Clyde & Co’s trainee retention rate plunges from 98% to 76%

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Firm which has grown rapidly through mergers retains fewer trainees than in 2011


Megafirm Clyde & Co has revealed a sharp drop in its trainee retention figure — which is 22 percentage points down on this time last year.

The firm, which has grown rapidly since the financial crisis via a series of mergers, revealed that just 35 out of a trainee cohort of 46 — 76% — will remain upon qualification.

That means 11 newly-qualified solicitors, which the firm has gone to huge expense to support through law school and then train, are heading for the exit door.

The shipping and insurance-geared practice, where newly qualified pay is £61,000, will no doubt be disappointed with this situation, having posted an outstanding 98% last year, when all but one trainee stayed on. Prior to that Clydes’ retention rates in the autumns of 2013 and 2012 were each time over 90%.

Twenty-eight of the new qualifiers this year will be placed at Clydes’ London HQ, two in its Manchester office, two in Dubai and the remaining three will begin life as associates in Hong Kong.

In other retention rate news, Bond Dickinson has revealed that 18 of its 23 autumn new qualifiers will remain at the firm, resulting in a retention figure of 78% — placing the regional firm above Clyde & Co in the retention pecking order.

The national firm — which is a combination of Bond Pearce and Dickinson Dees following their 2013 merger — revealed that five NQs had opted to leave the firm on completion of their training contracts.

The commercial all-rounder announced that its Newcastle office would take six new lawyers, while the Bristol and Southampton offices would gain four lawyers each. The firm’s Leeds hub would receive two young lawyers and one NQ would be based in the outfit’s Scotland office in Aberdeen.

Bond Dickinson’s company and commercial practice will receive the lion’s share of the young legal talent with 12 NQs. Three will be heading to the firm’s dispute resolution team, two to private wealth and one to real estate.

The 78% figure marks a drop from last year when the firm retained 86% of its NQ lawyers, with 18 out of 21 opting to remain.

Retention rates at firms which have undergone recent mergers are often used as a gauge of the tie-ups’ success. In general, relatively steady figures year-on-year are a sign that the new combined firm is settling into its new identity, while wild fluctuations can suggest that there is still work to be done.

A spokesperson from Clyde & Co told Legal Cheek:

Clyde & Co is committed to attracting, developing and retaining world class people at every level of its business. Our trainee retention rate inevitably fluctuates from year to year but our average over the last few rounds is 90%.



There really is a mania to not only report but analyse every single firm’s retention rate isn’t there? The examples given in this article show the nonsense that the percentages become. Are Clyde & Co really comparable to Bond Dickinson or did the two firms just report their figures around the same time, I assume the latter? By my maths (obviously not great, being a lawyer), if only one fewer trainee at the fairly small intake of Bond Dickinson had not been kept on as an NQ then it would be below Clyde & Co rather than above.

It’s just not meaningful to analyse small groups of people in this level of detail and particularly when there may be particular firm-based, practice-based or even regional reasons for a small difference year-on-year.

As someone not kept on as an NQ myself back in the day, the old Rudyard Kipling poem comes to mind – in a legal career it must be at the NQ level that the triumph or disaster and treating them both the same really comes into play. It isn’t always at that level that careers are made (or broken) – it can be, but a look at how many people who trained with a firm are there at five years’ PQE (not readily available information), never mind make partner, tends to tell more of a story. Equally, a lot of people who left at NQ level (either as they were not kept on at all or offered an unsuitable / non-applied for job – do the stats pick up those people?) have gone on to do a lot more interesting things than those who stayed the standard two or three years and then shuffled off.



PS not necessarily including myself in the “done something more interesting” – but certainly applies to a few people I know.


Salmon Act 1986, s.32

You lost me at “Megafirm Clyde & Co”.

Wikipedia has Clyde & Co at 14th in its list of largest UK firms. Its last reported annual revenues were £395m. That’s almost a billion pounds less than Clifford Chance, for example. It’s about 1.4 billion less than Latham.

“Moderately sized UK firm Clyde & Co.” would make sense. Even “Top 20 UK firm Clyde & Co” is viable. Just “Clyde & Co” would have been fine. But “Megafirm”? Are you trying to persuade Clyde & Co agree a sponsorship deal, LC?



Who said financials was the only metric? It has 40 offices, that is quite ‘mega’ to me.



You lost me at “Wikipedia”


Gladstone's kidney stone

Your point being? Wikipedia is likely one of the most significant online achievements of a generation and in most respects it is perfectly applicable to be quoted from in a manner like this.

What the OP rightly criticised is LC’s typical pinhead language used to describe law firms in general – the ‘City Aristocrats / Wall Street Titan / Gargantuan Erections’ bullshit adjectives Alex often puts in his articles and the like.

Clydes are a perfectly decent large City outfit, but definitely aren’t a mega firm in any shape or form, that’s a position only available to the likes of DLA or B&McK who are truly giant in their revenues and office counts.


Clyde & Bonnie

>mega firm

pick one



How many of those 28 NQs “placed at Clydes’ London HQ” are actually in their Guildford office?


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