Legal Business Blogs

Retention round up: UK firms score top marks on trainee job offers

Despite the wave of redundancies and poor financials of late, firms are still posting high retention rates of junior lawyers who can almost all breathe a sigh of relief this coming September. However, not every firm has been as generous this year as they were last summer – a sign that supply is still outstripping demand in many areas.

The latest is Magic Circle firm Linklaters which yesterday (31 July) announced a retention figure of 87%, equating to 47 offers (of which all were accepted) out of 54 trainees. This figure is up considerably on last summer, where the rate fell to 79%.

Fellow Magic Circle firm Slaughter and May gave the most impressive results with a rate of 90% – up marginally on last year – offering placements to 46 trainees, while Clifford Chance confirmed 80% of its 60 trainees had been retained, up from 77% in 2012.

However, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer posted an 81% retention rate this year, down eight percentage points on a year ago, keeping 39 of its 48 trainees. DLA Piper, the world’s largest law firm by revenue, posted a sizeable gap between it and the rest with a rate of 73%. A total of 77 trainees applied for the job, 60 offers were made and 56 were accepted. Last year 83% of trainees were kept on.

Other City firms to illustrate positive retention rates last week included Herbert Smith Freehills, with an 88% retention rate where 30 out of 34 applicants received an offer, while Mishcon de Reya posted a rate of 86%, keeping six out of seven trainees at the firm. Ashurst came marginally behind with a rate of 80%, retaining 24 trainees out of 28 applicants.

And despite making job cuts following a sustained slump in market activity, top-20 City firm Berwin Leighton Paisner surprised many by posting a retention rate of 86%, offering positions to 18 out of 21 of its trainees.

Elsewhere, Mills & Reeve revealed a retention rate of 85%, or 17 out of 20. While Trowers & Hamlins will retain six out of seven newly qualified lawyers giving it a score of 95%. This despite the firm having to make four-fee earners redundant in May and follows the 332-lawyer firm’s announcement that global net profit slid by 21% this year, with PEP down to £307,000 and revenue down 3% to £78.3m.