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

According to the survey of 132 firms, the average trainee retention rate was 78.2%, slightly down from 79.1% in 2012, with 157 fewer trainees given placements than in 2012.

Of the top 50 firms, Shoosmiths offered the fewest placements, retaining just nine of its 20 trainees (45%), despite offering 100% of its trainees placements 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% in 2012.

Antony Cooke, editor of the Chambers Student Guide, said the research provided a snapshot of 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 learned how to cope with shifts in demand.’

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

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