At global Brit giant Linklaters, “advising without borders is key.”
HERE at the Chambers Associate office, we often in our downtime play a ‘name all the countries of the world’ quiz. We’re getting good, but we think Linklaters’ associates would do better: from our interviews alone, we racked up a list of 10% of the world’s countries that junior associates had worked in. “I became interested in Linklaters because I wanted to expand my horizons and keep in contact with other cultures,” an associate revealed. Global US practice head partner Tom Shropshire gives the business background to this: “We believe that globalization and the integration of markets is only on the increase. And our business model is founded on it!” he says, adding: “Therefore the ability to advise without borders is key, and being aware of local requirements while being able to come up with both global and local solutions is key.”
Links’ London roots also made it an obvious choice for aspiring global advisers: “Magic circle firms have a unique way of setting themselves up globally and Linklaters wears its international component on its sleeve. We’re part of a global team and communicate across that whole network.”
Some sturdy credentials back all of this enthusiastic talk up. A hefty revenue haul of £1.523 billion in 2017/18 places Links in the big league of international law firms. But behind the figures there’s a vast amount of revered lawyerly expertise: check out Linklaters’ online profile in Chambers Global and you’ll find yourself scrolling down its ream of rankings for a considerable amount of time. On a global-wide basis, Links’ standout practices are banking & finance, capital markets, corporate/M&A, employee benefits, projects & energy and tax. In the US, Links is building up its clout, but at a nationwide scale its private equity fund formation expertise comes in for praise, while in New York its antitrust, Latin American investment and tax practices all receive recognition.
Strategy & Future
So what’s the magic behind Links' recipe for global dominance? “We’ve realized a key strength we can offer clients is a high degree of integration and an ability to advise clients uniformly, consistently and holistically," Tom Shropshire tells us. “So we have sought to build teams that want to deliver on that. We focus on being culturally aware and delivering advice always in context and never in a vacuum."
In the years ahead, Links’ teams in the US will continue to “develop resonance in the domestic market but also have the opportunity to operate globally,” says Shropshire. He adds that partner promotions in the banking and finance & restructuring teams have strengthened Links’ offering, as well as the onboarding of Matthew Axelrod (the former deputy to the then acting attorney general, Sally Yates) in the DC office’s white-collar practice. Other recent laterals have rounded out Links’ capital markets scope in New York and its regulatory enforcement expertise in DC.
In the US, most of the second and third-year juniors on our list were working in the firm’s corporate and finance groups. A handful could be found in either dispute resolution or investment funds, while a couple had joined the firm’s tax and project finance practices.
Incoming US associates are put into what Links calls ‘the pool’ for their first year. Within this system, newbies get to try out various groups at the firm. Our interviewees were certainly fans of it: “It gives you a great opportunity to try out different kinds of work, get to know subcultures within the firm and have the time to see what comes out in the wash!” After a year has passed, juniors submit preferences for the group they’d like to join before being allocated a permanent position in one.
The finance group is made up of subgroups such as capital markets, bankruptcy and restructuring, banking, secured financing, restructuring and “everything else under the corporate finance umbrella.” Juniors float between these groups – “it’s nice to be able to develop expertise and speak the language of all of those different subsections of the overarching group.” The New York contingent does a lot of specialized Latin American work, while DC reportedly handles a lot of restructuring and insolvency matters. Daily work for juniors includes “a lot of process management tasks like maintaining checklists and structure charts, as well as completing due diligence.” Praise was given to the work allocation system: “They’re trying to spread the wealth so we get substantive deal work alongside the more junior due diligence assignments.” These heftier assignments include drafting disclosure and credit agreements, running client calls and “responding to questions about US law from the international offices.”
Finance clients: BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse and Bank of America. Advised Nokia Solutions & Networks and Huawei Technologies de México as original lenders and arrangers on the financing of a new mobile broadband network in Mexico.
