links trainees

A trainee contemplates qualifying on £107,500.

Linklaters trainees have been told to stop moaning about salaries to business services staff who earn far less.

The Magic Circle firm's London training principal called a meeting with trainees after one of them leaked an internal email to the press which explained that the firm was not gong to "rush into matching" higher NQ salaries at some of its competitors.

Whereas newly qualified solicitors at Linklaters and Allen & Overy are paid £107,500 after their firms decided to hold firm after two raises in 2021, their peers now get £110k at Baker McKenzie, £115k at Slaughter and May, and £125k at Freshfields and Clifford Chance (and £179k at Akin Gump).

In the meeting, the training partner told trainees not to bombard the Trainee Development team with their pay woes, and to speak to a partner if they had concerns about the NQ salary freeze. A source complained that the power imbalance between trainees and partners made it seem "like a move to silence trainees".

However, an insider suggested that the partner's request was driven by sensitivity to the fact that the Trainee Development team comprises non-lawyers who don't have the power to change salaries, and who don't earn anything like £107,500.

The Links partner also addressed the leaks in the meeting, telling trainees that he was "disappointed", and reminding them of the importance of confidentiality. That clearly didn’t work, even though "he avoided sending anything in writing so we can’t forward on the email", according to a source.

The "awkward" meeting ended with trainees declining to ask any questions, although another source said that was standard, and "no-one ever asks anything".

In the meantime, Linklaters' NQ salary is "still under review", said insiders, with ongoing debate at partnership level about whether or not to raise them again.

Linklaters declined to comment.

Tip Off ROF


Tone deaf 29 July 22 07:54

Seems an easy fix to quiet trainees by committing to paying them market rates, rather than expecting them in six months to work for less money than their competitors with higher billable targets than those competitors. 

the trainee development team are the de facto HR department for trainees and you would think the most appropriate ones for trainees to bring up the fact that salary freezes were announced after they signed their offers. 

Dogwarden 29 July 22 08:02

Sorry Tone deaf,  I dropped the world's smallest violin and had to pick it up.

Alternatively, if you don't like the firm, move.   If you move for £2.5k, you're a mover and a shaker..


Tone deaf 29 July 22 08:14

Who said I worked there? The sum is also closer to £20,000 than £2,500. Maybe try picking up a calculator while you’re down there picking up that violin. 

Anonymous 29 July 22 08:34

If trainees aren't happy with their NQ salary or hours, they should leave.

It's not rocket science.

Anon 29 July 22 08:39

Whilst these trainees are clearly whining like babies, it is deeply amusing that they are being lectured by partners who earn several million pounds a year and who in some cases will now be offering dubious value.  Ultimately, the partners can and will offload as many of the trainees as they like in order to keep that yacht sailing and little Rupert on the track to Eton.  Suggest to a partner they take slightly less than a million pounds from the trough and see what happens.

This happens 29 July 22 08:42

at my huge law firm as well oh i cant live on ex amount of thousands a month blah blah blah blah blah try our busines service salaries you spoilt silver spoon moaners do one, total snowflakes, christ.

What will make me happy 29 July 22 08:44

is when recession 2.0 hits ala 2008 and all these overpaid brats are having to clear their desks into iron mountain boxes and asked to leave the building pronto, karma huh.

DJcornflake 29 July 22 09:03

Half my NQ / trainee group was redundant 18 months after 2007. These guys have no idea about what happens as the economy falls apart through this year…. 

Ministry of Travers Truth 29 July 22 09:10

They need to take a leaf out of Travers Smith’s book and up their free canteen offering - nothing like a full belly on the house to quiet any discontent. However if anyone at Links is still feeling disquiet pls drop by the bishops finger pub in Farringdon and me and all of my friends (I mean my colleagues)  can try and convince you to join us !


As a side note I’m 25 single M looking for M/F and I only  date people at Travers

Mr Shine 29 July 22 09:27

@What will make me happy

all the more reason to ask for the money now then.  no-one is being kept on because they clapped along with the mission statement

lol 29 July 22 10:20

The comments here are so weird.

