Linklaters - The Inside View

In need of an international firm with “impressive clientele” sooner rather than Later? These London giants may well be the missing Link. 

The idea of the British elite might conjure up images of stuffiness and an air of superiority, but despite the firm’s magic circle ties, Linklaters remains anything but. On this side of the pond, Linklaters is enjoying a burgeoning position within the US market. As one associate put it: “It gets you that experience of BigLaw, without being super big.” Yet it was the firm’s global prowess that really attracted the current crop of junior associates: “I was attracted to the international presence the firm has,” one told us, something that created “more of an international focus compared to other US firms.” How did this translate in the everyday? “You’ll be working with people in multiple different offices,” another source added, “which was great, because I wanted to use my language skills.” As chief operating officer Michael Brock adds: “What Linklaters does best is the cross-border, complex multijurisdictional transactions.” 

“It gets you that experience of BigLaw, without being super big.” 

It's this versatility that has bagged the firm top Chambers Global rankings for its multi-jurisdictional expertise in banking & finance, capital markets, competition/antitrust, corporate/M&A, employee benefits, and projects & energy, on top of privacy & data security US-wide and bankruptcy/restructuring in New York. We heard that most junior associates are housed in the firm’s New York office, with a handful located in DC too. 

Strategy & Future 

While nobody needs reminding of the firm’s standing in the UK, US market expansion has become “one of the firm’s key strategic priorities” as Brock is quick to point out. “Although we’ve been in the US market, all the way back to 1971, we’re looking to make some transformational growth here,” Brock tells us, “we currently have 41 partners and about 150 lawyers here, and we’re looking to significantly increase that level.” Links’ American expansion plans lay firmly within specific legal markets, rather than to open offices in new locations. For Brock: “We’re looking to focus on the corporate/M&A side in particular, and we’ll focus on New York and Washington DC where we already are.” In fact, the firm recently made three lateral partner hires, in addition to five associates to bolster the practice. There’s also been a big push in areas like tax, executive competition, FRG, financial regulation, real estate, and IP. “It’s a great time to be here because it’s all happening right now,” Brock explains, before adding, “if you were at Linklaters 10, 20 years ago, it’d all have been in the UK, Europe, and Asia, whereas now, the spotlight is on the US, so it’s a fun and exciting time!” 

Read more from Michael Brock under the 'Get Hired' tab.

The Work 

Over the summer, newbies familiarize themselves with the firm’s pool system, where first-years are put into a six-month rotational pool ready to be placed in groups. Though “you can choose” where you go “based on what’s available.” At the end of the six-month period, associates then rank their top five groups, and “they’ll place you as best they can.” Ideal for those who perhaps aren’t completely sure on their desired direction of travel, this flexible system gives associates an opportunity to dip their toes in a number of different parts of the pool.  

Linklaters’ finance group encompasses the likes of capital markets, investment funds, and financial regulatory work. With the latter split between funds and banks regulatory work, the clients predominantly consisted of – you guessed it! – funds and banks. One associate explained that “fund work is reviewing private placement memorandums” whereas the bank regulatory side involves “making sure banks comply with transaction documents and bank holding acts.” On the investment fund side of things, one source explained that, “we skew a little bit more towards fund formation work, whilst we also do a lot of conduit work.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, the finance group also included your more traditional capital markets and restructuring, banking, and leveraged finance work. Associate tasks here included “reviewing fund documents, researching, writing statutes, due diligence, and reviewing subscription documents.” 

Banking & finance clients: JPMorgan Chase Bank, Bank of America and Barclays Bank. Advised Gavi in the negotiation of a financing facility with U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to accelerate COVID-19 vaccine output.  

The dispute resolution group is where associates can find work relating to general commercial, white-collar, and antitrust. As one interviewee explained: “I’ve worked on commercial litigation within finance, business disputes, loan default situations, criminal defense, and investigations, working with individual defendants and businesses.” Whilst the day-to-day tasks “can really vary depending on how large the matters are,” the bread and butter was doc review – “that has to happen!” – research projects, motion drafting, research assistance, putting together exhibit lists and witness kits for depositions, taking the first draft of deposition outlines, writing responses to motions, and drafting client emails. Responsibility afforded to newbies was noted too – so much so, that sometimes “it’s just me and the partner on any given case!” 

