Deciding between training contracts

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by GlamB, Sep 15, 2020 at 11:42 AM.

  1. GlamB

    GlamB Active Member

    Messages:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    47
    TCLA Credits:
    110
    Hi everyone,

    I found myself in a bit of a difficult situation and everybody on here has always been extremely helpful, so I thought I'd canvass some opinions and see what everyone's thoughts are! Let me preface the whole thing with saying that I understand how extremely lucky I am to even be facing this dilemma and that never in a million years would I have thought that I would get a single TC in this cycle given the personal struggles I've faced in the past two years.

    I was very lucky to have received TC offers from Freshfields and Linklaters after completing summer vac schemes with them. With everything being virtual this year, I'm finding it a lot more difficult to decide between the firms particularly because the vac schemes were conducted very differently.

    I really loved my time at Linklaters and the vacation scheme quite closely resembled their in-person vac schemes including having training principals, access to their internal systems and being given work. I found the Freshfields vac scheme a lot more presentation-focused and it was quite hard to connect with people from around the firm. Going purely off of my vac scheme experience I would probably go with Linklaters but I have a feeling that I might be judging Freshfields unfairly given how limited my experience there was. Has anyone on here experienced an in-person vac scheme at Freshfields?

    I don't know if this is a general consensus but in my friendship circle, Freshfields is perceived to be a bit more ''prestigious'' than Linklaters. I've been caught up in this decision-making process for so long that I can no longer tell if this is just the subjective feeling of people around me or if there is some truth to it. What are everyone's thoughts on this?

    Lastly, while I'm not really thinking about going elsewhere post-qualification, I'd like to keep my options open. Would you say that any of the firms is viewed more favourably by other firms, say the US firms/MC/SC firms?

    Any other points I should consider are welcome! I know that in the end, the decision will be mine to make but I'd love to hear what everybody's thoughts are/which firm you would pick!:)
     
  2. Jaysen

    Jaysen Legendary Member
    Staff Member

    Messages:
    3,213
    Trophy Points:
    204
    TCLA Credits:
    11,021
    Tagging @D and @Alice G as they may have some useful thoughts here. @Romiras may also be able to help. Although about a different comparison, this post from TCLA's Trainee Network may be helpful:

     
  3. Alice G

    Alice G Legendary Member
    TCLA Moderator

    Messages:
    1,328
    Trophy Points:
    152
    TCLA Credits:
    3,395
    Hi there,

    Firstly, a HUGE congratulations to you!!

    Just from the outset, may I ask you what you would consider being your top priorities/criteria for a firm?

    The question of suitably really always boils down to the candidate and who you are as a person so it might help to get an idea of this first :)
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Jessica Booker

    Jessica Booker Legendary Member
    Graduate Recruitment

    Messages:
    2,902
    Trophy Points:
    147
    TCLA Credits:
    9,180
    I guess I am fortunate to have worked at both firms, albeit some time ago and even longer ago. The firms are very similar in terms of prestige and future career opportunities - I really couldn't separate them out on that alone. Although I suspect it may depend on where you qualify into - each firm will have stronger departments/practice areas than the other, and also stronger connections to places outside of the UK (but both are very strong globally).

    From my perspective and opinion they are very different firms culturally though. I get that it will have been difficult to pick that up from virtual schemes. Its just my opinion, but Links are probably a bit more direct/driven, while Freshfields felt a lot more collaborative. Both firms are "cut-throat" but in slightly different ways.

    I'd also think about the training contract structure and opportunities within the training contract - that will be different too. If you have particular interests in different practice groups or sectors, then one firm will be stronger than the other in some instances. Getting seats or secondments in those areas will also vary between firms. If you are open to which practice areas you undertake in your TC, then consider things like how many seats you can do, whether there are any compulsory seats etc and weigh that up against your preferences.

