Many firms are taking advantage of more benign economic conditions this year and keeping on more of their qualifying trainees.
This year’s trainee retention rates reflect a bullish outlook among major firms, according to a snap survey by the Gazette.
Reynolds Porter Chamberlain, Fieldfisher and US firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges are among those to have announced that they will keep 100% of trainees qualifying this autumn.
City-headquartered RPC said it will retain all 15 trainee solicitors who applied to qualify at the firm this year, making it the second time in four years the firm has achieved a 100% rate. Last year it retained 13 of its 16 trainees (81%).
Managing partner Jonathan Watmough said: ‘We invest a lot of time and money in our trainee programme, and set the bar for qualification very high. It’s always particularly pleasing, therefore, when we get such an outstanding group who make the grade, and doubly gratifying when we are able to offer them all positions.’
London firm Fieldfisher kept on all 11 of its newly qualified solicitors, an increase on the 71% retention rate last year when the firm retained 12 of its 17 qualifiers (70%).
They will be spread among the dispute resolution, finance, funds, IP/IT litigation and enforcement, public regulatory and technology, outsourcing and privacy groups.
Weil, Gotshal & Manges retained all 11 of its qualifiers.
National firm TLT retained all six of its trainees. Last year, four out of its five qualifiers were kept on.
Of the magic circle, Slaughter and May offered jobs to all of its 34-strong cohort of trainees and all but one decided to stay with the firm. Its 97% retention rate was up on 88% last year when the firm kept on 46 of its 51 qualifiers.
Linklaters offered 54 of its 57 final trainees jobs; 53 accepted in a 93% retention rate.
Fellow magic circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer offered jobs to 38 of the 45, with all but one accepting. Its 82% retention rate is roughly the same as last year, when it kept on 39 of its 48 qualifiers (81%).
Clifford Chance kept on 40 of its cohort of 53 (75%), down from last year when 51 (80%) of the 60 qualifiers stayed with the firm.
International firm Taylor Wessing announced that it will retain 91% of its trainees, 20 of 22.
Three will qualify into the firm’s real estate practice; three into intellectual property; two into corporate, commercial and projects; two into disputes & investigations; two into private equity; and two into private client. One trainee each will qualify into construction; corporate finance; corporate technology; finance; IT, telecoms and competition, and tax & incentives practices.
Graduate recruitment partner Kirstie McGuigan said: ‘Having seen this group of trainees develop over the past two years it’s fantastic to see such a high number staying on with the firm.’
Herbert Smith Freehills kept on 41 of its 47 autumn qualifiers (87%), down slightly on the 88% retention rate last year, when it kept in 30 of the 34 final seaters.
US firm White & Case kept on 12 of its 14 qualifiers, making its retention rate 86%.
Of the 25 qualifiers at City firm Macfarlanes, the firm offered jobs to 22 – all but one accepted, while three trainees chose not to apply. Its 84% retention rate was up on the 75% last year when 18 of the 24 trainees were kept on.
Senior partner Chris Martin said: ‘We aim to be in a position where all our trainees want to stay at the firm and we are able to offer them all jobs in the areas that they want to build careers in. There are various reasons why either or both sides of the equation may not always work and that means we do not often get 100% retention. Having said that, overall, we are pretty satisfied with the 2014 figures,’ he said.
International firm Withers retained 10 of 12 qualifiers (83%), up from 71% of the 14 who qualified last autumn.
Berwin Leighton Paisner offered roles to 16 of its 18 final-seat trainees, with 15 accepting, giving an 83% retention rate. This is slightly down on last year, when it kept on 18 of the 21 qualifiers (86%).
Training principal Anthony Lennox said: ‘We are very pleased to once again be able to retain such a high percentage of our trainees. They are the future of the firm and we are committed to their development and career progression.’
City firm Nabarro offered places to 14 of 16 and retained 13 (81%), slightly down on last year’s 83% retention rate when it kept on 15 of its 18 qualifiers. Ten of the new trainees will qualify into the firm’s London office and three will work in Sheffield.
International firm Jones Day kept on eight of the 10 qualifiers, slightly down on last year when it retained nine out of 11 (91%).
Hogan Lovells kept on 27 (77%) of the 35 newly qualified trainees, up slightly from last year when it retained 25 of the 33 trainees (76%).
Norton Rose Fulbright also retained 77% of its autumn crop, keeping on 17 of the 22 qualifying cohort. This is a fall on last autumn when it kept on 24 of the 26 qualifiers (92%).
Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co, created in May following the merger of Wragge & Co and Lawrence Graham, also keeps 77% of its final-seat trainees – 30 out of the 39 cohort.
King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin announced it will retain 73% of its newly qualifieds. Of 22 trainees qualifying in September, 18 applied for roles with 16 of those retained by the firm.
Before its merger last autumn with Asia Pacific firm King & Wood Mallesons, SJ Berwin kept on 14 of its 19 qualifiers – also 73%.
Training principal Nicola Bridge said: ‘We offer our trainees the opportunity to get involved in large, cross-border pieces of work with lawyers from offices right across the firm. In particular, we are already actively exploring trainee secondments in our new offices, in addition to those European and Middle Eastern secondments that we already offer.’
London firm Mishcon de Reya kept on eight of the 11 qualifiers (72%), which compares with 86% last year when it retained six of its seven trainees.
International firm Stephenson Harwood retained seven of its 10 autumn qualifiers, fewer than last year when it kept on eight of the 10 qualifiers.
Following its merger with Scottish firm Dundas & Wilson, CMS Cameron McKenna took on almost twice as many newly qualifieds as it did last year, retaining 41 of the 61 (67%). Of the qualifiers, 21 will join the London office, four will go to Bristol, 10 are in Edinburgh and three each will be based in Glasgow and Aberdeen.
Graduate recruitment partner Simon Pilcher said: ‘As a result of the combination with Dundas & Wilson, we have a significant increase in the number of trainees qualifying in August compared with last year (61 trainees this year compared with 34). As a consequence, due to the volume of trainees the overall retention rate is regrettably lower than in previous years.
‘However we are in a strong position as a firm post-merger and were therefore able to offer more NQ positions than last year.’