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Exclusive: Magic circle and other top City law firms to take on all of King & Wood Mallesons’ trainees

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And stricken giant’s future trainees being pointed to priority TC vacancies

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A host of top City firms, including a trio of magic circle outfits, have put plans in place to take on all of King & Wood Mallesons’ (KWM) trainees.

Legal Cheek understands that Clifford Chance, Allen & Overy and Linklaters have already held advanced discussions about taking on some of the stricken giant’s 50 or so trainee lawyers. With a number of other City firms also indicating a willingness to help out, our sources state that KWM’s entire trainee cohort — who are in their first, second and third seats — will very likely be given the option to complete their training contracts elsewhere.

Those in their fourth seat, and due to qualify in February 2017, are set to receive special dispensation from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), allowing them to practise as a fully qualified lawyer next year.

There is also positive news for those with training offers at KWM. Legal Cheek has been told that the firm’s future trainees — who faced the daunting prospect of reapplying for training contracts all over again — will have their applications fast-tracked and prioritised by these firms.

It is understood that the outfits involved — including the magic circle threesome — are unable to go public with their plans until they are formally approached by KWM. Our sources state this will take place when KWM officially enters into administration, which is likely to be in January 2017.

Trainees who do make the switch may have a fight on their hands when it comes to securing an associate role post at their respective firm, but at least they will be a fully qualified lawyer.

The proposed move throws up some interesting points. A KWM trainee who moves to one of the magic circle firms mentioned above could receive, in theory, a tidy pay increase. Those in year two of their training contracts at KWM currently earn £44,000. However a move to Clifford Chance for example, where a second year trainee earns £49,000, could see them pocket an extra £5,000.

It’s worth noting some of the troubled firm’s trainees have already secured positions elsewhere. Yesterday it emerged that three trainees from KWM’s real estate team had been handed positions at global titan DLA Piper. Making the move along with eight other lawyers, it’s expected that more trainees will be snapped up as part of partner hire deals.

Things aren’t looking quite so optimistic for KWM itself. Last week it emerged that Dentons — the largest law firm in the world by lawyer headcount — stepped away from merger talks with KWM. This was seen as the last-ditch attempt to save the firm; it now looks almost inevitable that it will enter administration. But at least it looks like the trainees of this once well-respected City outfit have been handed a lifeline.

Update 23/12 — 11:49am: Linklaters and Allen & Overy have issued statements confirming their plans to take on KWM trainees [Legal Cheek]

116 Comments

Anonymous

I think they are worried about more than the extra money they’ll make LC… Imagine being in their position. Not knowing what is going on. Congrats to those firms who’ve come together to help this sinking ship.

(68)(1)

Not Amused

Marvellous news!

(24)(6)

Adam

Amazing that they can just chuck out dozens and dozens of training contracts for these prospective KWM trainees, yet they continue to screw hundreds of applicants on a year-by-year basis and abuse their own aspiring paralegals.

It’s really good news for these guys, but it’s only further evidence of an industry that is self-serving and self-selecting, and thus entirely deserving of its reputation of increasing ill-repute.

KWM serves as a monument to that which is wrong with so many City firms today: self-centred, self-selecting, self-serving and consumed by avarice to the exclusion of almost everything else.

(90)(48)

Hey don't look at me I didn't either

Did someone maybe not get a TC this year?

(39)(34)

Anonymous

Adam. Let me guess, you didn’t get a training contract?

The reason these people are being given the chance of carrying on their training contract elsewhere is because they have already shown that they are smart enough to get one.

Unlike you.

Who is an idiot…

(31)(26)

Anonymous

I’m sure all those who toiled their guts out to bag a TC with any of those MC firms will be delighted that a motley bunch of ‘future trainees’ from a sub-par shop like SJB will get preferential treatment.

The quality of people entering A&O or Links is far superior to the candidates at KWM. It’s the reason why I chose Links over SJB a few years ago.

(33)(51)

Anonymous

Funny that because I highly doubt you even got a training contract there. I think you might be bullshitting.

