Simmons & Simmons has retained just half of its trainees

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By Katie King on

Firm points to Brexit to explain disappointing result


City giant Simmons & Simmons has revealed its 2016 autumn retention rate, and it’s pretty low.

Out of a cohort of 24 trainees, just half will take up newly qualified (NQ) associate positions at the international law firm. To break down the figures, 17 of the newbie lawyers applied for NQ jobs. Thirteen received offers and 12 accepted, equalling a retention rate of 50%. This 12-strong team of fresh-faced lawyers will take home a not too shabby salary of £68,000 each.

For a big City player like Simmons this result isn’t great, and the firm realises this.

Training principal and partner Alan Gar has described the autumn result as disappointing and said he was “genuinely sad” to say goodbye to the lawyers who decided to leave.

The cause of this lacklustre retention rate? In Gar’s opinion, it’s at least partly attributable to “a period of uncertainty caused by Brexit”.

Simmons appears to have been hit hard post-24 June. In August, Legal Cheek reported the firm — which offers 38 training contracts a year — is making lawyer redundancies at its London HQ. The month before, the outfit confirmed profit per equity partner (PEP) had slid by 10% from £650,000 to £585,000.

A simple case of the post-referendum blues, or something deeper? Well, even before the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union was announced, cracks were already beginning to show.

At the beginning of June, the firm reported it would be ditching its Master of Business Administration (MBA) programme for its future trainees. A few months before, the Simmons raised some eyebrows across legal London when it trumpeted a spring retention rate of 78%, but then declined to comment on how many trainees started that round’s qualification process in the first place.

In other autumn retention rate news, national firm Shoosmiths has announced a so-so score of 79%, with 15 out of 19 trainees accepting offers to stay on. Over at US big shot Sullivan & Cromwell all four of its final-seat London trainees have been retained, and will now be paid a whopping £101,500 a year for their efforts.