City firm Travers Smith has topped the trainee retention ranking this year, offering placements to 22 trainees, 95.7% of its 2013 intake, according to research from the Chambers Student Guide

The average trainee retention rate was 78.2 %, down from 79.1% in 2012, with a total of 157 fewer trainees taken on compared with 2012, according to a survey of 132 firms.

Out of the top 50 firms, Shoosmiths offered the fewest placements retaining nine trainees of its 20 trainees (45%), down from 100% in 2012.

Trowers & Hamlins recorded the largest increase in trainee retention from last year, offering placements to 19 of its 20 trainees (95%), compared with 65% of its intake in 2012. 

Antony Cooke, editor of the Chambers Student Guide, said the research provided a snapshot in a fluctuating market.

‘While the figures can point towards a firm’s economic health, how it structures staff on assignments or its attitude towards trainees, we should not always take these figures at face value; recently there have been some bold movements as firms have learnt how to cope with shifts in demand.’ 

But the research found certain firms have consistently posted strong retention figures over the last five years, with Slaughter and May and Burges Salmon having maintained a retention rate of around 85% of their qualifiers.

Firms that have consistently posted lower than average retention rates over the past five years include Mayer Brown, Dentons and Olswang, it said.