It is completely reasonable to feel aggrieved if you work at a top tier firm but are paid mid tier rates. Many of those trainees probably don't want to leave but ultimately feel their hand is forced by the below market rate of pay. To air those grievances up front gives the firm a chance to fix the issue before all the NQs leave, which Links are choosing not to do. Better than not saying anything and then silently leaving 6 months into the job for better pay elsewhere.  

Before anyone starts, I don't work at Links and I'm not a trainee - just trying to offer a different perspective to the out of touch comments on this so far.

UnvarnishedTruth 29 July 22 10:20

When this new generation of NQs decides to work past 6pm without throwing a hissy fit, they can then consider whether to claim they are worth the nearly 100% increase in salaries they have benefitted from over the past decade. 

EDavis 29 July 22 10:24

As a nearly 20 qualified senior associate out beyond the M25 earning less than £70k (very normal for a decent firm in the country)  my heart bleeds for these clueless NQs who largely couldn't manage to open a file less alone a transaction at this stage and whenever I have had a NQ from city firm on the other side I have found they actually know very little law at all.

LL have form 29 July 22 11:01

LL management and trainee development have predictably learnt nothing. This is a repeat of what happened in 2020 when there was a similar lack of transparency about salary communications and pay freezes/cuts were communicated at the eleventh hour and offhand despite contradictory memos published by the firm.

There was then, at that time, a similar leak to Roll on Friday, a "disappointed" call from the same trainee development partner and some scare mongering to try and get trainees to shut up and threaten SRA qualification because of some fictional breach of confidentiality. Rinse and repeat two years later it seems.


hmmm 29 July 22 11:15

Seems fair enough - don't whinge about your pay to someone paid less than you. Have the balls to talk to a millionaire partner or leave.

Anonymous 29 July 22 11:34

Have seen this at other firms


Entitled kids in their 20s moaning to support staff in their 30s to 50s about how low their pay is


Despite the support staff largely running the team for about 50-60% of an NQ salary

yoyo 29 July 22 11:51

The whole junior pay thing is much more nuanced than people seem to think. Always lots of comments about how partners on multi-millions should give more to juniors etc and they're just greedy if they don't etc, etc. The reality is that the MC firms, for example, are far less profitable than much of the US cohort and reallocation of profits is zero sum. If the MC pushed up associate salaries to the same level as the top US shops their PEP would take a hit and this would result in partner defections. Why would a senior Links partner take less than £2m when the first year of equity at K&E pays nearly $3m... There's no real answer to this and it is a massive issue for the MC/SC who are fishing for the same talent, demanding similar hours but are simply unable to match salaries while retaining partner talent.    

Andrea C 29 July 22 12:03

It was quite remarkable that both Linklaters and A&O said they weren’t going to be increasing on the same day. Surely a coincidence but often this is seen of evidence of cartel behaviour, indicating that the parties have agreed not to raise wages. I’m sure of course no partners in the two firms have ever discussed wages of associates with partners from the other firm, because this would constitute criminal conduct and would violate Chapter 1 of the competition act. The CMA is particularly interested in agreements between firms to set wages and raided a bunch of broadcasters on this as part of another investigation. Let’s hope no one raises this with the CMA.

Anonymous 29 July 22 12:06

As a fee-earner in another sector of professional services, I can confirm that lawyers are off the scale when it comes to spoilt, entitled behaviour over pay. Ridiculous levels of pay transparency and the whole associate lockstep are a cancer on the upper end of legal services.

Anon 29 July 22 12:09

It's a free market, if they don't like it, move. In my view it is still an outrageous amount given the very limited experience and value a NQ brings.

Anon 29 July 22 12:10

What I don’t understand is why trainees and NQs choose to train at / quality into a firm when they know that the pay and conditions will be less than some other firms.  If they don’t like it now, rather than trying to pressurise the partners into changing the model by leaking confidential emails to the press, why don’t they just leave?   If they are as good as they think they are then they can go and earn more money elsewhere. It’s called the market. 

ScottishTrainer 29 July 22 12:11

There are many reputable US firms which are at similar levels of profit to MC firms, and which pay their associates full Cravath rates - Shearman & Sterling, Ropes & Gray, Goodwin, White & Case, WSGR and WilmerHale (just to name a few).

