For many years known as Linklaters & Paines, this magic circle firm dates its history back to the mid-1800s. It was prominent long before the concept of the magic circle existed, and in the 1930s was the largest firm in the City (with 11 partners). Along with Slaughter and May, Linklaters was the big beast of corporate law from the 1970s. It acted on many big Stock Exchange listings, as well as the wave of Thatcher-era privatisations. It also established
For many years known as Linklaters & Paines, this magic circle firm dates its history back to the mid-1800s. It was prominent long before the concept of the magic circle existed, and in the 1930s was the largest firm in the City (with 11 partners).
Along with Slaughter and May, Linklaters was the big beast of corporate law from the 1970s. It acted on many big Stock Exchange listings, as well as the wave of Thatcher-era privatisations. It also established a dominant bond department in the 1980s that underpinned much of its finance strength. The firm also built up its litigation practice in the 1970s under Bill Park, at a time when contentious work was not something handled by the top firms. Later on, litigation became less high profile than at some of the other magic circle firms but some big hires – Christa Band from Herbert Smith, Tom Cassels from Baker McKenzie and most recently former Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders – have shown commitment to grow the area.
In the 1990s under managing partner Terence Kyle, the firm made a major foray into Europe with Linklaters & Alliance, a partnership with a number of different European firms. Most of these eventually merged into Linklaters; although the profit profiles weren’t similar, there was a considerable amount of shake-out over the following decade.
One of these was orchestrated by managing partner Tony Angel, who in 2002 kicked off a project dubbed Clear Blue Water, which culled partners and looked seriously at profitability of certain lines The number of partners shrank from 410 in 2003 to 353 in 2006. The entire process caused huge cultural fallout with serious worry internally that the concept of collegiality and partnership at Linklaters had changed forever, but, long term, Angel’s arguments won out. The Clear Blue Water project has since become a case study at Harvard Business School.
Simon Davies took over as managing partner in 2008, having run Linklaters in Asia. His term in office has saw a number of changes to the structure of the magic circle firm, as well as its geographical breadth. The recession led to a big round of redundancies (initially dubbed Linklaters New World, although lawyers were later told to stop calling it that) but, unlike some other firms, Linklaters did it in one brutal cut.
Then in 2011 there was an attempt to oust Davies due to a restructuring of the partnership, in which a sizeable proportion of partners were asked to leave. Davies would eventually win a second term as managing partner, but stepped down early to take up a job at Lloyds banking group.
The firm signed an exclusive alliance with Australia’s Allens Arthur Robinson in 2012, stopping short of a full merger but working closely together. A similar arrangement with South Africa’s Webber Wentzel was sealed the same year.
In 2021, corporate star Aedamar Comiskey became the firm’s first female senior partner. Despite previously missing out on the top management job to Charlie Jacobs, Comiskey fought her way to one of the most prestigious practice head roles at Linklaters in the summer of 2016 – that of global head of corporate. It brought Comiskey closer to the heart of Linklaters’ decision-making processes in which the US and lockstep overhauls have long been on top of the agenda.
|Managing partner||Senior partner|
|1987||James Wyness (role created)|
|1991||Chris O’Gorman||Mark Sheldon & James Wyness|
|2016||Gideon Moore||Charlie Jacobs|
What is the trainee salary at Linklaters?
1st year trainee: £47,000
2nd year trainee: £52,500
What is the NQ salary at Linklaters?
NQ solicitor: £83,000