Legal Business Blogs

Summer retention 2013/14: RPC posts 100% trainee retention rate as CMS sees rate drop to 67% post Dundas tie-up

City firm RPC is the latest to reveal its trainee retention rates this summer, and has announced it will keep all 15 trainee solicitors who applied to qualify this year, constituting the second time the firm has achieved a 100% rate since 2010. Meanwhile, CMS Cameron McKenna posted more modest results and confirmed a retention rate of 67.2%, with the firm’s London office keeping the lion’s share of trainees.

For RPC, the results signal a consistently positive retention rate for the firm, which kept 100% in 2011; 80% in 2012; and 81% last year.

RPC managing partner Jonathan Watmough said: ‘We invest a lot of time and money in our trainee recruitment 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 at the firm.’

‘We have a very good record of retaining a high percentage of our trainees which is testament to the rigour of our recruitment process and the quality of our development programme throughout the training contract.’

‘We look to attract a very specific kind of person – someone who’s as interested in understanding business as learning the law, and who has the breadth of experience and range of interests to bring a different perspective to the advice they give their clients.

‘Given the quality I see coming through year on year the future success of RPC is in good hands.’

For Cameron McKenna, a breakdown of the results will see 21 join the City office; four join the Bristol office; 10 take a position in Edinburgh; three join in Glasgow; and three in Aberdeen.

The results are a marked shift downwards on last year’s results which saw the firm hold onto 28 out of 34 newly qualified lawyers that September, equating to a retention rate of 82%.

Graduate recruitment partner Simon Pilcher attributed the lower results to the firm’s recent combination with beleaguered Scots firm Dundas & Wilson that went live in May. He explained: ‘We have a significant increase in the number of trainees qualifying in August compared to last year (61 trainees this year compared to 34 last year). 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 with 41 trainees accepting roles with us. This represents an increase of 46% compared to the number of roles offered in the August qualification round last year and a 64% increase in comparison to Aug 2012.’

Other results to emerge in recent weeks include Magic Circle firm Linklaters which kept 93% of qualifying trainees in its latest cohort and Mayer Brown which said in late July it kept ten (or 67%) of trainees for September 2014. More evidence of the firm’s intention to scale back includes plans to cut its September 2016 trainee intake by half, and take in just ten applicants compared to its usual 20-strong group.