Mayer Brown confirms drop in training contract numbers from 20 to 15 since 2012

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By Alex Aldridge on

Reduction in trainee numbers has taken place over two years as part of a bid to boost firm’s retention rate


The London office of international law firm Mayer Brown has confirmed that it has reduced its trainee numbers by a quarter over the last two years, as it concludes a phased reduction of its annual graduate recruitment figure from 20 to 15.

Because of big law firms’ practice of recruiting two years in advance, the changes won’t finish taking effect until September 2016, when students recruited this year begin their training contracts.

The reduction in training contract numbers only applies to Mayer Brown’s September trainee intake, which has been scaled back from 18 in 2012 (trainees recruited in 2010) to 10-11 from 2013 onwards. The firm’s five-strong March intake has remained constant and will continue to do so.

Caroline Sarson, Mayer Brown’s graduate recruitment manager, told Legal Cheek:

“The firm made a decision three years ago to recalibrate the number of trainees we take on, partly for business needs and partly to ensure that we retain as many trainees as possible. That process has now been concluded. “

Mayer Brown posted a low trainee retention rate in Spring this year, when just two out of its five trainees were retained. But the firm has made a significant improvement with its newly-announced Autumn figure, with ten training contracts offered to the 15 trainees who applied for newly qualified positions. A further three trainees from the 18-strong cohort chose not to apply for a full-time role, giving the firm a retention rate of between 55%-67% depending on how you crunch the figures.

Other firms to have significantly cut trainee recruitment of late include magic circle giant Allen & Overy and City media practice Olswang, where training contracting numbers have fallen by 30% and 50% respectively. However, with these cuts having been concluded there is a sense that training contracts are now slowly on the rise again, with the Law Society’s recently-released ‘Annual Statistics Report’ for 2013 recording a rise in training contracts from 4,869 in 2012 to 5,302 in 2013.