In the corporate group, New Yorkers had mostly got experience on M&A transactions, but also helped to handle general day-to-day advisory matters for clients. M&A matters came with a good degree of responsibility, with sources telling us that they “started with the due diligence exercises; you’re going through information on whatever is happening at that company.” Eventually, juniors were able to graduate onto helping to “negotiate the main transaction documents” and built up their drafting experience: “I’ll submit my documents to the senior associate and partner in charge of the deal for review.”
Corporate clients: mail delivery outfit Belgian Post Group, software solutions specialist ION Investment Group and home appliance company Whirlpool. Advised Brazilian animal protein producer Marfrig on its 51% acquisition of the membership interests in the US's National Beef Packing Company worth $969 million.
A keen talking point for interviewees was “our big new fun thing that we rolled out this year: the junior associate business development course. It’s quite unique to get BD training as a junior. They’ve brought in a consultant from outside, who’s already given us three two-hour seminars so far.” Associates felt that “it shows they want to invest in our futures even that early on in our careers.”
All juniors are assigned a mentor (either a partner or counsel) who they work closely with and meet for quarterly check-ins: “They’re there to support you and develop you. They want to know where you’re at mentally, with work and life in general.” Beyond that, sources felt they had plenty of support from the higher-ups, as this junior explained: “On one of my first days here a partner took me out and asked me how I was going to get the firm’s name out there. It’s like, I’m just a little junior associate – you want me to represent you in public? Everyone at every level is expected to take a role in bringing in clients.” Others added that “not everyone is interested in making partner; they’re there to develop and support you to become the best attorney you can be, at whatever level.”
“Magic circle firms are great at being fully integrated global firms,” one insider commented. “It's interesting how the culture from the London office trickles to us. Of course, when I tell my friends that, they just assume I wear a bowler hat everywhere or something!” Sources went on to tell us that “everyone here is hard-driving and expects the best of everyone else.” But the reality of this isn’t as cold as it sounds: “People are very united and here to help each other – so there’s not much internal competition.”
“They just assume I wear a bowler hat everywhere or something!”
New York associates felt that their office was “more relaxed compared to others in the city. It’s quite a casual workplace; we can stroll into other people’s offices – including the partners’ – as everyone has time for each other. It’s a very inviting office. You want to come here to see the people you work with.” Those in DC were equally enthusiastic about the atmosphere in their base, and told us that lawyers there “respect your personal life as much as possible. Sometimes things can’t wait and that’s okay, but they also appreciate that we need to be a well-rounded human being in order to give our best to the firm.”
Diversity & Inclusion
All Linklaters attorneys attend mandatory diversity and inclusion trainings, reflecting the firm’s “growing emphasis on diversity as an objective goal. With every intake the firm grows more diverse, which is great,” an associate shared. Interviewees credited this recent uptick on focus to global US practice head Tom Shropshire, and Gideon Moore, the firm’s managing partner since 2016. “Affinity groups have gotten a lot more active in the last year. It’s something that was lagging for a while, but they’re on a good course correction now.” We heard that the incoming junior classes are “very heavily skewed female – but the partnership is not. I’m sure it’s something they’re trying to work on too.” To help balance this out at the partnership level, the firm has a mentorship and support scheme for female senior associates looking to make that jump.
“With every intake the firm grows more diverse, which is great.”
Hours & Compensation
It came as no surprise to hear that one of the world’s largest law firms was keeping its juniors busy. “There are some months when I have a social life and some months where it’s insane and I’m here until 2am for a month,” a corporate source shared. “It got to the point where I hadn’t seen my roommate for a month!” That was at the more extreme end of the scale, but future Links juniors should expect to put the hours in (especially with all of those time zones to navigate). As this finance source explained: “Things pop up and plans get canceled. That’s inevitable. No one is out to ruin your weekend though. A lot of it depends on who you’re working with too: some like to buckle down and crank it out, while others are much more open to leaving something to the morning.”
While there’s “technically no formal number to hit,” Links attorneys’ hours are measured against the average recorded in their practice group; this is done to prevent market factors contributing to bonus losses. Interviewees added that billing “ten hours a day is the goal. They’ve changed our timekeeping system, so if you don’t hit ten hours of presence it says you have time missing. It’s what’s being portrayed as a minimum by the new system.”
