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Trainee retention: Latham and Kirkland report contrasting City rates as Magic Circle firms start to post 2017 figures

Latham & Watkins has managed to retain 95% of its City trainees in its latest round, contrasting with Kirkland & Ellis, which has kept on just over half of its cohort.

Meanwhile Allen & Overy (A&O) and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer posted their autumn trainee retention rates this week.

Latham has kept on 21 of the 22 trainees for 2017, strengthening its corporate, finance and litigation departments. Numbers have improved from last year when the US firm kept 17 of 20, or 85% of its trainees.

In contrast Kirkland’s City office only managed to retain 56% of its nine trainees this year, with the figure slipping significantly from its 100% retention rate at the same time in 2016 when it kept all seven trainees. However, Legal Business understand the firm made seven offers, of which five were accepted, with the low figure attributed to a heavy demand by trainees for NQ positions in the funds practice, which was over-subscribed.

This week A&O announced that it has kept 85% of its 47-strong intake this autumn, making offers to 41 lawyers with 40 accepting. Its trainee retention rate almost mirrors last year’s autumn results when the firm took on 86% of its intake of 42. Thirty-six people joined the firm after 38 offers were made.

Conversely, Freshfields has posted a lacklustre 66% retention rate this time, with 27 lawyers taking up offers at the firm from a group of 41. The firm offered 29 roles to individuals. Last September, the firm kept on 95% of its trainees with 40 lawyers remaining at the firm after it brought on 42 trainees.

Slaughter and May has posted the most impressive retention rate of the Magic Circle so far, keeping 91% of its group of 32 autumn trainees. Offers were made to 30 individuals with 29 accepting positions at the firm. This is slightly down on 2016 when 34 offers were made for positions with 32 accepted, giving it a retention rate of 89%.

A statement by the firm said: ‘Our overall retention rate was again in line with previous years. We remain encouraged by our consistently high retention rates and are confident that all these talented lawyers will make a strong contribution to the firm.’

Elsewhere Pinsent Masons has taken on the largest contingent of trainees, with 67 taking up trainee roles at the firm in autumn, rate of 74%. Eighty four of the 91-strong trainee intake applied for NQ positions with the rapidly-expanding Global 100 firm.