Magic circle firm Linklaters will recruit graduates online this autumn if lockdown restrictions are still in place, as the City grapples with how to select and train junior lawyers out of the office.

Linklaters said it plans to recreate an assessment day online, with candidates completing a timed exercise, a partner interview and an interview with human resources as normal. It said the TopScore system – which the firm has already used to recruit graduates in Australia – is ‘very interactive and user friendly’ and has been well received by candidates.

Graduate recruitment partner Alison Wilson said her experience of interviewing online was ‘positive overall’.

‘It takes practice. Normally when you interview someone you walk with them from reception... You don’t get the same gradual start to an interview online and you have to work hard at the start to put candidates at ease.’ She added that virtual interviews tend to be more tiring for candidates, but ‘you still get a good sense of their capabilities’.

Alison Wilson

Graduate recruitment partner Alison Wilson

City firms are also considering what to do with trainees starting work this autumn. ‘This is an unfortunate situation for students across the years. Learning about the firm is going to be more difficult for them. And, for us, learning about who they are as individuals is equally challenging,’ Wilson said. ‘It’s one thing for a senior lawyer to think a remote office works just as well, but for junior lawyers it can be different.'

International firm DLA Piper, which has one of the City’s biggest graduate intakes, has staggered its trainee start dates, offering graduates £10,000 to delay until August 2021. Meanwhile, new trainees at Irwin Mitchell have seen their start date pushed back from August 2020 to February 2021.


*The Law Society is keeping the coronavirus situation under review and monitoring the advice it receives from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Public Health England.