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White & Case keeps 75% of its newly-qualified solicitors

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Dip in form continues for the usually strong retention performer

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White & Case has managed to hang on to just 75% of its London-based newly qualifying (NQ) lawyers.

The New York-headquartered behemoth — which pays its London NQs a cool £90,000 a year — revealed that from an autumn cohort of 20, just 15 will be sticking around, resulting in a disappointing final retention figure of 75%.

The firm’s new associates will be split across several of White & Case’s key practice areas including banking, capital markets, commercial litigation, financial restructuring & insolvency, international arbitration, mergers & acquisitions and project finance.

White & Case — which offers up to 50 training contracts each year, split across two intakes — has, for such a normally strong retention performer, experienced an uncharacteristically poor year.

Like many US outfits in the City, White & Case has regularly posted perfect 100% retention scores. However — having dramatically upped its trainee intake last year — the firm saw its retention crown slip, posting a spring 2016 score of 87%.

Focusing on the positives, Justin Benson — who head’s up White & Case’s trainee solicitor programme in the London — said:

Demand for English law qualified lawyers continues to grow both in our London office and across the firm’s international network. We have consistently high retention rates in London, reflecting our ability to attract, retain and support the development of the very best young lawyers. White & Case also has an enviable track record of promoting our best associates to partner, making us a compelling destination for young legal talent.

Earlier this summer, White & Case — leaping aboard the MoneyLaw bandwagon — upped the pay of its fresh-faced New York-based associates to a staggering $180,000 (£124,000). But unlike fellow US outfits Akin Gump, Davis Polk, Kirkland & Ellis and Latham & Watkins, the firm failed to chuck the same monster pay increases at its hardworking London lawyers. As a result White & Case’s NQs are now a whopping £34,000 off the pay pace.

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Last week a host of City firms took the opportunity to trumpet their autumn retention figures.

Berwin Leighton Paisnerwhich froze pay earlier this summer citing Brexit — could only muster a figure of 65%, keeping just 13 of its 20 autumn NQs. Meanwhile at the other end of the retention table, Norton Rose Fulbright racked up an impressive score of 85%, saying goodbye to just three NQs. Elsewhere, City law firm duo Ince & Co and Withers revealed respectable results of their own, posting 89% and 83% respectively.