“The requirement, or at least the hard recommendation, is that we do at least 100 pro bono hours a year, and I’ve had no trouble meeting that,” a source revealed. In fact, those 100 hours can also include other forms of volunteering – the firm calls it 'community investment.' We heard of juniors working on employment, immigration and reproductive rights cases, as well as nonprofit corporate matters. Other assignments that we heard Links’ associates had lent a hand to included assisting with the ‘Billion Oyster Project’ to restore New York Harbor’s oyster reefs; filing amicus briefs to fight Trump’s travel ban; and helping to build a global-wide report to assist the Hong Kong authority with the rolling out of a clean air plan.
Pro bono hours
- For all US offices: 8,390
- Average per US attorney: 64
“Being a US lawyer at Linklaters gives one a unique ability to not only practice US law, but also to have a skill set that transcends borders,” says global US practice head Tom Shropshire. “If you want to develop that skill set then do us a favor and give us a hard look.” Find out about getting hired at Linklaters by clicking the 'Bonus Features' tab above.
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
OCI applicants interviewed: 508
Interviewees outside OCI: 14
Linklaters USA conducts OCI interviews at Brooklyn, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Fordham, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, University of Michigan, NYU, University of Pennsylvania, and UVA. It also does resume collections at Stanford and Howard, and participates in the NLGBT Lavender Law Fair and NEBLSA Job Fair. Partners, counsels and senior associates usually conduct the interviews. At each school, interviewers see approximately 20 to 40 students.
Hiring partner Justin Storms tells us: “I will often ask a candidate to briefly summarize how they got where they are today – to describe their ‘path’ in their own words. Otherwise, as a general matter I try to tailor questions to a student’s specific experiences listed on their CV or shared during the interview, which will often facilitate a more substantive dialogue than ‘canned’ questions.”
Unsurprisingly, ‘canned’ responses won’t go down well either. Storms continues that a candidate should “try and connect with the interviewer with specific (and relevant!) questions about the firm and with thoughtful answers that actually address the questions asked. Canned and vanilla answers won’t stand out at the end of a long day.” Overall, Linklaters is looking for someone who is “intelligent, curious, energetic, team-oriented people that will help us (and themselves) succeed going forward.”
Top tips for this stage:
“We also specifically look for students with an open and outward-looking worldview and personality that have demonstrated the willingness and ability to succeed in new and changing situations. While these characteristics are useful in many firms, they are particularly important given the scope, scale and diversity of our practice.” – Justin Storms, hiring partner
“It is important to try and stand out and distinguish oneself. OCI interviewers might speak to over 20 people in a day in quick succession, which understandably can start to blur together. When candidates otherwise have similar credentials and strengths, a unique strength, point of view or experience may make the difference.” –Justin Storms, hiring partner
Applicants invited to second stage interview: 198
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 hone in on particular competency areas. Storms tells us “at this stage of the interviews, because we have much more time we can delve more 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 elucidate 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.” – Justin Storms, 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.” – Justin Storms, hiring partner
Summer associates typically rotate through two practice divisions at the firm, and they may also get an opportunity to spend time in more than one office. As well as helping on billable matters, summer associates are expected to take on pro bono work assignments and are encouraged to attend training sessions offered by the firm. Every summer associate is also assigned a partner/counsel mentor and an associate mentor. They receive two formal appraisals during the program – one at the midpoint and the second at the end of the summer.
Linklaters hosts many social events for summer associates, the most notable being the midsummer retreat to London. “The entire summer associate class comes together in London for several days to see the office and learn more about the firm and how we serve our clients globally,” Storms explains. “It is also an opportunity for them to meet our London-based attorneys – as well as their summer associate classmates who are working in different offices around the globe. And of course they also get to experience London.”
The firm tells us most 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 that year they express their preferences and are then placed into specific practice areas.