(10)(20)

Anonymous

That is not what is wrong with that comment…

(0)(6)

Fubar

What’s wrong with it then?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Just because someone has a TC at Links compared to a TC at KWM does not make the person with a TC at Links “far superior”. The ability to impress grad recruitment, unfortunately, is not that impressive and largely down to luck beyond the application stage. It is about clicking with the right people.

(14)(9)

Anonymous

Chippy fucko.

Adam Deen

Stfu dongmuncher.

Adam

Except I have a TC…

However, that doesn’t change my concern for others; my view is not one dimensional like yours.

You seem to have forgotten all the support staff that aren’t getting bailed out, and the consequences this has for trainees at the MC and other firms, and NQ positions.

It will also have consequences for next years prospective trainee applicants at A&O and others.

So whilst it its good news for those concerned It’s the shysters at KWM that put trainees in this position.

So give up the sanctimony.

(5)(1)

Anonymous

If you have a TC then you must understand the unique situation trainees are in and that their ability to qualify is dependent on many factors their employer provides, and the strict regulation put in place on their qualification period. If it was easy to transfer trainees, then it would be a process that happens regularly without firms collapsing.

Your view is still quite one dimensional. Maybe those trainees at firms taking on the KWM trainees will benefit. Maybe they are in a department that could use an extra trainee for 6 months as they are particularly busy, but that department can’t get the extra trainee in because the trainee intakes are fixed at what they are for the next two intakes with very little ability to increase them.

Plus 1 extra trainee in an intake of 45-50 at the likes of A&O is not going to have a massive impact on NQ qualification chances. That’s the numbers we are likely to be talking about here – A&O are not going to take on dozens even split across various intakes.

(2)(2)

Adam

We are not talking about 1 trainee here and 1 trainee there; this is 50 training contracts. At an average salary of let’s say £40k that’s £2m a year not including tax/NI and Professional Skilla Course etc.

“the trainee intakes are fixed at what they are for the next two intakes with very little ability to increase them.”

Obviously not, quod erat demonstrandum.

Don’t misunderstand me, good news for KWM trainees. No sourness towards that. However A&O and other MC firms have been reducing trainee numbers for years to jack their PEP and increasing the number of paralegals. Does that mke good business sense? Yes, but it simultaneously hurts a lot of aspiring lawyers and paralegals because training contracts have shrunk from 6308 per-financial crisis to 5000ish now. That’s a lot of TCs each year and turnover and profits are higher now than 2008.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Are you stupid enough to think A&O are taking on 50 trainees?

(1)(2)

Adam

Lol. Your just a waste of time, of course not.

Just forget it.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

* You are or You’re

Anonymous

Or thou art

Anonymous

So there are 50 trainees at KWM.

Say they are split around 10 firms (will probably be more than that though).

5 trainees per firm, probably split across multiple intakes, some with only just over 6 months to go. All of a sudden your £2 million figure is closer to £200,000. Firms are probably spending more than that on putting nice flowers in their offices to impress their clients each year.

(1)(0)

Adam

Those ten firms can then increase their trainee intake by 5 each next year then.

After all, if it’s just £200,000 per year so why not….

(1)(1)

Anonymous

There’s no point increasing trainee intakes if business projections suggest they will be under utilised.

Just because they have capacity now, doesn’t mean they will in 3-5 years.

Adam

You think these 50 trainees, which were not ‘projected for’ are going to utilised to the maximum?

Someone had the audacity to call me naive…

Anonymous

Utilised enough for them to be profitable is all that matters.

Anonymous

You can’t add up

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Adam – Is your training contract at Maclay Murray & Spens LLP by any chance?

(1)(2)

Adam

No.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

I don’t know why, but this complaining reminded me of a very long rant on LC from a certain “Adam Fouracre”. I’m pretty sure it’s the same Adam.

(5)(5)

Adam Deen

It’s not you cockspray.

(1)(11)

Anonymous

wait it’s you?

the guy who thought dla was a magic circle firm and also stated he was at jones day. only then to post that he was still hoping to apply to a mc firm??

damn, i thought we were rid of you mr deen.

dry humper.

(18)(3)

Adam Deen

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(14)

Anonymous

Are you joking? Jones Day? I am not the same person who you’re arguing with but be realistic. I would rather work at some regional conveyancing firm then there.

