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Olswang and Osborne Clarke hit by trainee exodus

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Mid-tier pair bid adios to high proportion of new qualifiers

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More evidenced has emerged of the difficult position some mid-tier firms find themselves in as Olswang and Osborne Clarke have revealed retention rates of just 50% and 67% respectively.

Holborn-based Olswang — whose reputation for being a hip place to train has subsided in recent years as its foray beyond media work has proved challenging — has offered newly qualified roles to just five out of its ten trainees qualifying this autumn.

Meanwhile, Osborne Clarke has failed to hang onto three of its nine qualifying trainees, leaving the firm with just six newly qualified associates starting this month.

Interestingly, Olswang has indicated that the decision to lose the trainees was its own, issuing a statement to the media that pledges to “continue to support them in their search for a new position”.

Whereas Osborne Clarke’s departing trainees’ seem to have orchestrated their own exit. A spokesperson for the firm told Legal Cheek:

We’ve retained six great young lawyers and have said goodbye to three from this September’s qualifying group. Congratulations to those who’ve joined us and best of luck to those who have decided to pursue their careers elsewhere.

Of those who’ve decided to hang around, London Wall-based QC revealed that just three associates would be based in the firm’s London headquarters, with the remainder in Bristol, where pay is nearly £16,000 per year less than in the City.

It is not known where the new qualifiers at Olswang — which has a big Reading office alongside its London headquarters — will reside.

As Legal Cheek has noted previously, outfits in this category are increasingly finding themselves being raided by better paying US firms’ London offices as they bid to bulk up in the capital. This may explain why OC has this year upped London NQ pay from £60,000 to £62,500.

Still, that remains a long way short of what the Americans offer.