Trainee recruitment bonanza: Firms up TC numbers — led by White & Case with 33% rise

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Other big name to boost graduate hiring is Ashurst with 12.5% increase; five mid-tier outfits also offering more training contracts


Global titan White & Case has revealed that it will boost its London trainee intake for the 2015-16 recruitment round from 30 trainees to 40.

Ashurst too has posted an improved trainee recruitment target — albeit a slightly more modest one — of 45 for 2015-16. Up from 40, it represents a 12.5% rise.

Though the firms are similar in ambition and City presence, their enhanced trainee figures are indicative of two differing approaches.

In 2011, Ashurst stepped-up its efforts to expand in Asia by merging with Aussie firm Blake Dawson, itself already a major player in the Asian market. Ashurst’s graduate recruitment partner, Hammad Akhtar, indicated to Legal Cheek how this tie-up has informed the firm’s decision to bring in more rookies, explaining:

The increase in the number of training contract vacancies reflects both the increasing strength and globalisation of our business. This has increased the need for trainees and international opportunities for them.

White & Case has a long-standing London presence, which dates back to 1971. Like other US firms in the UK, it’s in growth mode, using its scale to muscle in on the English City mid-tier. Earlier this year the New York-based behemoth swelled its NQ salaries by 20% to £90,000 — one of the biggest NQ pay hikes seen in the City this year. And now it wants more graduates to fill its trainee pipeline.

Following a narrative of contrasting fortunes for training contract numbers in 2014-15, there was concern earlier this month that 2015-16 may not be such a vintage year when CMS Cameron McKenna shocked the market by announcing a 34% reduction in its trainee intake. But the White & Case and Ashurst TC increases have steadied nerves.

And they are not the only firms to boost trainee numbers. Five further top 60 firms have each unveiled impressive trainee hiring targets for 2015-16. Anglo-US firm Squire Patton Boggs, which has a number of UK regional offices, and national firm Bond Dickinson, also big outside London, both see their intakes improved by five to 25.

Meanwhile, Taylor Wessing and Watson Farley & Williams will welcome two additional future trainees in 2016 — taking their numbers up to 24 and 18 respectively — while Mishcon de Reya boosts its target from 12 to 15.

Trainees recruited in the 2015-16 recruitment round don’t actually start their TCs until 2018, so it will take a while for these numbers to trickle through. But the rises at seven firms, no less, show that the City law graduate recruitment market retains some vigour, despite well-documented outsourcing and paralegal trends impacting on junior-level work.


Lord Dyson

Could we please use even more superlative adjectives in your gargantuan articles, LC? I feel I haven’t gotten enough of all those mammoth, titanic, muscular words just yet.




That’s LC’s editorial style. Deal with it. Or stop visiting.



Here here



*hear hear



*Heer Heer


You’re not the correctionizer. I am!


White & Case are really making a stride! I struggle to see how the UK silver/magic circle will continue to compete with the emergence of top U.S. Outfits such as White & Case and Latham & Watkins



The rumour is that White & Case are planning on doubling their london office size over the next five years. It is very foreseeable that they will be a serious threat to the UK establishment!



I can’t see how it can be financially sustainable for them to not only increase their trainee numbers to 40 but to also pay their NQs such ridiculous sums! £90k by the age of 24 is no small matter!



Did it not occur to you, that they do have the capacity and that’s why they’re taking additional trainees on.

Or are you suggesting they require your financial expertise or a dose of commercial awareness?



Sorry Mr Sherlock! I think there’s a clear reason why other top US firms like weil, skadden, latham pay NQs a lot but still have a very small intake. The financial pressures of having a larger intake with heavier salaries would obviously be greater. It’s logic. Even those without my stellar commercial awareness and expertise can realise that!


Agreed. Paying £90k to a 40-strong NQ cohort (assuming they keep having very good retention rates) seems insane. There’s a reason firms like Skadden or SullCrom hire few and lay high…


I’m glad you know better than the partners at White & Case, the internal management team there and the external financial/accounting advisors they have. So happy the internet is able to expose me to such learned people who know everything.


Are most NQs 24?

Considering that most firms take around 50% law/non-law, a high portion of the NQs at any firm must be at least 25/26. Doing the GDL and LPC makes it pretty hard to qualify before 24. Lots of people also seem to take a gap year pre or post university (or several).

Not everyone follows the standard route of law degree at 21, LPC at 21/22, TC, 23-24.


Cooley's Calvin Coolidge

Agreed. I’m over at Cooley and it seems almost everyone is somewhat older – I’m 26 and the youngest trainee in the office!

#alldatmaturegash #assfordays #milfsahoy


I’ll be 23 when I qualify. Happy days.




Looooool u high bro?

Make that 11+ years for most City practices. More like #salariedpartnerby35


Lol, I was joking. However, you do get the odd partner, who gets the nod at 8-9 PQE.

11 years is quite a while to wait.


I was joking too of course.

But jokes aside, I do believe the days of 6 year partnership prospects are long gone – it’s at least 8-9 years before one climbs up the greasy pole high enough to be considered. Sad really…


You were right!



With Norton Rose Fulbright being the exception – from 55 training contracts last year to 50 this year. Maybe that merger isn’t going so well.


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