(12)(1)

Adam Deen

Clearly a non-achiever then. Sucks to be you lol.

(2)(15)

Anonymous

Not as much as it sucks to hang around on a minor legal news site commenting on stories by insulting people and pretending to work at a law firm despite numerous contradictory comments that show you don’t work there, and that you know nothing about law firms.

Adam Deen

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

Anonymous

I suggest you use English if you’re going to comment.

Adam Deen

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(1)(1)

Admiral Akbar

How do they screw applicants?

(2)(1)

Anonymous

Nice one Adam, you say its a self-selecting industry but firms coming to the rescue of current and future trainees indicates the opposite.

(3)(3)

Adam

See the comment of Anonymous below at 1:44pm as to why, and then once again you see that it is self-serving rather than altruistic.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

It’s a bit of a no brainer for firms no matter what their “status” is. Vast majority of the applicants applying for training contracts now won’t be able to start in the New Year, with the majority still being in their undergraduate degree or part way through the GDL/LPC. If a firm has capacity of take on trainees now and doesn’t have to fork out for LPC and other training costs, why wouldn’t you take these people on in the short term if there was enough work for them to do? Any other type of recruit, even existing paralegals within the firm, will generally require more time, training and development compared to someone who has done the job for the last 4-16 months.

(18)(0)

Anonymous

Law firms are not charities or government ministries

(7)(0)

Anonymous

How is rejecting applicants “screwing them over”?

You can’t realistically expect firms to increase their intakes above business requirements. Otherwise you’d just end up with an enormous surplus of qualified lawyers but no jobs.

There are always going to be more people wanting to become a trainee solicitor than there are spaces, that is just life.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

“formerly approached”

(3)(1)

MC TC

Why oh why are we letting these muggles in?

Freshfields and Slaughters have the right idea…

(27)(10)

Freshies NQ

Hear hear. CC is clearly desperate for more turd catchers if they are willing to offer TCs to such tramps.

(18)(13)

Harriet the HR Lady

I love how this story is a wholly unconfirmed rumour and yet Alex decides to trumpet it as some exclusive LC scoop. “LC understands”.

Desperate hacks.

(16)(11)

Alex Aldridge

Rest assured Harriet that we wouldn’t run it unless it was watertight.

(28)(33)

U2ers

On

(2)(0)

U2ers

On a separate note why aren’t LegalCheek events posted on YouTube anymore?

(0)(1)

Cretin

No one cares Alex.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Bet they can’t believe their luck- got a TC at a failing firm, ended up in the magic circle.

(32)(1)

Anonymous

I’m sure the trainees at CC, Links and A&O feel exactly the same way.

(16)(0)

Anonymous

What a nice Christmas legal story.

Perhaps Santa really is a partner in Elf, Sleigh & Snow, the northern powerhouse (‘Artic Circle’ firm) that specialises in shipping and trade, private client and family.

(6)(6)

Adam Deen

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(2)(5)

US Trainee

Shocked to see the likes of CC, Links + A&O taking a bunch of the current trainees/future joiners from a very average firm. If they were good enough for the magic circle they wouldn’t have been training at KWM in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a nice thing to do and its always good to see the industry helping out a firm that’s gone down the drain. But equally I can’t help but think that the current trainee crop at the aforementioned firms will be a bit miffed to hear that a bunch of trainees at KWM will be joining their intake.

(22)(18)

Anonymous

Exactly my thoughts! But im sure upon qualification the initial trainees of CC, Links and AO will have priority and the KWM lot are just there to finish off their training

(5)(0)

Anonymous

If you’re at any sort of half-way decent City shop, you can get good training. It’s when you’re an associate when you’re going to take more advantage of the quality of the partners you work for. After all, the MC associate ranks are full of people who trained elsewhere.

(5)(1)

Anonymous

If the recruits at KWM are not of the same standard as the MC firms, then surely their existing trainees have nothing to worry about at qualification?

(8)(1)

Anonymous

The fact that the Magic Circle firms are all too willing to take on trainees from a sinking sub-par shop like King & Wood shows just how overrated those firms really are

(13)(23)

Anonymous

Excellent idea. The firms will almost certainly make it clear that there won’t be NQ jobs for them unless the ‘real’ trainees have all been placed first, but at least they get to qualify and have these firms on their cv.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

What if some of their trainees are below standard and the KWM trainees are actually better lawyers?

