Herbert Smith Freehills reveals 94% autumn retention following post-Brexit pay boost

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31 out of 33 qualifying trainees to stay with global giant


Herbert Smith Freehills has revealed an impressive autumn retention figure of 94%, just one month after handing out a chunky post-Brexit pay increase to its junior lawyers.

The global outfit confirmed that 31 trainees — out of a pool of 33 — applied for full-time associate positions. All 31 newbies received offers and accepted them.

Today’s announcement means Herbies has matched its spring performance. On that occasion the firm held on to 33 trainees from a cohort of 35.

Just last month Herbies — which has 23 offices in 18 different countries — became one of the first City firms to announce a post referendum pay boost for its junior legal talent.

With the likes of Berwin Leighton Paisner, Gowling WLG and Addleshaw Goddard freezing lawyer pay and pointing the finger firmly at Brexit, Herbies opted to wave two fingers at it instead. Last month the firm chucked an improved remuneration package at its newly qualified (NQ) lawyers that could see them walk away with as much £90,000 including bonuses.

Elsewhere this retention season, Anglo-German powerhouse Freshfields trumpeted an impressive trainee retention rate of 95%. Meanwhile, City outfits Mishcon de Reya and Fieldfisher posted perfect 100% retention scores.



Who cares?



Most law students/trainees



The 33 trainees care. No one else should really. Even those thinking of applying to the firm in question won’t need to bother worrying about 1 intake’s retention rate. Considering they will qualify 5 years later, who knows what would happen to the firm and it’s retention rates during that time.

A better indication would be how many of these NQs are still at the firm 1 and 3 years post qualifying.



It’s important to have the info every round to look at a pattern. If a big firm is consistently getting retention of 60-70% then that’s something to watch out for. Rates over 90% aren’t interesting on their own except as an indicator that the firm is doing fairly well and is currently a safe bet to train at.



A percentage rarely tells the real story though.

Low figures could be because at qualification people want to leave the firm because it is awful or because they get better offers elsewhere.

High retention rates rarely factor is things like NQs being put on fixed term contracts. They never provide any insight into situations like 0-3 year PQE lawyers leaving in droves whether voluntary or not, and then being replaced with cheaper NQ staff.


Absolutely, but they tell you something.

Low retention means either that people wanted to leave on qualification or the firm booted them out – neither is especially good.

High retention doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is wonderful and people are happy, but I think we all know that MC and SC firms don’t keep everyone on with short term contracts. We also know that very few lawyers at these firms expect to stay all the way to partnership and most end up leaving to different firms or in-house roles. That isn’t necessarily a negative thing.

So while it’s obviously incomplete, high retention is basically better than low retention.


Your momma



Post Brexit.

So the sky didn’t cave in after all.



Brexit hasn’t actually happened yet.



Irwin Mitchell retention – 0%



KWM retention: -30%



Haha, this is great


Je suis Harambe

KWM, what a joke lol.



Y u hatin wasteman?



Addleshaw retention – 100%, because they know that five years in to their tough, top notch practice they will be ready for jobs as Senior Associates at powerhouses/ behemoths/ top law firms like Allen and Overy etc.

True dat. Whilst five years into a career at IM you may as well just retrain as a circus chimp. Which wouldn’t take a lot of effort.



DWF had 1000% retention, the remaining stragglers were thrown off the Walkie Talkie.

I know this because Andrew Leatherballs said it.



“Leatherballs” haha


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