The idea that MC firms can't afford salaries is pure fantasy.

Twiggy 29 July 22 12:41

Is transactional work pipeline slowing at Links or other MCs? Just don’t understand if there is any sign of “economic challenging conditions” as the Links management stated in their emails…

Anon 29 July 22 12:46

@ScottishTrainer 29 July 22 12:11


Shearman absolutely doesn't pay full Cravath rates in London (except to a very small number of NY-qualified associates). Pay is slightly below general market rate, with a special regime for leveraged finance associates which brings them up to market. 


US 5PQE 29 July 22 12:58

The increased in trainee remuneration will only result in less TC being offered over time and trainees being overworked. It’s genuinely a zero sum game. 

And that is exactly why you should work at an elite US firm. I’m on £260k excl. bonus and holiday allowances as a 5 peeker and man, I couldn’t help judging my MC peers during networking drinks. 

@Anonymous 29 July 22 13:02 29 July 22 13:14

UK/US firms are downsizing on US High Yield and redundancies are real when the associates are on US pay but have practically no work. About time to send the “NY qualified” attorneys home.  

Debt and PE are slowing down except for half a dozen of true elite US so can expect a mild bloodshed 

Je Suis Monty Don l’Autobus 29 July 22 13:39

Linklaters is an excellent law firm in many ways, but it doesn’t half wear its excellence heavily some time. Grey-faced, saggy-jowled, stolid and slow moving in how it deals with people stuff. This kind of thing is exactly the kind of thing Links is shit at.

Anonymous 29 July 22 15:06

@ ScottishTrainer 29 July 22 12:11

At similar levels of profit after paying those salaries, not before like Linklaters. Where do you think those pay rises would come from?

Anonymous 29 July 22 15:16

@Andrea C 29 July 22 12:03

This article is about LL and A&O being the minority bucking the trend of PQ pay rises. How exactly can a minority be a cartel? If the rest of the market is moving one way, I'd suggest it is of little consequence to either LL or A&O if the other firm acts the same way as them, and I can't think of any benefit to coordinating with just one other firm (certainly no benefit large enough to take the risk of being caught acting in an anti-competitive way). I think a coincidence as you noted.

Roscoe P. Coltrane 29 July 22 15:52

...record the next meeting with the training principal, and then leak the transcript - that'll teach him to try to silence the workers!

Anonymous 29 July 22 17:00

Trainees using the cost of living crisis as the catalyst to share their rem concerns has for sure not landed well with many working at Linklaters. With any luck, they’ll mature or move on. 

Anonymous 29 July 22 17:22

As long as they don't strike and beat up others who want to work for not striking, I'm fine.

Fees 29 July 22 19:09

To those commenters saying NQs are useless - if that's true, then why do their firms charge so much for them? 

Tired 29 July 22 20:42

@10:24 There’s always some regional big wig in the comments going on about being qualified for 50 years and being paid less than useless NQs in London and blah blah blah… 

Respectfully, mr regional big wig, that reflects on YOUR poor decision making more than anything else. 

Linkers 29 July 22 21:26

Salary bunching is real and partners and practice heads are constantly coming up with excuses to pay you less bonus. For example, I did over 2000 hours and wrote a few articles/chapters for Lexis for partners, only to be told that I need to do more extra-curricular and pay me a disappointing 10%.

The pay is so low that I could earn more working at a private fund and less hours. 

@20:42 29 July 22 21:44

Spot on.  

Even in the regions, @10:24 is woefully underpaid.  If you’re still earning 70k after 20 years in law, even up north (where I am) that only suggests a lack of ability or a lack of ambition.  Either way, you were never going to be where these NQs are, so don’t worry about it.

Andrea C 29 July 22 22:53

In response to the comment at 15:16, a price fixing agreement, or wage fixing in this instance, can be based on only 2 participants in the market where there’s lots of players. It’s called a “by object” infringement whereby you don’t need to show anticompetitive effects. That’s been the settled position for at least 30 years. It’s probably just a coincidence, but it’s a coincidence that competition authorities often see as evidence of illegal coordination. 