Having recruited rescue trainees from other firms at a MC firm, the trainees taken on were assessed/interviewed prior to them starting and then their performance as a trainee was clearly stronger than some of the existing trainees, some of which were never going to be kept on no matter what the circumstances.

(8)(1)

Anonymous

Trainees below standard wouldnt be kept on in any case.

(0)(1)

Adam

If they can chuck out 50 extra training contracts for these proles just so they can qualify, with no expectation of an NQ job then why don’t they do this for a lot more people?

So shysters can increase their PEP from 900k to over £1m whilst they grind the faces of other people’s children into the floor (never their own, they are too well connected).

Sorry I won’t join in the backslapping and high fiving of the MC who want to play the part of the moral heros.

I am happy for the KWM trainees but this really underlines the fact that these firms, who have been shrinking trainee numbers for years, are just ****s.

(1)(3)

Anonymous

You really are naive for someone who supposedly has a training contract. Good luck trying to hide your bitterness and resentment for those trying to make a profit. God knows how you will deal with your colleagues and clients with such an attitude.

(1)(2)

Adam

No problem at all, I am not joining a MC firm and I am glad about it and as for clients, why would I? Most of them are not operating in a closed shop?

This is not a question of trying to make a profit, I’ve zero objection to that at all. It’s the extent they wish to profit and the sheer greed and their wanton disregard for others. It’s exactly that kind of attitude that has resulted in KWM going into administration in the first place.

(3)(3)

Anonymous

You are almost funny with your naiveity. Good luck to whatever firm it is you are joining, they and you are clearly going to need it.

(0)(7)

Adam Deen

Smoke a dong pinhead.

(0)(2)

Anonymous

I love it how individuals who ended up at the said MC firms involved think that somehow, because they passed through a largely arbitrary selection process they are somehow in a higher class of being than those who fell foul [hint: not necessarily due to lack of ability] of said selection process and thus ended up working at another firm. I feel sorry for the KWM trainees having to join rank with such odious people.

And yes, I am currently sat in a MC firm myself, before everyone churns out the usual “well you didn’t get a TC” BS.

(35)(7)

Adam Deen

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(5)(10)

Anonymous

no you’re fucking not.

let’s not get the other article out to see how that thread went for you…

wanker.

(9)(6)

Adam Deen

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(9)

Anonymous

http://www.legalcheek.com/2016/09/gowling-wlg-lifts-post-brexit-vote-pay-freeze/

think the thread on here says it all about your credentials.

khunt.

(10)(1)

Adam Deen

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(12)

Anonymous

Stop lying mate that’s all we ask. Just admit that you’re a failed lpc grad sat in your parent’s spare room using a few minutes of the day when you aren’t crying about your life to post on LC pretending to be at Jones Day.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Why the hell would anyone pretend to be at Jones Day?

Adam Deen

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

Anonymous

Give us some proof then.

Adam Deen

I gave your mum the Proof last night.

Anonymous

Very witty. Shows your intellectual level, if you are reverting to “your mum” comments (for the second time on this thread). Given that you have provided no proof, we can only conclude that you are a liar.

Adam Deen

You’re a weak betacuck. No time for your ilk, training at Jones Day keeps me busy.

Anonymous

That’s strange, you said before that you were an associate there. Or is that training to be the tea boy you’re referring to?

Anonymous

Those firms’ retention rate for the next few years will drop like a stone.

(7)(0)

Anon

How many of the lucky cohort are off to medical negligence giant Fletchers?

(5)(0)

Anonymous

What about the famous Northern titan DWF? Alex said they’re the most prestigious firm in the City.

(3)(0)

Not Amused

Just to clarify for our young readers:

1. All industries are self serving. Both partnerships and companies are also (quite rightly) under legal duties to be so.

2. All industries are self selecting, subject to rules prohibiting certain forms of discrimination. Long shall they remain so, every attempt to appoint in any other manner (for example communism) has failed.

Being aware of 1 and 2 are part of what it means to be commercially aware.