Dispute resolution clients: Crédit Suisse, China Construction Bank, The Gabonese Republic. The group represented Nespresso in a class action lawsuit over the unlawful warranties attached to a number of the coffee giants’ products.  

Career Development 

“It’s about making sure people are on track to get to where they want to be – whether that’s counsel or partner.”

An important aspect of associate development at Links is regular feedback, with consistent meetings with partners where associates can discuss things like “how to develop management and writing skills, and about creating more opportunities to work on the areas in which you’re less comfortable.” As Brock explains, the firm’s official career development schemes are “multi-faceted,” with training, coaching, and mentoring available for all lawyers and business teams “at every stage of their career.” Associatesnoted that the firm pairs you up with a mentor upon joining the firm, with the primary aim to get associates comfortable asking questions as well as the support they need. Brock also highlights the firm’s recent push to advance what the firm calls ‘career conversations’ - “conversations about where associates are in their career, or where they need to focus a little more. That could relate to a technical or commercial point, or AI, or something else they feel they’re lacking.” The goal? “It’s about making sure people are on track to get to where they want to be – whether that’s counsel or partner.”  

Hours & Compensation 

Billable hours: unlimited

Described by the current crop as being “on the friendlier side compared to other New York firms,” associates noted that their billable hours target of 1,900 was “very achievable.” Not least in part because of the firm’s billable hours policy, whereby although capped, activity under the realm of DEI, pro bono, marketing, or personal study can count towards the overall requirement. Our sources mentioned how this included things like involvement in the firm’s affinity groups, watching practice area-specific development videos, and helping the firm out with recruitment. Whilst this remains a great way to “fill up” your hours, particularly when times are slow, “some groups are just hitting 13 hours of straight billable!” Daily hours generally range anywhere from 7-9 billable hours, with associates expected to appear in the office at least three days a week. 

Pro Bono 

According to our interviewees, “pro bono is something Linklaters really emphasizes,” and as a result, associates are given “unlimited powers” for such work with no meaningful cap. With a pro bono manager to help allocate work, one associate explained that “the firm is able to utilize pro bono in a way that allows juniors to really take ownership of a particular case. We get the experience of being the person to reach out to expert witnesses.” Others mentioned having achieved around 50 hours of pro bono work per year, with others in excess of 100. “Our firm is amazing with pro bono,” confirmed one, “associates are really encouraged to engage in pro bono.” We heard that cases range between things like immigration work, veterans’ rights, and reproductive rights, on top of individual representation and collaborating with larger organizations such as Lawyers Without Borders, a US non-profit helping raise judicial standards in developing countries. Thanks to the firm’s British roots, “we have lots of matters coming in from the UK too.” 

Pro bono hours:

  • For all (US) attorneys: 14,054
  • Average per (US) attorney: 79


“It’s not a yelling firm!” 

Our interviewees could only speak highly of the firm’s culture, and all pointed to a lack of a competitive vibe. In New York, as one source described, “we have office socials on Thursdays, with some food and drinks (including non-alcoholic)” giving people the chance to “spend time with each other and meet people you wouldn’t normally see.” Similarly, “everyone goes to the cafeteria to get lunch, which offers another opportunity to hang out with people.” The general consensus was that the firm’s emphasis on this more informal mentorship gave the feeling that the firm wants everyone to succeed. If that wasn’t enough: “It’s not a yelling firm!” one was quick to point out. In the daunting world of Big Law, isn’t that a relief?!  

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion 

Associates felt the firm does “a good job” with diversity across the board in terms of the representation of women, ethnic diversity, and LGBTQ+ in addition to DEI initiatives. Linklaters recently appointed a brand new DEI manager who is responsible for setting up events on top of managing the firm’s affinity groups. This was described as “a work in progress,” but one associate mentioned that “the firm is very serious about continuing this work and improving the process going forward.” Having made more of an effort “to recruit from everywhere,” the firm recently enacted its Race Action Plan which “matches diverse associates with sponsoring partners.” Hosted out of the London office: “It’s an opportunity for diverse attorneys to meet people globally and to establish relationships,” whilst it also provides training for anyone senior at the firm “to better understand DEI when it comes to recruiting and retaining diverse associates.”  

