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Baker & McKenzie and Pinsent Masons reveal contrasting trainee retention rates

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Bakers keeps most as Pinsents says farewell to half

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International giants Baker & McKenzie and Pinsent Masons have announced contrasting retention performances, as another unpredictable spring season rumbles on.

The City of London office of Baker & McKenzie keeps either 88% or 94% of its qualifying trainee cohort, depending on how you read its figures.

Retaining 15 rookies — from an intake of 16 — the firm confirmed that one newly-qualified (NQ) solicitor would be placed on a fixed term contract. This was apparently due to unavailability in his desired practice area. So only 14 of the qualifying trainees actually have full time jobs at the firm. They will earn £70,000 as NQs.

The NQ who decided to leave the firm will continue to practise law, but in their home country.

The new lawyers will be spread across several of the firm’s key practice areas, including corporate, employment, corporate tax, competition, IT/commercial and disputes.

Elsewhere in the City, Pinsent Masons has revealed a disappointing spring retention rate, keeping just half its trainee cohort. From an intake of 10, Pinsents — which has 21 offices worldwide — made just six offers, with five accepting, resulting in an underwhelming final figure of 50%. Seven of the trainees applied for jobs.

The City firm — which has UK offices in Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham — confirmed that an additional NQ would be heading to its freelance lawyer arm, Vario.

The firm’s head of recruitment and graduate development, Deborah McCormack, said:

Naturally, it’s disappointing that retention is not as high as it has been in previous years. Of a qualifying pool of ten, seven applied for NQ roles, six offers were made and five accepted. A further qualifier opted to join Vario, our flexible resourcing service, with a view to diversifying their legal and commercial experience in-house. We’re supportive of those who opt to take an alternative path and Vario provides another career option for lawyers to the benefit of our clients. It’s a competitive market currently and we’re focused on offering an attractive environment for retaining the great new talent that we have entering the firm.

Today’s news marks a notable drop on the firm’s spring 2015 performance. On that occasion it managed to retain 79% of its spring qualifiers, or 15 out of 19.

But at least Pinsent Masons — which offers a substantial 75 training contracts annually — has been fully transparent about its figures. The same cannot be said — if the market chatter is to be believed — for Simmons & Simmons.

The international law firm is still in the legal press’ bad books, following accusations that it tweaked its spring retention figure. Claiming that it achieved 78% retention, with a trainee cohort nine, it has since been suggested that Simmons actually started with 13 newbies. This would give the firm a retention rate of just 54%.