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Jones Day and Taylor Wessing continue strong autumn retention trend for City firms

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Anglo-German firm Taylor Wessing posts 87% retention figure, while London office of US giant Jones Day reveals it’s keeping all of its autumn qualifiers

Jones

The strong autumn retention trend continued today as Taylor Wessing and Jones Day revealed their autumn results.

Taylor Wessing — known for tech, IP and life sciences work — has announced today that 20 of its 23 trainees have opted to remain at the firm post-qualification, equating to a retention figure of 87%.

The 20 newly qualified (NQ) lawyers will start on a salary £61,000 and will be spread across several of the firm’s key practice areas.

Intellectual property, private client, private equity, tax and disputes and investigations will each receive two new lawyers. The remaining 10 will be spread across various departments including corporate tech, real estate, finance, corporate, commercial projects and employment.

The firm, which offers around 22 training contract opportunities a year, has seen a slight dip in its retention figure since last autumn, when it posted 91%.

Meanwhile, the London office of US giant Jones Day have announced that all of its autumn trainee cohort will remain at the firm.

The 15 trainees will begin life as NQs on a salary of £78,000, a full £8,000 more than their magic-circle counterparts at Clifford Chance.

The NQs will be shared amongst several of the firm’s departments, corporate taking the largest share, with six. Banking and global disputes will take two a piece, while the remaining five will be shared among real estate, tax, employment projects/infrastructure and financial institutions litigation/regulation.

Today’s news marks a notable improvement on the figure posted this time last year, when the firm kept 82% of its trainees.

Jones Day adds itself to an ever-increasing list of City firms posting perfect retention figures this autumn. In the past month White & Case, Shearman & Sterling, Sullivan & Cromwell and Weil Gotshal & Manges have announced 100% retention results.

6 Comments

Blunt realist

Perhaps I’m cynical, but I can’t help thinking back to the pre-crash days where everything was seemingly so positive with firms boasting excellent retention rates. A few years later and the job market is a nightmare, training contracts even for grads of the top universities hard to get and NQ’s left jobless en masse. What will the stories on Legal Cheek in 2018 read like I wonder….

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Anon

“Barristers today burn an effigy of Chris Grayling in memory of the criminal bar.”

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Anonymous

Training contracts are desirable therefore they are competitive – that’s a fact. Firms have actually become progressively clearer and more open about what they are looking for, and although there is more competition than ever, on an individual basis it has never been easier, with some critical self-awareness, to self-assess the skills and experiences that one is lacking. Let’s not pretend that the hunt for TCs is anything like as gruelling, exploitative, or horrendously mismanaged as the qualification path to the bar.

The availability of TCs is dictated completely by market conditions – no firm is going to train substantially more trainees than it actually has work for. So the only options are either to artificially grow the legal market or to have fewer people looking for Training Contracts, and I’m not sure how one goes about doing either of those things.

As for NQ positions, yes some trainees do get left high and dry, but I think it is rare. A large proportion of those that aren’t retained have decided to do something else with their new qualification, whether that is going in-house, setting up a business, going back to academia, or travelling abroad to work. It’s far too simplistic to look at these figures and say ‘13% of Taylor Wessing NQs are unemployed’.

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Blunt realist

“Firms have actually become progressively clearer and more open about what they are looking for, and although there is more competition than ever, on an individual basis it has never been easier, with some critical self-awareness, to self-assess the skills and experiences that one is lacking. ”

Yeah… not quite sure I agree with that. You must not have much experience in these things.

“So the only options are either to artificially grow the legal market or to have fewer people looking for Training Contracts, and I’m not sure how one goes about doing either of those things.”

You neglect to consider clamping down on the LPC providers to stop them making a small fortune out of delusional students who then spend years trying and failing to get training contracts to justify their expenditure.

“As for NQ positions, yes some trainees do get left high and dry, but I think it is rare.”

You clearly weren’t around in 2009/2010.

I would strongly encourage any students currently applying for training contracts to pay great attention to the previous behaviour of firms in downturns. If they had woeful retention rates or were making mass layoffs (and in some instances have massive histories of it) I would question if they are necessarily the most wise of choices given you’d be qualifying in 2019 where times are likely to be less rosy. After all who likes to get Lathamed?

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Anonymous

“Yeah… not quite sure I agree with that. You must not have much experience in these things.”

I have rather a lot of experience ‘in these things’, in fact, though this post isn’t about me. You haven’t actually explained what you disagree with in terms of firms being clearer about what they are looking for. It’s plastered all over their websites, it’s in all the interviews and articles they give to student publications.

As for the other points you make, I completely agree. I don’t think anyone should be allowed to take the LPC until they have secured a training contract, and ideally it would be done alongside work like the accountancy qualifications. Ideally, people would stop doing it before getting a TC – a practice that you rightly describe as delusional.

As for your comments on 2019, I can’t profess to know what the economy will be like but, yes, it is always better to avoid a more callous firm. I turned down a Latham TC back then mainly for that reason.

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Not Amused

I think I agree with parts of what each of you say. In a vain attempt to add anything useful, can I ask people to stop singling out Latham?

BR is right to say that firms behaved differently during the downturn. I think we saw broadly 4 types of behaviour:
1) Firms who did everything to retain NQs;
2) Firms who paid generous redundancy packages;
3) Firms who let huge swathes go for statutory minimum pay off;
4) Firms who then behaved shoddily by either not compensating future TC holders when the TC was paused or by not giving any real warning that a TC was likely to be paused.

Kids now will not know who those firms were and it’s not fair to pick on one firm (and a firm with a v small trainee intake). That’s why people should research their law firms through the historic reports of this site, RoF and the Lawyer in order to get a broad and fair view.

They should also note that past performance does not equal future practice. A certain MC firm behaved really badly towards corporate sols in the 2001/2002 corporate crash. But in the 2009/2010 NQ massacre they acted really rather better. Balance everything you read, but forewarned is forearmed.

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