Freshfields posts 82% trainee retention rate rounding off mixed bag for magic circle

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By Thomas Connelly on

Elsewhere in the City, Reed Smith posts disappointing 58% result while Weil Gotshal & Manges scores perfect 100%


Global giant Freshfields has posted a disappointing spring retention result, holding on to 82% of its trainee cohort who are due to qualify this month in London.

The magic circle player — that sees 80 trainees pass through its doors annually — confirmed that it had made 33 offers from a trainee cohort of 38. With 31 accepting full time associate positions, only two opted to snub the top City outfit, equating to a spring 2016 retention figure of 82%.

Rounding off this season’s magic circle retention results, today’s news leaves elite outfit Slaughter and May as the top performer amongst the exclusive group of City firms.

Posting a very impressive 95% back in January, the firm revealed it was holding on to 38 out of 40 of its spring qualifiers. Just behind them — on 91%, or 39 out of its 43 — is global giant Allen & Overy. Dropping down into the low eighties, Linklaters narrowly beat Freshfields with a spring figure of 83%. And with Freshfields posting 82% today, that leaves Clifford Chance languishing at the bottom of the magic circle table, after it revealed this week that it was keeping just 43 of its 54 trainees, or 80%.

Elsewhere in the City, Reed Smith has posted a spring retention result of 58%, keeping seven out of 12 of its trainees due to qualify this month.

The Pittsburgh-headquartered international outfit — that offers around 24 training contracts annually — did have the capacity to take on all 12 newly qualifiers. But five young lawyers will leave post-qualification, with the firm citing changes in “career direction” and “lifestyle choice”.

The outfit’s seven new associates will be spread across several of Reed Smith’s key practise areas. The financial industry group will gain three new lawyers and energy & natural resources, corporate, and commercial disputes will gain an associate each. The remaining NQ will join the firm’s pro bono initiative, based within the responsible business team. Reed Smith confirmed that all NQs will be based in the firm’s London office on fixed term contracts.

Samantha Roberts, Reed Smith training principal, said:

We have always enjoyed strong retention rates at Reed Smith. This year, we were able to offer jobs to everyone but of the 12 trainees that are due to qualify, seven will remain with us and we are delighted to have them on board. Trainees make an important life decision when they choose what to do after they qualify. Those individuals not continuing this year have taken the step to pursue a new career direction or lifestyle choice and we wish them all the best.

Finally, another US firm with a much smaller trainee intake has enjoyed a perfect retention performance. With only three spring qualifiers, New York-headquartered corporate powerhouse Weil Gotshal & Manges revealed a spring 2016 retention result of 100%.