Reed Smith keeps 12 out of 14 qualifying trainees, including King & Wood Mallesons’ survivor

Firm also reveals its training contract applications have almost doubled

The London office of international law firm Reed Smith has posted an autumn 2017 retention figure of 86%.

Of the 14 final seat trainees due to qualify this September, Reed Smith confirmed that 12 will be staying on as associates. Three newly-qualified (NQ) lawyers are commercial disputes bound, while a further two will join the firm’s corporate team. The remaining seven autumn newbies will join: the financial industry group, shipping, energy and natural resources, entertainment and media, real estate, labour and employment, and intellectual property.

The firm — which offers around 24 London training positions annually — confirmed that all 12 soon-to-be associates are on permanent contracts.

Among Reed Smith’s new recruits is a former King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) trainee. Following the collapse of KWM’s UK, European and Middle East (EUME) arm earlier this year, a host of City firms came forward to help its 60 or so stranded trainees in a rescue mission first revealed by Legal Cheek. Reed Smith took three of KWM’s wannabe lawyers. One is staying on, one is leaving this autumn, and the final KWM recruit will qualify next year.

Commenting on the result, Reed Smith’s training principal, Samantha Roberts, said:

We are pleased to maintain a strong trainee retention rate this autumn. 86% of our qualifiers will be staying on to progress their careers with us, including trainees who joined us from KWM in January. This represents a 19% increase on last year’s autumn retention rate. Our retention rate reflects both the high quality of our trainees as well as the firm’s philosophy of recruiting the best talent.

If this retention news makes you hungry for Reed Smith trainee life, be prepared to face more applicants than usual. Highlighting the intense competition among aspiring solicitors, Roberts added:

We continue to see an increase in applications for our training contracts and this year the numbers have almost doubled, reflecting the firm’s reputation and the attractiveness of the experience on offer. We extend our very best wishes to those pursuing new opportunities outside the firm.

Legal Cheek’s Most List shows that Reed Smith’s new associates will start on a salary of £70,000. Its trainees currently pocket £40,000 in year one, rising to £44,000 in year two.

For all the latest commercial awareness info, and advance notification of Legal Cheek’s careers events, sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub.



That’s such a snobby thing to say. You have to start somewhere right. At least you can qualify with Reed Smith, which gives you a semi-decent shot at moving to a better shop on NQ or shortly after. I agree, RS is not “amazing” but it’s still an opportunity.

Surely being a trainee at Reed Smith and qualifying as a solicitor is better than being a paralegal at Simpson Thatcher or Cravath.

Reply Report comment

Depending how they calculate their overtime pay you would probably earn more as a paralegal at STB or Cravath than you would as a trainee at Reed Smith.

Reply Report comment

I used to paralegal at a US firm and would regularly clear £1300-1500 after tax per week.

But I also lived under my desk and would bathe in the office toilets.

Reply Report comment

Definitely not. My base rate was £26/h, 1.5x that as overtime and double rates post-midnight and weekends.

I was earning more than most NQs in firms across the City.

Reply Report comment

There ain’t any – these roles are strictly offered to people with TCs already secured on a 6-12 month basis. It’s a terrific little earner if you can get on one and don’t mind grinding the cash out, but yeah, definitely no future in these roles.

However, I do know of people who began as paralegals at Cadwalader, Baker Botts or Willkie Farr and have since laddered up to doing a TC there and eventually qualifying. Those shops pay £110k+ at NQ.


Oh, going to get that English law TC at Cravath are we..? Perhaps do circa 5 mins of research into a firm instead of googling ‘best law firms ever’ in the name of sounding informed on an online comment section.

Reply Report comment

Reed Smith is a good firm, but it could do with modernising. To give you an idea, I understand the following to be true:
– Bubble n squeak is still sold in the café for breakfast.
– There is a smoking area (albeit just about outside these days).
– The toilets are flushed by pulling a handle on a chain.
– Lawyers have their own fax number.
– A jazz version of Celine Dion’s greatest hits plays on loop in the lifts.

Reply Report comment

I hear that a man once got tragically stuck in those lifts. Lifts can trap us one time, and feel like a lifetime, it never opened for too long.

Reply Report comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.