Allen & Overy has confirmed that it will be keeping on 84% of its March 2014 qualifiers. 45 of the 49 trainees who are due to qualify applied to stay with the firm. Jobs were offered to 42, and all but one accepted.

It's a better showing than September 2013, when six of the trainees who were offered places declined to accept them, and the firm posted a retention rate of just 72%. It's also up on March 2013, when only 70% of the qualifiers were kept on.

But the percentage figures don't give the full picture. While the numbers retained are up on the previous intakes, for sure, it's not by much - 41 as opposed to 39 in September and 38 last March. And the reality is that the size of the intakes themselves have been falling over the year. 49 trainees are qualifying in March next year, but 53 qualified in March 2013.

    A trainee at A&O feeling pleased with himself yesterday

The firm has been systematically reducing the number of graduates it takes on: at the height of the boom it took on 120 trainees a year, it now takes on 90 and in 2015 the number will fall to 85. A&O isn't alone in this however, with Clifford Chance for example reducing its annual grad rec from 120 to 100. Larger firms seem to be taking on fewer graduates but retaining more of them on qualification. Which makes a lot of sense, even if it's not the best news for job-hungry students...
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Anonymous 13 December 13 14:56

What these figures dont tell you is the vast amount of NQ's who jump ship the first month after qualifying.

Anonymous 13 December 13 16:41

It also doesn't tell you about the two people offered jobs in departments they'd never sat in and didn't want but took them so that they had a job come March.

Anonymous 16 December 13 08:04

@anonymous 13/12 16:41

Assuming your figures are right (and we can't know unless A&O confirms or denies them), then those 2 trainees weren't forced to take the jobs, they obviously chose to. One banking or corporate department at A&O will be much like the other banking/corporate departments, so the skills and work are interchangeable. I reckon good on A&O for letting people shift around departments to maximise their chance of a job.

The real test will be whether this 84% is a blip and A&O returns to the low 70s next time round, or whether their policy of reducing intakes will mean the retention rate stays high.

Anonymous 20 December 13 16:45

Those figures are right and the departments were very different (litigation instead of corporate). I'd expect the people took the jobs so that they weren't left in the lurch jobs wise. It is irrelevant in any case, more than 50% will have left inside of 2 years if my intake is anything to go by.

And reducing intakes should mean the number stays in the 80s or 90s - but retention rates aren't everything