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Kirkland & Ellis reveals 56% NQ retention result

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Top paying global mega-firm sees autumn rate drop sharply

The London office of US outfit Kirkland & Ellis will retain just over half of its lawyers due to qualify this September.

From a trainee cohort of nine, the firm confirmed to Legal Cheek this afternoon that just five will start associate life at its Gherkin office (pictured top). This equates to a disappointing autumn retention figure of 56%, particularly when contrasted with Kirkland’s perfect 100% retention score from this time last year.

Legal Cheek understands that the low retention figure is a result of NQs being unable to qualify into their department of choice. Beyond confirmation of the 56% score, Kirkland has declined to comment.

Legal Cheek’s Most List shows that Kirkland’s five new lawyers are set to become some of the highest paid in the City.

Off the back of last year’s MoneyLaw movement in the US, a host of firms, including Kirkland, raised US year one associate pay to $180,000. Opting to chuck the same rises at its London lot, Kirkland’s NQs saw their dollar-tied salaries rise to a high of £147,000. Today, it’s £137,000 based on current exchange rates. First year trainees are on £46,000, rising to £50,000 in year two.

Remuneration aside, Kirkland experienced mixed fortunes in Legal Cheek’s 2016 Trainee & Junior Lawyer Survey. It scored A*s for quality of work, office and perks, and a mixed bag of As and Bs for categories including canteen, peer support and social life. The firm went on to scoop the gong for ‘Most Impressive Law Firm Office’ at our awards ceremony earlier this year.

The Kirkland news rounds off a day of retention rate reports. This morning Legal Cheek noted that Mishcon de Reya had posted a retention figure of just 64% (nine out 14), while Stephenson Harwood revealed a solid 90% autumn result (nine out of ten).

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