Allen & Overy moves forward training contract deadline to New Year’s Eve in bid to bag top students

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By Alex Aldridge on

Taylor Wessing also has a new earlier deadline as old graduate recruitment code is ditched


Elite City firm Allen & Overy has quietly moved forward its training contract application deadline to the Christmas holidays in a bid to bag the top legal talent.

A&O — which offers 90 training contracts each year — will now require students to submit their TC applications by 31 December this year, which should make for a fun New Year’s Eve for hopefuls.

There has also been a significant graduate recruitment timetable shift elsewhere in the market, with mid-tier Anglo-German firm Taylor Wessing bringing its training contract deadline forward — less radically — to 30 April 2016. Meanwhile, rumours are swirling about a possible new deadline at Ashurst, but nothing has been confirmed yet.

For both A&O and Taylor Wessing, where 24 TCs are available annually, wannabes will be applying for positions that start in 2018.

A&O’s new deadline, in particular, represents a major shift in City law recruitment norms, with the training contract application deadline adhered to by most firms traditionally set at 31 July.

The changes follows a move by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to wave goodbye to the old “trainee recruitment code” that saw firms follow roughly the same graduate recruitment dates as each other. A new much more relaxed voluntary code has since been implemented — without the SRA’s backing — under which firms can basically do whatever they like.

Claire Wright, Allen & Overy’s graduate recruitment partner, explained the thinking behind the move to Legal Cheek:

We have made a number of changes to the way that we recruit this year, giving us the opportunity to refresh our recruitment offering in line with the changes that we have seen in the recruitment marketplace for trainee solicitors but also in response to, and to ensure our adherence with, the new revised Voluntary Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Trainee Solicitors.

Legal Cheek predicted earlier this year that the SRA’s controversial decision to ditch the code would result in law firms pushing their deadlines forward.

At the time, magic circle outfit Clifford Chance — which offers 100 training contracts annually — immediately brought its deadline forward to 30 June. But A&O’s move is far more extreme.

Can other leading firms now stick to the old 31 July deadline if they want to bag the best students? That’s the question graduate recruiters will be asking each other this evening.