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Training contracts: A&O cuts 2015 intake by 15% and reveals retention rates alongside HFW and Olswang

Allen & Overy’s (A&O) decision today (15 August) to reduce its trainee intake by 15% in 2015 will be closely watched by City rivals, many of which are also considering whether to cut their trainee numbers in light of diminishing newly-qualified (NQ) roles in the medium term.

The top five LB100 firm, which achieved a modest turnover growth of 1% this year to £1,189m, is cutting its trainee numbers from 100 to 90 in 2014, followed by a further drop to 85 in 2015. A statement from the firm said the decision was taken in order to ‘match [its] expectations of NQ jobs in the medium-term.’

Graduate recruitment partner Richard Hough, added: ‘We aim to recruit for the long-term as well as providing a high quality training contract.

‘Managing our intake numbers means that we aren’t just offering our trainees excellent training and experience, but also a strong prospect of a long-term career with the firm after qualification.’

The announcement comes as A&O is also the latest and last Magic Circle firm to release its trainee retention rate, posting a figure of 72%.

A total of 45 out of 51 applicants have been made offers and 39 accepted a permanent position with the firm. This signals a dip on last autumn’s results, when the firm retained a total of 46 out of 58 trainees, giving it a retention rate of 79%.

This round the firm has posted the lowest retention rates of any Magic Circle firm, as Linklaters, Slaughter and May, Clifford Chance and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer all released figures upwards of 80%.

However, David Campbell, partner and training principal, said: ‘The job market for NQs continues to be tough but we are pleased to have been able to offer jobs to so many of our trainees. A number of this year’s intake decided not to accept offers, so our retention rate is lower than we expected.’

Elsewhere, Holman Fenwick Willan has taken on 100% of its trainees, while at the other end of the spectrum only 54% of Olswang’s qualifying trainees have been given a position at the firm after seven of 11 were offered a permanent position and six accepted the offer.