SecularJurist 30 July 22 01:19

Have to agree with EDavis @10:24 29th inst. on this one.

Is there any guarantee that the quality of work undertaken by the NQs be any better? Will SPs belittle their NQ charges and duplicate the work already done then bill the shocked client?

TBF, it seems that the City is almost as likely to produce muppets like Dumb-dick Raabish, one of the worst LC's ever (along with the weird baldy one and Liz Un-Trustworthy) and who know jack **** about the law as it is likely to produce top-notch professional advisers.

The pay rates as they stand make the NQs become entitled (not at Links, but generally), and once (or if) they  start having children, they are tied to the profession for life - no matter how toxic the firm's culture (I'm not referring to Links in particular), the terrible hours, no WLB - because they have to pay Tarquin's and Lucretia's school fees and the £1.5 million mortgage on an ugly 3-bed house on the borders of Wimbledon Village (but it's really in Rayne's Park).

Go regional or in-house, or after 3 years PQE specialise and go on your own. Or save up and take the money and run.

SecularJurist 30 July 22 01:36

People shouldn't criticise and speak condescendingly to the regional lawyer at 10:24 29/7.

Perhaps they made a choice.

That belittling is the typical London mentality.

There are those here who have got London Hate. So, with all due respect, it has nothing to do with poor decision-making or lack of ambition. Just a conscious choice to have a better quality of life.

Trusted advisor 30 July 22 14:29

I can see why young UK firm associates these days couldn’t help whinging about their remuneration because what elite US firms are paying make these brats green with envy. 

Having worked at a MC and an elite US I can confidently enunciate that training at a US firm is no good and this alone can be detrimental to your career. Be an obedient dog and you’ll have a future. 

Anonymous 30 July 22 19:59

Meanwhile, Links is desperately trying to deflect attention from this by putting out releases about how they adopted some legal tech tools that no one cares about or someone else (like Ashurst) has already been using for ages, or how they have retained most of the trainees who wouldn’t be around for long after qualification 

Work to live ❤️ ♥️ 💜 30 July 22 22:38

To Trusted advisor - Harsh comment but spot on. K&E and STB trained associates are hands down the worst in this market. To be fair though most US firm trained associates think they are top shite when their technical skills are completely hopeless compared to UK trained associates. If UK firms are willing to match US pay (or even get closer to the range) US firms will instantly lose their appeal to associates and cave in. Truthfully, it’s a bit shortsighted to work at a US firm for the pay and neglect the importance of training and development. In reference to the recent comments however I fear that the city would all  be packed with poorly trained, self-inflated, well remunerated associates. 

Giving my fair and objective view 31 July 22 11:22

Many naively neglect the fact that a £100k Nq salary is already incredibly generous for someone in her early to mid twenties with practically no experience. Those who expect even higher NQ salary (£150k+ like what a US offers) are delusional. You need to recognise your worth and be grateful for the opportunities you’re given. Fair enough? 

In all honesty London offices of a majority of US firms are no where as profitable as their US offices and some firms are struggling to meet targets when PE/finance work pipeline is drying up - I know this as a fact as someone who’s been asked to join a handful of elite US as a junior partner. The pie hasn’t grown much but the competition has become more fierce - it’s a zero sim game but no doubt the conservative firms with rock solid practice like Links and A&O will be the last men standing

Orwell 02 August 22 15:39

Many naively neglect the fact that a £100k Nq salary is already incredibly generous for someone in her early to mid twenties with practically no experience

Many naively neglect the fact that the generosity of the salary relative to experience is not the point - it is the relative paucity compared with (a) UK firms that are alleged outside their supposed peer group and (b) what the LL/A&O partners are on.

Buster Gonad 02 August 22 17:01

Trainees wailing about being paid 100k +, many of whom are fresh out of diapers and can't even wipe their own arses properly. Pathetic, juvenile, petulant, over compensated snowflakes. Try living on the breadline like the support staff you moan at.

MC associate 03 August 22 19:19

Relocated attorneys from Moscow have started to arrive to the London offices of MC/US firms. What do you think if they are real competitors for the Londoners? Or can they replace all NQ-escapees from LL or A&O to the US firms for additional c.20-40k?

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