Herbert Smith Freehills keeps 27 out of 35 qualifying trainees

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By Legal Cheek Reporter on

77% of London rookies stay on

The London office of global megafirm Herbert Smith Freehills will retain 77% of its trainees set to qualify this spring, it has announced.

The figure marks a fall on the recent strong figures recorded by the firm, with HSF keeping over 90% of its newly qualified (NQ) solicitors during the previous four retention rounds. Indeed, this is only the fourth time HSF has dipped under the 80% retention mark since 2009.

Not that HSF — which scored A*s for training, perks and international secondment opportunities in the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey — is alone in recording below average rookie retention rates. Over in Canary Wharf rival firm Clifford Chance managed to hang onto just 67% of its new qualifiers, causing surprise among Legal Cheek commenters. Berwin Leighton Paisner fared even worse as it announced earlier this week that just 55% of qualifying trainees would be handed full-time roles.

Is it the economy? Is it outsourcing up north? Is it the rise of artificial intelligence? Is it snowflake millennials’ sense of entitlement scuppering their job hopes?

Or maybe it’s just a blip. The good news is that some firms are defying the 2017 retention wobble. Slaughter and May, for example, has unveiled a perfect 100% score, as has Mayer Brown, while Trowers & Hamlins managed 93% and White & Case 88%.

The full HSF breakdown is 28 offers made to 35 qualifying trainees, with 27 accepting. Thirty-three of the 35 applied for NQ positions.