Cleary Gottlieb has been unable to find jobs for at least four of its 13 qualifying trainees, RollOnFriday understands.
Thirteen final seat trainees are set to qualify in September at the US firm's London office. But four have been taken aside by the trainee partner and told "the firm just didn't have the NQ positions", according to a source. "Performance wasn't an issue", he said, "and you wouldn't expect it to be for trainees at a firm like Cleary."
Cleary has traditionally performed excellently on trainee retention. Until 2012 its cohort sizes were much smaller, ranging in size from three to six people, and the firm always retained all of them. Even after increasing the intake size, it lost no more than one trainee per qualification round.
However, within the last year the London office has seen considerable upheaval. First a quarter of the office left. Then it jettisoned its paralegals. RollOnFriday's comments section saw an outpouring of ill-feeling as a result. "Apparently it was all led by an 'efficiency expert' brought in from KPMG", said one poster about the paralegal clear-out, "who had all the emotional intelligence of a stone and even less proper understanding of what the paralegals actually did".
The reboot no-one expected.
Another person posting in ROF's comments section who purported to be a trainee indicated that they would be happy to move on. "When I was offered the TC I thought I won the jackpot. Big brand, good trainee pay, huge whack on qualification etc. Can't believe how naive I was. I'm typing this comment in a toilet stall as I've been told off for being on the phone at my desk". A source suggested the firm may now seek to reduce the size of its trainee intake.
A spokesman for Cleary said that the current trainee retention deliberation was "still a confidential process", but that the firm would update RollOnFriday in due course. Who knows, maybe the firm will find a few more NQ jobs down the back of the sofa between now and then.