Get Hired 

The first stage: recruitment on and off campus 

OCI applicants interviewed: 409 

Interviewees outside OCI: 67 

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

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, 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.” –Tween 


Applicants invited to second stage interview: 160 

Callback interviews include five separate meetings. Students meet with one member of recruitment, two partners/counsel, and two associates, each for half an hour. Interviewers here ask behavioral questions that hone 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.” – Tween 

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

Summer program 

Offers: 43 

Acceptances: 21 

Our summer associates are part of a pool and typically work with several practice groups throughout the summer. They may also have an opportunity to spend a portion of their summer in one of our overseas offices. 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. 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 during their first six months at the firm. At the end of that period 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.” – Tween 

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

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.” 

Interview with Michael Brock, chief operating officer

Commercial strategy, market position and trends

Chambers Associate: How would you define your firm’s current position and identity in the legal market? What differentiates your firm from your peer firms in the market?

Michael Brock: What differentiates us? It depends what market you’re looking at. From a global perspective, we have a market leading position across all our practices globally. And therefore, we need to leverage that to push forward into the US market. What differentiates us though is the way we’re set up and structured, and that flows through into our culture. We’re very much a lockstep firm, and that infiltrates the culture, so that means that wherever you’re working, on any particular matter, you’re all looking to help each other out. What Linklaters does best is the cross-border, complex multijurisdictional transactions, and when you’ve got an infrastructure, all benefiting jointly and equally through that structure, then it really lends itself to the firm’s structure, culture, and profitability. And so when you join Linklaters that’s a clear differentiator particularly between a number of other US law firms who have a different compensation structure, different set of goals, and culture. That’s why we spend so much time in our training and development around teamwork, and making sure our lawyers understand how they can bring in other jurisdictions and practice groups.

But the US is one of the key strategic priorities for Linklaters at the moment. Although we’ve been in the US market, all the way back to 1971, we’re looking to make some transformational growth here. We currently have 41 partners and about 150 lawyers here, and we’re looking to significantly increase that level, so the US is a primary target for Linklaters. At the moment our focus - I think you could say is very much around corporate M&A. That was an area we hadn’t expanded as much as we wanted to over the last 10, 20 years and so there’s a big focus on M&A and private equity. And you see that through our recent hires. We recently hired a leading corporate partner, George Casey. He joined with two other partners and two associates to bolster the corporate M&A practice. We’ve also been pushing forward in areas like tax and executive competition, FRG, financial regulation, real estate, and IP, to build up what you see with Linklaters which is that we’re a full-service firm everywhere. It hadn’t been the case in the US until more recently, so we can then offer our clients a full service of all the practice areas we’re focusing on. The other one would be energy and infrastructure, particularly on the renewables side. We’ve brought in quite a few partners on that side in the past year. The other area we’re looking to grow is capital markets, particularly equity and debt markets. It touches a little bit on what we’re seeing with trends and what’s going on in the market and it’s fair to say that the transactional practices have been relatively quiet in the last year or so – corporate M&A was down, capital markets were closed. So, I think what we’re seeing is that that’ll be resurgent in the rest of 2024 and well into 2025. We think it’s a really great time to get into those areas.

CA: Have there been any developments at the firm over the past year that you’d like law students to know about?

Brock: From a practice perspective it’ll be litigation. We’re heavily invested in litigation, arbitration, and investigations – LAI, we call it. A large part of that has been down in our Washington DC office as we’ve been expanding there. But we’re also looking to develop the LAI offering in New York. The other practice which crosses a number of areas is our LatAm practice. We’re restructuring that a bit in that we’re bringing our Brazilian Sao Paolo office more strategically in line with our LatAm practice, and we’ve got a partner down in Sao Paolo, Matthew Poulter, who will head up the LatAm practice including Brazil from the start of the new financial year. And so, we’re really looking to expand and push into those areas.

