Legal Business Blogs

Trainee retention: Macfarlanes & Latham reveal numbers

Macfarlanes has become the latest City firm to decide on its trainee retention rates, with 18 out of 24 trainees – equating to 75% – being offered a permanent position at the firm.

The figure, which represents a dip on last year’s near full house of 92%, comes after three trainees were not offered a position, however two trainees did not apply for a job with the firm and one declined the permanent newly-qualified (NQ) role on offer.

According to senior partner Charles Martin, the drop in retention this year is due to a number of factors, including the preferences of those qualifying not matching the opportunities on offer, which are in turn driven by client demand and strategic priorities.

Martin said: ‘Recruiting, training and retaining the very best legal talent is fundamental to giving our clients the excellence which they expect of us. Graduate recruitment is the cornerstone of the firm. Unlike others, we have not reduced our trainee numbers materially nor do we intend to do so.

‘We are always very mindful of our wider responsibilities when we recruit for our trainee scheme. We aim for as high a level of retention as possible. The investment that is made on both sides also creates a strong incentive to make this work. Poor retention is bad business.’

The news comes as Latham & Watkins yesterday reported a retention rate of 93% after offering 13 of its 14 trainees a permanent position. The world’s third largest firm by revenue has said it will increase its trainee intake numbers, in contrast with firms including the Magic Circle’s Allen & Overy (A&O) and Clifford Chance.

Retention rates among the City’s leading firms have been largely respectable to good this round, with Linklaters, Clifford Chance and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer all unveiling a rate of over 80% and Slaughter and May topping the chart at 90%, although Allen & Overy trailed its rivals on 72% and announced it is to cut its trainee intake by 15% in 2015.

However, the validity of this round’s rates are being called into question following the revelation that firms including Field Fisher Waterhouse have within their so-called retention rate offered a number of NQs only a 12-month fixed term contract.