CMS slashes trainee headcount by nearly 35%

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By Thomas Connelly on

International franchised firm CMS Cameron McKenna has sythed 26 trainee positions since merging with Dundas & Wilson


International law firm CMS Cameron McKenna has slashed its trainee numbers by more than 34%.

The London-based global franchise — which last year recruited 76 trainee lawyers — revealed to Legal Cheek that it would reduce that number to 50 for the 2015-16 recruitment round.

The sharp decline in trainee numbers appears to be a delayed consolidation of the firm’s trainee recruitment following last year’s merger with Scotland’s Dundas & Wilson. That deal in May 2014 seems to have created an unsustainable level of trainee intake.

Meanwhile, CMS revealed yesterday that 38 trainees from its autumn cohort of 50 will remain at the firm, a retention figure of 76%. The firm — which operates under the European CMS badge — confirmed that 38 offers were made, all of which were accepted.

The firm declined to comment on its tumbling trainee numbers. However, senior partner, Penelope Warne, was keen to discuss CMS’s current retention rate, saying:

We are very committed to our young top talent in the firm as one of our key strategic priorities. We always endeavour to offer as many newly qualified (NQ) positions as possible. We are pleased to welcome our 38 new NQs who are spread across our wide range of practices and sector groups.

This current retention rate is a marked improvement on the firm’s spring figure, when it was only able to keep 62% of its qualifying lawyers. At the time, the firm blamed the fact many of its NQs had opted for in-house roles or positions outside the legal profession.

Earlier this summer, Legal Cheek revealed that CMS had restored junior lawyer pay to per-global financial crash levels. Trainees received a welcome cash injection, with first-year salaries rising from £38,000 to £40,000, and second-year pay going from £43,000 to £45,000.

Associates also had extra money chucked their way, with NQs taking home an improved pay packet of £60,000, bringing those junior lawyers to the same level as their 2008 predecessors.