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Now there are 3 big law firms offering more training contracts than they did last year

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First White & Case and Burges Salmon nudged up their trainee numbers, and now — Legal Cheek can reveal — Clyde & Co is increasing its quota substantially

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Clyde & Co is increasing the number of training contracts it offers by as much as 43% in the latest sign that the economic recovery is reaching the legal profession.

Having offered 35-40 training contracts in the 2013-2014 recruitment round — which closed last week — the insurance and shipping giant tells Legal Cheek that it is upping its TC numbers “towards 50” for 2014-2015. A Clyde & Co spokesperson said:

“We are increasing our numbers so are moving towards 50 training contracts which includes London, Manchester, the Middle East and Asia.”

The move follows announcements last week by Bristol giant Burges Salmon and the London office of US firm White & Case that they are increasing the amount of training contracts they offer.

In the case of BS, the increase is by 12.5% from 24 in 2013-14 to 27 in the 2014-15 graduate recruitment round commencing in October. The firm says that it hopes to raise that figure to 30 in the years ahead.

For White & Case the growth in trainee numbers comes immediately, with this summer’s intake rising from 14 to 19 to meet what the firm describes as “the growing demand for English qualified lawyers”. Last week’s W&C training principal Justin Benson told Lawyer2B that he anticipated further expansion on top of this:

“We expect the programme to continue to expand as we recruit an increasing number of trainees to meet the growing demand for English qualified lawyers from across our practices in London and, more broadly, the increasing need for English law capabilities throughout the firm’s global office network,” he said.

This trio of encouraging signs follows a wider growth in training contract numbers across the whole profession last year, with the Law Society’s annual statistical report recording a rise in TC numbers by 433 from 4,869 to 5,302 in 2013 — the most recent year for which data is available. It also comes amid some decent recent trainee retention figures, which suggest that demand for young lawyers is on the up again.

Still, the legal profession has a lot of lost ground to make up from the recession, with total training contract numbers still less than in 2009 and well short of their historic high of 6,303 recorded in 2008. And the 25-30% falls in new starter positions seen over the last few years at the likes of Clifford Chance, Allen & Overy and Mayer Brown, while having halted, will require some serious growth to reverse.

With more firms due to release their trainee numbers for the recruitment year ahead over the summer, it will be interesting to see if the good news continues. Legal Cheek‘s bet is that it will, albeit with a few bumps along the way.