    My advice would be to contact both firms and see if there is anyway you can visit the office ahead of you making the decision of which firm to accept (obviously if you are happy to visit). Explain you have two offers and that you would be keen to get more of a feeling for the day to day workings of the firm given you didn't get this from your virtual schemes. It may just be a case of shadowing a trainee for a few hours, but Freshfields used to offer this as a way to help people make the right decision post offer. Understand that might not be possible with Covid restrictions but as I understand it people are back in the offices for both firms, so it might be possible and there is no harm in asking.

    You may want to try and track down alumni on LinkedIn who have worked at both firms and get their opinion. Having had a quick search of my network there are some. I would search with the words "associate" and the two firm names and then filter by current employer and maybe try to find someone who has gone from Links to FBD and another person who has gone from FBD to Links.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  5. Ren97

    Ren97 Distinguished Member

    Messages:
    58
    Trophy Points:
    52
    TCLA Credits:
    316
    Hey there! First off huge congratulations on your two TC offers.

    I was in a similar predicament last month and posted a similar question (Jaysen has already linked you to the thread).

    For full disclosure, the firms I was deciding between was L&W and Bakers (I also received an offer from a SC firm which wasn't much of a contender for me anyway). In terms of prestige I think Latham wins by a mile. They're growing in London (and elsewhere), highest NQ salary in London, second largest law firm in the world by revenue, and so much more. I ended up going with Bakers anyway predominantly because they offer a larger range of seats - more contentious work, their "support" teams aren't just support teams (they do amazing employment, tax, competition work distinct from M&A transactions), and they still do great transactional work. I will ultimately be able to make a better decision about the exact kind of lawyer I want to be there than somewhere where a vast majority of the seats have a transactional element to it. There were quite a few other factors like work-life balance and culture that made a difference for me.

    In hindsight, there is a part of me that will look back for quite awhile I expect and think "What if I had chosen the other firm?" but I think maybe anyone whose ever had to juggle multiple offers will always have that feeling.

    One final thought on the question of prestige, when I was deciding I spoke to an associate who had moved from a US firm to Bakers and she told me that when she accepted her TC with the US firm some 6-10 years ago, people said she was crazy to not pick the MC firm who had offered her because at that time they were more "prestigious". Prestige can be a fleeting concept and something that will change as the market changes. Ultimately go where you think you will have the best opportunity to explore your interests and where you will really and truly enjoy working those long hours at. FF and Links are both great firms and either way you can't go wrong.
     
    #5 Ren97, Sep 15, 2020 at 12:56 PM
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020 at 1:03 PM
    • Friendly Friendly x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Adam Gilchrist

    Adam Gilchrist Distinguished Member
    Future Trainee

    Messages:
    59
    Trophy Points:
    52
    TCLA Credits:
    299
    I know of course this isn't at entry-level, which is what this thread is about, but the fact that Freshfields actually completely broke their lockstep model of partner pay (as opposed just to tweaking it with superior pay as CC & A&O did) in order to entice partners like David Higgins & Ward McKimm suggests there isn't so much of a collaborative approach at the top end. I know all of the MC now uses ladders/superpoint pay to reward some partners over others, but they all retain their lockstep other than Freshfields. That said, I know discussing partner PEP is fairly pointless given most people will never get there anyway.
    I really think it's quite subjective here, ranking MC firms on prestige is a bit like people on TSR having their monthly thread of which RG is better, or whether Oxford or Cambridge is better. Some firms are more prestigious in some legal practice areas, it is true, but I think an overall ranking isn't really a thing. In terms of this, if you really, really have a hankering to go in for a particular practice area, then maybe go for the firm that is better at that ( Chambers & Partners is a good starting point), but keep in mind that you may change your mind anyway once you actually start your TC and do a seat in that practice area.
    As other people have said, think about what the most important factors are for you in your career, and see if one firm fits the bill more. Equally, keep in mind that for the first few years it'll be a slog at either firm, and lateral hires are fairly common between MC firms (can be different at partner level depending on the firm, but that's really of no interest at this stage), so if you suddenly get a burning passion to transfer to Freshfields from Linklaters (or vice versa) at 3 PQE or 6 PQE, it probably shouldn't be too difficult as long as you've done well.
     