CA: Are there any domestic or international events/trends that are affecting any of the firm’s practices at the moment? Are there any trends that you think are affecting the business of law firms more generally, and how is that playing out with your firm?

Brock: The core that runs through a lot of what we’re doing is that we’ve got tech and funds and energy and infrastructure, with a lot of opportunities I think for law firms, and flowing through those would be AI. Artificial intelligence and GenAI is obviously what’s taking up a lot of focus within the firm so that we can develop the area and that will run through all our various practice areas. And so leveraging that technology both for the benefit of clients and individual lawyers and the practice groups in general is key. There are a number of trends like that. Energy and infrastructure moving to renewables is clearly an area we’re moving into, ESG probably flows through all those as well. And so the plan when you look at the macro perspective is looking at what’s going on in the market, and then making sure Linklaters is in the right position to take advantage of that, and that’s why you start seeing Linklaters investing significantly in the US. It’s a great time to be here because it’s all happening right now. If you were at Linklaters 10, 20 years ago it’d all have been in the UK, Europe, Asia, whereas now the spotlight is on the US and so it’s a fun and exciting time!

CA: What opportunities for training and mentorship are on offer at Linklaters?

Brock: It’s multi-pronged and multi-faceted. There’s quite a wide variety of training and coaching, and I link mentoring into that as well. So those three areas are touching on our lawyers and business teams at every stage of their career. The benefit we have at the firm is that we have a large amount of training curriculum that covers the globe, and then it falls down into each of the local regional jurisdictions, and so our lawyers can benefit from the global programs as well as the local programs. We have the concept of regular and honest feedback, whereby we want to get that feedback into the associates and business teams as quickly as we can to help their performance. But it’s not just a question of having that training curriculum globally or locally. What we’ve been pushing in recent years are what we call career conversations - it’s not just an annual appraisal (those still go on) - but they’ll have conversations about where they are in their career, or where do they need to focus a little more. That could relate to a technical or commercial point, or AI, diversity or something else they’re lacking. The career discussions are very much focused on making sure people are on track to get to where they want to be whether that’s counsel or partner or so on. So, it’s quite a robust and professional development program. In the US it’s interesting because we’ve just hired a new head of HR – a lady called Angela Galindo. Her background is investment banking and law firms. But it’s very much on the professional development side and that’s an area we really want to expand, and we really want to make sure we’re developing our people to retain and promote them.

Inside the Firm

CA: How is the firm evolving to accommodate the needs/expectations of the next generation of lawyers?

Brock: Post-pandemic, everyone’s struggled with how to bring people back and how to get them back into the fold. We had a flexible working policy a couple years before the pandemic which served us very well. It allowed people to be 50-80% of the time in the office, so our people already had the ability to work elsewhere and the technology allowed them to do that. Post-pandemic we retained that policy, but I think what’s happened is that our lawyers are coming in more anyway. We’re seeing everybody come in 3 days a week minimum, or some do 4 days week. You don’t always see that at other firms. When we moved to this new building, we put in quite a large kitchen and cafeteria which acts as a hub. You do see friends and colleagues meeting over breakfast or lunch, and so people think “oh now I want to come into the office”, but we have retained that flexible working policy. One of the articles that came out over the weekend which was around mental wellbeing and mental health was asking firms and law schools to make sure they’re aware of the pressures that people are suffering from the early stages of law school and when they come into law firms. And so again, that’s a core area for us. This week we’ve got - there’s a doctor running a series of workshops for us - which are entitled ‘culture of compassion for inclusion and resilience’, and everyone in the Americas will join a workshop to go through all the issues and pressures everyone has outside of work that may lead into work. This is to provide a safe space and to destigmatize it to help people out and so that’s a major focus for us.

CA: What’s the firm’s approach to bolstering diversity, equity, and inclusion?

