Allen & Overy (A&O), Herbert Smith Freehills and US firm Reed Smith have helped to quash the nervousness among trainee lawyers across the City, with each keeping over 90% of their recently qualified trainee intakes.
HSF has kept on 39 of its 42 trainees as newly qualified lawyers, giving it a retention rate of 93%. All 39 trainees offered a permanent job at the firm accepted, with one trainee having chosen not to apply.
Last year, the firm posted a 90% retention rate with 24 lawyers of the 38 successful trainees qualifying into corporate and disputes.
Given the returning workloads at City law firms, early indications are that firms’ much-shrunken trainee intakes are more likely to be offered a job as a newly qualified lawyer than in previous years.
This is true in the case of A&O, which kept on 43 of its 46 qualifying trainees from its spring intake, also giving the Magic Circle firm a 93% retention rate. All but one of its spring intake applied.
This is markedly up on the 82% retention rate A&O posted with its autumn 2014 cohort, when just 41 of 50 qualifying trainees stayed on, and the 84% kept on six months earlier. However, the trainee intake has fallen sharply over the last four years in a bid to cut costs.
Plugging that gap left by the Magic Circle are the US firms rapidly gaining market share in the City, with the likes of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld having launched trainee schemes.
Reed Smith is keeping 12 out of 13 trainees on as newly qualified lawyers this spring. That gives the firm a 92% retention rate, with the firm not having fallen below 90% for over a year.
The NQs will be split between multiple practices areas with two each in corporate, finance, real estate and shipping plus one each in commercial disputes, employment, energy and media. All will be based in London with one shipping secondment to the Athens office for 12 months.
Lucy Crittenden, Reed Smith graduate recruitment manager, said: ‘We’re pleased to maintain a high trainee retention rate this spring. The quality of our trainees has been consistently high and the retention rate reflects both that and our philosophy of recruiting the best talent to retain on qualification.’