The trainee cohort 2012
The trainee cohort 2022
Freshfields made offers to 32 out of its qualifying cohort of 36 trainees, all of whom accepted, giving the Magic Circle firm a very decent retention score of 89%, following 92% in the spring and 81% last autumn.
“We are delighted that many of our September qualifying intake will continue to develop their careers at Freshfields, and congratulate them on completing their training contracts," said Craig Montgomery, partner and training principal at Freshfields.
"The talent and dedication shown by our trainees has been exceptional and we will continue to invest in the next generation of future leaders, and ensure they are achieving their goals through learning and development opportunities," added Montgomery.
Herbert Smith Freehills also posted a solid retention rate of 84%, with 16 out of the cohort of 19 qualifying trainees applying for a NQ position, all of whom were successful. Herbies has also retained a large percentage of its recent cohorts - 83% in the spring, and 97% in autumn 2021.
Mayer Brown has dropped from 83% in the spring and 80% last autumn, but not by choice. It offered jobs to all nine of its qualifying trainees and solicitor apprentices, but three decided to go elsewhere, including one to a client, giving it 67%.
“We are delighted to retain six of our nine trainees and solicitor apprentices upon qualification and that a further trainee has accepted a role with one of our clients with whom she completed a very successful trainee secondment," said litigation partner Stuart Pickford.
"They demonstrated particular resilience and commitment during the pandemic," said Pickford. Like the other cohorts qualifying this year, the trainees have endured a fair proportion of their contract sitting at home and learning the job remotely, trying to impress supervisors over messaging apps and email.
However, given the relatively small size of cohorts, it would be worrying if most were not being retained. A rootle through the archives reveals that trainee numbers across many firms have dropped compared to a decade ago. Freshfields took on a total of 73 trainees this year, compared with 94 trainees in 2012. Mayer Brown had 15 compared to 25 in 2012. And HSF had just 48, down from 100.