(8)(5)

Anonymous

Where is this legal duty for companies and partnerships to be self serving found NA?

Chapter and verse please, I’m intrigued.

(1)(3)

Anonymous

For companies? All over the Companies Act you twat!

(6)(1)

Anonymous

Respectfully, you definitely make it to, or survive in, practice if that’s the best reply you can come up with.

You still haven’t answered the question. Which provisions have the effect of requiring companies or partnerships to be self serving?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

The fundamental duty of directors is to promote the success of the company for the benefit of its members, see s172 of the Companies Act. If directors were not trying to maximise profits they’e be liable to get sued by their shareholders …

(0)(0)

Anonymous

So what happens to recently qualified KWM Associates?

(0)(0)

LegalRec

They are interviewing all over the city and even internationally. Forget the majority of the nonsense above. KWM candidates are well received by other firms.

(8)(5)

Anonymous

Lol no they’re not. KWM in London does not have half the reputation as KWM in Oz/HK.

SJB was always a bit of a joke.

(6)(10)

Anonymous

KWM in HK is a joke too…

(4)(0)

LegalRec

Nah, you’re wrong mate. I can assure you that they are interviewing and receiving offers left right and centre. Back in your box…

(5)(10)

Anonymous

Thanks for the insight chinny. Off to spamming LinkedIn you go…

(11)(0)

Anonymous

Hi KWM associate!

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Great to see the usual LC keyboard warriors out in full force today. Can’t we just be glad that a good number of trainees aren’t going to be without a TC and have had their careers saved? Its typical of the nonsensical, vainglorious attitude those at the MC come to acquire about so called ‘lesser firms’. Little do they know how irrelevant they really are and how poor (yes poor) the quality of training at the MC compares to other city outfits.

(11)(6)

Anonymous

I’m not a MC trainee (unfortunately) but I’m quite sure they get the best training in the country and will be miles ahead of counterparts when they reach qualification.

(5)(7)

Anonymous

I thought this too but it seems much of their time is spent doing dull administrative tasks and very little law. Each to their own, though. Its not a competition.

(11)(2)

Anonymous

I know it’s not a competition. But it’s not the best feeling when you know you’ll probably be sub-par to all the MC trainees for the rest (if not most) of your professional career just because you started off in what MC trainees would consider a “mediocre” or “sub-par” place…and it’s not that you’re working any less hard.

(3)(5)

Anonymous

This is called life.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

It’s not for MC trainees.
They’ll always have the tag “trained at [MC Firm]” and even if if they don’t end up as a partner at their firm, every other firm in the City will be desperate for them to join their partnership.

(0)(3)

Anonymous

Complete and utter bollocks. No firm is “desperate” to hand out partnership…as if training in an MC firm is sufficient to wing your way into equity. You have no idea how the system works, kid.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Probably some fresh faced kid saying something like that.

Training at Slaughters doesn’t mean much, if you’re next move is to DLA.

Train

Anonymous

I seriously doubt this having acted opposite (and being friends with) many MC associates.

(1)(2)

Anonymous

Does that mean MC trainees will have more competition for places on qualification?

(2)(0)

Ratbum

I hear DWF chased a few of KWMs “less able” trainees but they chose to work in Billingsgate Fish Market so that they were in a better position to pursue a career.

(20)(3)

Anonymous

Bantz.

(2)(0)

MC Associate

Can’t wait to have more trainees to bend over. Hope they have stocked up on lube.

(5)(0)

KWM Trainee

Would like to point out, on the record, that absolutely none of this is confirmed – nothing set in stone and nothing guaranteed in terms of firms and capacity. No idea where this has come from – the article isn’t true.

(10)(1)

Anonymous

Hear hear, LC are lying again and giving false hope. None of my mates working at the MC shops mentioned heard anything even remotely hinting at this supposed rescue. RoF and the legal press didn’t corroborate either.

(7)(1)

KWM future trainee

This is completely untrue, this whole article is false. Considering we have been told that the firm is moving into administration, we would have also been told about the MC firms interested. Legal cheek isn’t helping us with these ‘exclusive’ stories, knowing the kind of reaction they would provoke

(2)(0)
(0)(0)

Anonymous

No it is not.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Yes it is!!

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.