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Oxbridge students shun regional law firms

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Oxford and Cambridge graduates make up less than 5% of trainees outside London

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Oxbridge students are shunning regional law firms in favour of large London outfits as they find themselves unable to resist the lure of the capital.

An analysis of 2,300 trainee solicitors has shown that fewer than 5% of trainees at national and regional law firms attended Oxford or Cambridge — a stark contrast with the finding that more than a quarter of trainees at top City of London firms are Oxbridge grads.

Newly-released data compiled by legal directory Chambers Student between 2013 and 2015 reveals that it is other top universities that are best represented in firms’ trainee intakes outside London — with Manchester, Durham, Nottingham and Bristol leading the way. Overall 69.8% of regional trainees attended a non-Oxbridge Russell Group uni, while 24.1% had been to a non-Russell Group institution. Just 4.6% went to Oxbridge and 1.5% studied overseas.

In stark contrast to the figures outside the M25, a whopping 27.1% of trainees at magic circle and “large London” firms went to either Oxford or Cambridge. Russell Group university graduates were also well represented amongst the City’s elite, accounting for 59.1% of trainees. But non-Russell Groupers made up just 8.8%, while overseas universities scored a creditable 5.6%.

Of those non-Oxbridge unis feeding these top City firms, Durham University was most popular, with Nottingham, Manchester and Bristol following closely behind.

The research found that the London offices of US firms — several of which pay £100k a year or more — were the most strongly drawn to Oxbridge graduates. According to the stats, 31% of trainees at these firms had attended either Oxford or Cambridge for their undergraduate degree — the highest proportion of any class of firm.

Examining the figures more widely, of the 2,300 trainees questioned, 83 different universities were represented. This marks a 14% increase in the number of universities trainees were sourced from since a similar survey was undertaken in 2012.