tween explains. “The retreat is also an opportunity for the summers to meet our London-based attorneys and get to know their summer associate classmates who are working in different offices. And of course, they also get to do some sight-seeing as a class and experience London.”

Back home in the US, associates informed us of social events ranging from “an axe throwing class and a museum hack tour to exploring nice restaurants.”

The firm tells us nearly all summers return as junior associates. In the New York and Washington offices, juniors are placed in a general pool for their first year at the firm. At the end of six months they express their preferences and are then placed into specific practice areas. 

Top tips for this stage:

“The best way summer associates can impress and make the most of their summer experience with us is by being proactive and engaged; demonstrating that they are excited to learn and be a part of the team; and focusing on contributing and doing their best.” – Doug Tween, hiring partner

“Take the opportunity to meet and work with as many people as possible and explore a variety of work.” – Doug Tween, hiring partner

And finally….

Tween tells us: “Know what distinguishes Linklaters from other top-tier law firms, and be able to explain why Linklaters is the firm for you.”

Linklaters

1345 Avenue of the Americas,
New York,
NY 10105
Website www.linklaters.com

  • Number of domestic offices: 2
  • Number of international offices: 28
  • Worldwide revenue: £1,523.5million
  • Partners (US): 43
  • Associates (US): 161
  • Contacts 
  • Main recruitment contact: Jennifer Katz-Hickman
  • Hiring partners: Justin Storms and Douglas Tween
  • Diversity partner: Peter Cohen-Millstein
  • Recruitment details 
  • Entry-level associates starting in 2020: 17
  • Clerking policy: Yes
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2020: 21 (1Ls: 2, 2Ls: 26, SEO: 2)
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2020 split by office: Many of our summers split time between two offices
  • NY: 22, London: 7, Washington: 3, Hong Kong: 2, Singapore: 1, Frankfurt: 1 
  • Summer salary 2020: 1Ls: $ 3,700/week 2Ls: $ 3,700/week
  • Split summers offered? No
  • Can summers spend time in an overseas office? Yes

Main areas of work



  Antitrust/competition, banking, bankruptcy, restructuring and insolvency, capital markets, corporate/M&A, dispute resolution, energy and infrastructure/project finance, executive compensation and ERISA, financial regulation, investigations and white collar crime, investment funds, structured finance and derivatives, tax

Firm profile



 Linklaters has been advising the world’s premier companies, financial institutions and governments on their most important and challenging assignments for over 175 years.

With more than 2,600 attorneys based in 30 offices in 20 countries, we deliver an outstanding service to our clients anywhere in the world. Our US practice in New York and Washington, DC, is reinforced by a global network of US lawyers extending across the world’s major business and financial centers, including: Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, Madrid, Moscow, Paris, São Paulo, Seoul, Singapore and Tokyo.

Our team of US-qualified lawyers delivers integrated advice across multiple legal regimes and market practices, covering transactional, regulatory, disclosure, compliance, litigation and liability management issues globally.

Recruitment



Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2020:
Brooklyn, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Fordham, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, Howard, Michigan, NYU, Penn, UVA

Recruitment outside OCIs:

Judicial clerks and student applicants from schools where we do not interview on campus are encouraged to apply via our application portal on our website: https://careers.linklaters.com

Summer associate profile:

We look for people who can make the most of all we have to offer: those who will work hard, learn quickly and take responsibility early. You will need analytical intelligence, a high level of attention to detail, creativity, and the people skills required to work well with colleagues and clients. It is also important to have a genuine interest in business and the financial world, a high level of commercial awareness, and the desire to be part of a global network.

Summer program components:
Our summer associates typically rotate through two practice divisions and may have the opportunity to spend time in more than one office. Summers are given real responsibility and are expected to participate in pro bono work in addition to working on billable matters.

In addition to our dedicated summer associate training program, we also encourage our summers to attend training sessions offered to associates. Each summer associate is assigned a partner and associate mentor and receives two formal appraisals, at the midpoint and at the end of the summer. 

Social media



Recruitment website: careers.linklaters.com
Linkedin:linklaters
Twitter:@LinklatersLLP

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2020

Ranked Departments

    • Antitrust (Band 4)

Visit Linklater's careers page.

 

Joshua KlaymanInterested in FinTech law?

Joshua Ashley Klayman, US head of FinTech and head of blockchain and digital assets at Linklaters

“I was a finance lawyer for many years and loved it, yet I’d never taken a secured transactions course in law school. And if you would have told me years ago that one day I’d self-identify as a technology lawyer, I never would have believed you.”

 

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