"I would like to congratulate all our NQs! Only another 40 years to go."
As trainees spin in their office chairs and undergo metamorphosis to turn into real solicitors, firms have been announcing their autumn retention rates.
Allen & Overy has posted a great retention score of 93%, as it holds on to 37 out of its cohort of 40 qualifying trainees; all in permanent roles. The Magic Circle firm retained 87% of its brood in the spring.
“It’s great to see another strong retention rate at A&O, which reflects the strength of our talent pipeline and our commitment to developing our people and investing in the future of the firm," said Training Principal, James Partridge. "Congratulations to the latest cohort - I look forward to seeing them grow and thrive as they embark on their careers with us".
Freshfields announced that 36 out of its autumn cohort of 40 trainees will qualify at the firm. But a spokeswoman for the firm would not confirm if any will be on a fixed term contract; so the exact retention rate for permanent positions is unknown. The firm had announced that it had retained 33 out of 34 qualifying trainees in the spring (but again the firm wouldn't reveal if that included any fixed term contracts).
“We are excited that many of our September qualifying intake will continue to develop their careers at Freshfields. Our trainees are all exceptional colleagues and have shown great talent and dedication throughout their training contracts," said Craig Montgomery, partner and training principal at Freshfields.
White & Case is retaining 79% of its London trainees this September, as 19 out of its qualifying cohort of 24 trainees have been offered and accepted full-time roles. The firm had retained 78% of its spring cohort (as well as taking on one qualifying trainee on a fixed-term basis).
“The combination of a comprehensive, industry-leading training scheme and our highly competitive salary and benefits package continue to provide a compelling proposition for talented and ambitious trainee lawyers,” said White & Case partner Inigo Esteve, who heads the London trainee solicitor programme.
Burges Salmon is retaining 23 out of 28 qualifying trainees this September - a retention rate of 82%. Additionally, the firm has also offered one qualifying trainee a fixed term contract, which has been accepted.
A spokesman for the Bristol-headquartered firm said: "As a result of Covid-19, opportunities to travel were limited at the time this cohort graduated from university. We hope that some of the trainees who are not taking up an NQ role this September will join us at a later date after a period of travel. We have recruited 5 external candidates to join our internal NQs and will be looking for more to fill additional roles across the firm".
Dentons is retaining 78% of UK trainees this September as 23 out of its 32 qualifying cohort stay with the firm. The firm is also taking on its first two apprentice NQs in the UK.
Paul Jarvis, Dentons UKIME CEO, said: "I am proud to congratulate our trainees and apprentices who qualify in autumn 2023, and thank them for their outstanding contribution to our Firm. They are a great addition to the talent we have, and I look forward to continuing seeing them bring their fresh ideas, high energy, motivation to learn, and new perspectives on what it means to be a commercial lawyer at the law firm of the future."
RPC is retaining 11 out of 16 trainees this Autumn - a 69% retention rate. "Our trainees have a unique experience at RPC and receive high-quality training through our comprehensive programme, international and client secondment opportunities and exposure to complex cross-border work," said RPC Partner and Training Principal Parham Kouchikali.
Bird & Bird has posted a retention score of 83% as it is retaining 15 out of 18 of its qualifying trainees. Alison Dixon, the firm's Training Principal said: “Once again we have an extremely strong cohort of trainees qualifying into a range of practice areas across our London office this summer. We are very proud of what they have achieved so far, and are really excited to see them move into the next stage of their careers at Bird & Bird.”
Finally, for this round-up: Mishcon de Reya is holding on to 24 out of its cohort of 28 qualifying trainees - a score of 86%.
Looking at cohort numbers, a quick rootle through the archives reveals whether firm cohort numbers are dwindling, rising or staying the same, compared with a decade ago.
Allen & Overy's cohort size has dipped in recent years: the firm had a total intake of 79 qualifying trainees this year, compared with a cohort of 107 in 2013.
Freshfields took on a total of 74 trainees this year, compared with 94 trainees in 2013. However, it is understood that the firm is increasing its numbers again, as it has raised the training contracts on offer to 100 places from 2025.
Other firms have increased their intakes over the last decade. White & Case's total cohort of 47 qualifying trainees this year, compares with a cohort of 28 trainees in 2013. Dentons has also raised its numbers - from a cohort of 25 trainees in 2013, to 32 this year.
And Mishcon took on just 7 trainees in 2013, compared with 28 qualifying trainees this year - albeit its numbers have fluctuated somewhat over the last decade or so (e.g. it took on 18 trainees in 2012).
The other firms mentioned above - Burges Salmon, RPC and Bird Bird - have maintained fairly consistent cohort sizes over the decade.