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Number of training contracts registered jumps by nearly 500 in a year

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Law students welcome first major increase since financial crash

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The previously dwindling number of training contracts has experienced a welcome boost.

The Law Society’s latest statistics report shows that training contract numbers increased from 5,001 to 5,457 in 2014-15, a marked surge of 456 (9.1%).

Though the new figures are still nowhere near the number of people graduating with law degrees each year, the new stats paint a promising picture. Recent legal market trends show that training contract numbers have failed to recover from their dramatic pre-2008 financial crash high — when they hit a whopping 6,303 — so the figures announced today go against the grain and will no doubt be welcomed by aspiring solicitors.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the research has confirmed that training contracts are most heavily concentrated in the capital. According to the report, just over half (51.5%) are based in London. About a third (33.8%) of all training contracts are offered by City firms, the likes of magic circle giants Linklaters and Allen & Overy offering 110 and 90 training contracts a year respectively.

Interestingly, the growth in trainee places occurred to a much greater extent in the smaller firms as the corporate law giants found themselves treading water. While the share of training contracts offered by firms with 26 or more partners dropped from 54.9% to 49.4%, the proportion of places at small firms with two to four partners rose by 20%. Firms with five to 10 partners saw an even bigger 45% growth.

It’s still the norm for aspiring solicitors to complete their training in a law firm; this is the route taken by 91.7% of the 2014-15 trainees. However, the number of training contracts offered in commerce and industry has experienced a modest but notable increase of 19.4%, from 185 to 221.

The positive trend continues into the more senior ranks of the profession, as the number of practising solicitors has also increased by 2.3% to 133,367.