Brock: There are a number of targets for promotions. We always look for a minimum 40% target for newly promoted partners to be female. It’s not a target as such, but we have a heavy focus on black and ethnic minority associates coming into the firm. Our view is that we should be a mirror of the society that we work in. That drives a lot of it. We have a number of initiatives within the firm. The one to note: a chap called Roger Fairfax was recently the dean of Washington College of Law at the American University in DC, he worked with us for a year, going through all the areas of diversity across the Americas and across the US practice. He’s just left the university, but we have an action plan that came out of working with Roger that goes from making sure we’re committed at the recruitment stage, and then retention, promotion, and having that DE&I culture running through it. But it’s something that’s very much front and centre of what we do.

The Legal Profession

CA: How do you predict the legal profession will change in the next five years? Are there any particular challenges the industry is facing?

Brock: I think firms like us, which cover so many different areas and jurisdictions, we have to constantly be looking at what’s going on from a macroeconomic perspective. We’re right-sized and well positioned around the globe, so that’s an area we’ll focus on. We talked about GenAI impacting us. We want to be in a position that whatever the market’s doing, whatever our clients need us to do, that we have that capability. As we’ve seen in the last year, corporate M&A and capital markets are down, restructuring, insolvency, litigation invariably is up. We want to create a firm that can cover our clients in each jurisdiction, wherever they have those requirements. It’s not quite trendspotting, but it’s certainly front and center of our strategy. What is also part of any good strategy is also knowing what we’re not going to do. We are going to focus on the corporate M&A side significantly, and we’ll focus on New York and Washington where we are. We can then hone in on what we’re very much focused on.

CA: How do you predict the rise in AI will affect the ways in which lawyers work? How will it affect the services law firms provide?

Brock: In terms of AI, we have our own ChatGPT chat bot called Laila which is designed in-house, it’s effectively a secure version of ChatGPT. Paul Lewis our Managing Partner has just made it mandatory for everyone to have training in GenAI across the firm, so you have to do 3 workshops to understand how you’re going to use it within your practice or within the business.

The Fun Bit

CA: Is there any advice you’d give to your younger self starting out your career?

Brock: Building your own network is super important. As you join a firm, you join an office, a function, a practice group. Clearly you need to take the time to learn everything about the area or practice inside and out, but you need to think about the macro picture. And that’s why I talk about building your network, getting to know people in other practices and offices, and seeing how you can impact them and vice versa. You build up your network and leverage, and then it’s much easier to build a brand and do whatever aspirations you have. Doing it on your own is not the right way to do it. I think that’s one of the things the firm does offer as it’s very internationally minded. It encourages people to visit other places and offices and get to know the business of law.

CA: The hours in BigLaw can be punishing. How do you unwind at the end of a long day/week?

Brock: It’s a really good point. That’s why you do see within the industry there’s the risk of people burning out far too quickly and not being able to de-stress. It’s something everyone should pay attention to. The question is you have to work out the release valves, for me it’s through exercise. We have a lot of gyms you can go to, subsidized, and we encourage everyone to do that, to get out, and just to decompress away from the office so you can come back slightly more refreshed than before. It might not be exercise; it could be something else social. But we run a number of other groups within the firm whether it’s affinity groups linked to DEI, and that can be another area that helps destress people. You can get together with the group or be a sponsor, which can make you feel a lot more positive about what’s going on within the firm.

CA: Is there a movie/TV show/books about lawyers or the legal profession that you particularly enjoy? And how accurate would you say it is?

Brock:No, I don’t think so. I can’t comment on that! I just stay away from it. When I’m in down time that’s the last thing I want to do!


1290 Avenue of the Americas ,
New York,
NY 10104

Main areas of work

  Antitrust/competition, banking, bankruptcy, restructuring and insolvency, capital markets, corporate/M&A, data solutions, cybersecurity and privacy, 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 31 offices in 21 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.


Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2024:
Brooklyn, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Emory, Fordham, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, Howard, Michigan, NYU, Penn, St John's, 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:

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 gain experience in a variety of practice areas 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 end of the summer. 

Social media

Recruitment website:

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2023

Ranked Departments

    • Antitrust (Band 4)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Antitrust: Cartel (Band 3)
    • Derivatives (Band 3)
    • Privacy & Data Security: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
    • Private Equity: Fund Formation (Band 4)
    • Projects: Power & Renewables: Transactional (Band 3)