Legal Business Blogs

Trainee retention round up: Slaughters leads Magic Circle as A&O keeps on 82% of trainees

All of the Magic Circle firms have unveiled their trainee retention rates for the September 2014 intake with Allen & Overy (A&O) being the last to announce a retention rate of 82%, giving Slaughter and May the highest rate of the pack at 97% with Clifford Chance at the back with 75%.

A&O made 43 offers to a total intake of 50, of which 41 accepted, which is a significant boost from last year when the firm posted a retention rate of just 72%. A&O was also the last Magic Circle firm to announce its rates last year when it made offers to 45 out of 51 applicants, of which 39 accepted.

A&O’s rate puts the firm on par with rival firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which also posted an 82% retention rate earlier this month. Group leader Slaughter and May’s level of 97% however, was closely followed by Linklaters which posted 93%.

Clifford Chance (CC) had the lowest trainee retention rate in the Magic Circle, and one of the lowest among City firms, keeping on 75% or 40 out of 53 of its autumn intake; a 5% decrease on the firm’s 80% rate this time last year.

Other City rivals also posted strong retention rates. Herbert Smith Freehills retained 41 qualifiers out of a cohort of 47 trainees for the autumn intake, giving it a retention rate of 87%. The result follows strong results posted by the top-ten firm in January, when it announced it would keep 38 out of 42 trainees, giving it a spring retention rate of 90%.

Berwin Leighton Paisner kept pace with HSF, posting an 83% retention rate. The firm, which posted bumper financial results this year with a 35% rise in profit per equity partner to £542,000, retained 15 out of 18 final-seat trainees. In the spring intake, the firm also matched HSF keeping hold of 16 out of 18 newly qualified lawyers, a retention rate of 89%.

City firm RPC kept on all 15 trainee solicitors this summer who applied to qualify this year, constituting the second time the firm has achieved a 100% rate since 2010. On the other hand, Norton Rose Fulbright kept on 17 of its 22 September trainees or 77%, down from 92% in this year’s May qualification round. While, CMS Cameron McKenna posted more modest results with a retention rate of 67.2%, with the firm’s London office keeping the lion’s share of trainees.

Of the US firms, Mayer Brown retained ten or 67% for its September 2014 intake, from a total of 15 applicants, while fellow private equity specialist firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges continued in the same manner it has adopted in recent years, and kept on all 11 London trainees in its autumn 2014 cohort.

Mayer Brown also announced in July that it will cut its September 2016 trainee intake by half, taking in just ten applicants compared to their usual intake of 20.