City firms break two-year-in-advance recruitment rule to tout for trainees to start this September

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By Alex Aldridge on

DWF and K&L Gates need law graduates — and fast


Two big corporate law firms are so keen to hire trainees that they have ditched the City legal profession convention of hiring graduates two years in advance.

DWF, which moved into new City offices in the Walkie Talkie building last year, is targeting ten law graduates to start this September. Meanwhile the London office of US firm K&L Gates, which offers 10 training contracts each year, is also actively seeking current Legal Practice Course (LPC) students and graduates for 2015 starts.

The DWF TCs will be spread across the firm’s offices in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Legal Cheek understands that only one will take place in the glamorous new Walkie Talkie flagship branch.

But DWF tells us that it is also hiring heavily for 2016 — again breaking the two-year-in-advance rule — and wants 36 students to start as trainees in September next year. Seven of these training contracts will be in London, eight in Manchester, six in Leeds and four in Birmingham, with the rest split between the firm’s offices in Liverpool, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

K&L Gates has not confirmed how many training contracts it is offering to start this September, but Legal Cheek has seen an email the firm sent to various top universities’ alumni lists advertising its 2015 TCs.

Amongst other things, the email states:

“If you are interested in applying for a Training Contract and are eligible to commence in September 2015, please do get in touch.”

The development comes as K&L Gates’ London office increased its revenue by 11% from £40.5m in 2013 to £45m in 2014. Revenue at the firm’s foothold in the capital is up 60% since 2009. DWF — which gobbled up stricken Manchester giant Cobbetts in 2013 — has also been growing quickly of late, with turnover leaping from £143m to £189m last year.

These figures follow a host of impressive spring trainee retention rate performances from City law firms, with most hanging on to 80%-100% of new recruits — indicating a market in improving health.

Regarding the decision to deviate from the two-year-in-advance recruitment rule, a spokesperson for DWF told Legal Cheek:

“Because have expanded so quickly over the last 18 months we hadn’t quite foreseen the need we would have for trainees.”

The application deadline for the DWF TCs is Friday 6 March. The selection process involves a video interview but no psychometric test. K&L Gates is not specifying a deadline for its TCs.

Further reading

DWF firm profile [Legal Cheek]

K&L Gates firm profile [Legal Cheek]