Slaughter and May has posted a trainee retention rate of 94%, with 29 out of its 31 qualifiers staying at the firm.

It continues an excellent run for the elite Magic Circle firm, which retained 93% last autumn and 97% last spring. "The lack of billable targets generally means lower hours than peers at other MC firms, and weekends are generally respected" said a trainee in the RollOnFriday Firm of the Year 2020 survey, who also noted, "when the shit does hit the fan it's just as bad as any other top City firm."

Fellow Magic Circle firm Freshfields announced a 90% retention rate. The firm offered 36 of its 39 trainees positions, with 35 staying on. The firm posted an impressive 93% last autumn and a so-so 78% last spring.  "My opinion will undoubtedly not be very popular at all among my peers, but I think we're paid too much" said a lawyer in the Firm of the Year 2020 survey. "Come on, which NQ is really worth £100,000?  I know it's over-inflation due to US market pressure, but this is all just getting a bit silly now." Although another junior said lawyers at the firm were "worked like a dog if you're lucky, worked to death otherwise". 

In another good posting from the Magic Circle, Clifford Chance is keeping on 34 out of 40 of its trainees, or 85%. The firm has proved loyal to its trainees, having kept on 87% last autumn and 90% last spring. "The quantity and quality of the work" at Clifford Chance, "as well as the training and support, can't fail to develop anyone who stays for a reasonable length of time into an excellent lawyer", said a solicitor at the Magic Circle beast. Some complaints, though. Asked about their career development, a colleague said simply, "Cannon fodder".


One NQ's weekend was about to be ruined

Addleshaw Goddard is retaining 90% of its qualifying trainees this spring. 11 offers were made and 10 were accepted. The brood will head for roles in the firm's Leeds, Manchester and London offices. It is an improvement on the previous rounds, as the firm had a retention rate of 78% (2018) and 82% (2019).

"Colleagues are generally respectful of the fact that most people at the firm have a life outside work and don't want to be chained to their desks 24/7," said a lawyer in the RFOTY 2020 survey. "There is a very strong WFH culture that actually involves people working from home." Although cleaning staff at the firm have been less satisfied.  

There was breathless reporting that Ropes & Gray had raised NQ pay to £130,000. As the US firm only has two out of three trainees qualifying (67%), it could have afforded to really make a splash and bump pay to £500,000. A missed opportunity. 

If you know your firm's retention scores, drop us a line.

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