  7. Jessica Booker

    Jessica Booker Legendary Member
    Graduate Recruitment

    Messages:
    2,902
    Trophy Points:
    147
    TCLA Credits:
    9,180
    The lockstep model doesn’t really foster collaborative culture either though.

    I can only go by what I experienced - and as a non-lawyer that could be very different too, even when compared to a trainee.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Romiras

    Romiras Esteemed Member
    Trainee

    Messages:
    84
    Trophy Points:
    57
    TCLA Credits:
    271
    On top of my answer that @Jaysen had quoted, I can add a bit of perspective on FF/Links.

    Linklaters is a fairly balanced firm (in terms of all around practice strength), but Freshfields is a much better corporate firm. Especially in terms of PE (where Linklaters isn't as big of a player like CC, FF, Kirkland, Latham). Therefore depending on what you see yourself doing long term, you may want to pick FF/Links based on its practice strength (and market reputation with respect to their strengths). Although, you must always question what any of these differences / points mean to you. For example, in terms of lateraling at NQ stage, whether you pick FF or Linklaters will not really materially impact you (even if it is for a Corporate role in another firm). You could also consider the types of clients that you may want to work with.

    As for the prestige between FF and Links, they're essentially negligible (in terms of market sentiment / lateraling) and infinite in variation between friends and onlookers. For example, there are many ways to argue prestige: "FF is more prestigious because they pay more at NQ level or have a better PE department.", "Linklaters is more prestigious because they are better at a lot of other practice areas and has a better Africa / Asia practice", etc.

    I'd focus on what matters to you, and perhaps that may be the personal experience of being a trainee at said firm. I don't think you can discount the culture that you've "unearthed" from the vacation scheme. The two firms do have very different cultures (between themselves and across each firm's own practice areas). However, it is often a personal experience. I will say this though, if you want a friendly experience, you may want to avoid the FF Corporate / FIDG team.

    You should also consider the secondment opportunities and the firm's training contract structure. Between the two firms, FF has a far more flexible training contract structure. It still uses the traditional Grad Rec Decides for you + Preferences model, but it is also influenced by merit (you get rated 1-5 each appraisal). You will get the international secondment of choice if you've done well compared to your peers, so in a sense, you have control over this process. Linklaters (depending on when you become a trainee) are looking to adopt Clifford Chance's seat bidding point system, where you will need to bid points and win your seats based whether you have out bid others. There are pros and cons to this system (as with the FF model), which you should consider. FF may have more interesting client secondments (like Silicon Valley) - so consider that too.
     
    • Informative Informative x 3
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  9. D

    D Legendary Member
    Future Trainee

    Messages:
    283
    Trophy Points:
    149
    TCLA Credits:
    1,185
    Late to the party here!

    I would pick Freshfields if the following are important to you:

    - More variety in your TC
    - Excellence in both Corporate and Litigious work

    In my view - This is really what makes FF stand out in the MC.

    I didn't apply to LL so my knowledge of the firm is restricted to an open day in the basement of their Barbican office.

    Something anecdotally to consider - FF were the first MC firm to raise their pay to £100k, and did so as they (allegedly) saw the value in upping pay to recruit the best candidates. LL on the other hand not only were the last firm to match the £100k, but they did so kicking and screaming, with the managing partner essentially claiming they had been pressganged into it as all of the other firms have followed suit. Personally? This spoke volumes to me. While I appreciate it is PR, I just thought, this is not the place I want to work.

    One last point - The new office for FF looks gorgeous! You'll have much longer to wait at LL for that :)

    Personally? Go with your gut. Training at either firm is going to give you limitless possibilities in the future. You'll be able to lateral without issue. You will have great training.

    Congratulations, and hopefully I'll get to see you in the Bishopsgate office soon along with @Alice G :D
     
    • Winner Winner x 1

Share This Page