Top tips for this stage:
“The best way that summer associates can impress and make the most out of their summer experience is by being proactive and engaged, and showing that they are excited to learn, be part of the team and do their best.” – Justin Storms, hiring partner
“This is an incredibly valuable opportunity to learn about what it is like to be a practicing lawyer. Explore and experience as much of the work as you can.” – Justin Storms, hiring partner
Storms tells us: “Invest some time in getting to know us before your first interview and along the way if the process advances. It will pay dividends!”
Interview with Tom Shropshire, global US practice head at Linklaters
Chambers Associate: How would you describe the firm's current market position?
Tom Shropshire: It’s been a quite an eventful year for our global US practice. We’ve continued to pursue our strategy which was to strengthen the core of our capabilities and to augment them through bringing additional talent into the team.
In terms of things we’ve done – we’ve elected three partners into our New York and Washington offices. We’ve brought additional strength into structured finance and derivatives with Doug Donahue in our New York office. And we’ve brought two partners into our DC office: Doug Davison, a former litigator general counsel at the US Securities and Exchange Commission, and Amy Edgy, a restructuring & insolvency litigator. We’re always looking for opportunities to strengthen our core offering.
We’ve also continued to recruit actively. For last year over 70% of the incoming class were women. We’re focused on our diversity and inclusion initiatives. Not only for gender, but race and ethnicity too. It’s a key corner stone for building our environment for success.
We’ve been very busy on the business development side. We’re reinforcing this skill at the partner level and are invested in training right down to the junior level. My feeling and theory is that good client and business skills don’t develop automatically when you become partner. We’ve been putting our money where our mouth is and developing that from the moment new lawyers walk through the door. It’s been helpful in terms of driving team dynamics and the importance of working together on fostering good client relationships and business development skills.
CA: What can working for a global firm offer junior associates?
TS: The firm has always had its strength in being a global firm. Not just being global firm in terms of having offices everywhere, but also being leading in those jurisdictions. We’ve realized a key strength we can offer clients is a high degree of integration and an ability to advise clients uniformly, consistently and holistically.
So we have sought to build teams that want to deliver on that. We develop resonance in the domestic market but also operate globally. We focus on being culturally aware and delivering advice always in context and never in a vacuum. We look for those skills in recruiting and develop them in our people.
We believe that globalization and the integration of markets is only on the increase. And our business model is founded on it! Therefore the ability to advise without borders is key, and being aware of local requirements while being able to come up with both global and local solutions is key.
So we need to give juniors exposure to those deals and exposure to our colleagues around the world. We make sure they’re spending time with each other; there's still a basis of this job that is face to face, for clients as well as colleagues. We invest in giving our junior lawyers the confidence to deliver.
Last November, all the US lawyers gathered in Philadelphia at a practice retreat, bringing all of our US lawyers from across the Firm together to have a shared view on how we’re doing what we’re doing, and to get visibility and energy from each other, enhance relationships, and deliver integrated advice across borders.
CA: Looking back on your career at Linklaters, what is the most important thing the firm has to offer?
TS: For us as a US practice, we’re giving us advice to the rest of the world. It’s a unique way of thinking about and approaching issues. Not that the US will always dominate or be the center of attention, but being a US lawyer at Linklaters gives one a unique ability to not only practice US law, but also to have a skill set that transcends borders.
If you want to develop a skill set that applies that in a global setting at a firm committed to growing practices with an ethos of teamwork and collegiality – do yourself a favor and give us a hard look. I’m confident we’ll stack up well.
1345 Avenue of the Americas,
- Number of domestic offices: 2
- Number of international offices: 28
- Worldwide revenue: £1,523.5million
- Partners (US): 43
- Associates (US): 161
- 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 2019: 17
- Clerking policy: Yes
- Summers joining/anticipated 2019: 21 (1Ls: 2, 2Ls: 26, SEO: 2)
- Summers joining/anticipated 2019 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 2019: 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
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.
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.
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2019
- Antitrust (Band 4)
USA - Nationwide
- Banking & Finance Recognised Practitioner