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Freshfields posts uncharacteristically low trainee retention rate

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Legal Cheek called it back in May

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has unveiled a retention score of just 66%, confirming rumours that the magic circle outfit was bracing itself for an uncharacteristically low autumn result.

Of the 41 final seat trainees due to qualify, 27 will be staying on as newly qualified (NQ) associates. The firm, which dishes out around 80 City training contacts each year, said it had made 29 offers. Freshfields’ trainee development partner, Farah Ispahani, said:

Our retention rates across each intake vary as we balance a number of different factors when determining the offers that we make to individuals. We are committed to our existing level of training contracts in London and we expect our medium-term average for retention rates to be upheld.

Today’s disappointing 66% result won’t come as a surprise to our regular readers.

Back in May Legal Cheek revealed that the Anglo-German outfit — amid trainees grumbles about the firm’s personal assistant policy — was readying itself for a score “of around 65%.”

At the time, we speculated that Brexit was to blame, reporting: “As uncertainty prevails about the UK’s future deal with Europe, associates are apparently opting to stick around at the firm longer than normal, with the lower than usual attrition resulting in reduced capacity for NQ talent.” The firm did not comment on these May rumours.

Freshfields is normally a strong retention performer, regularly posting 80% plus, and is one of the top paying outfits in the City. Legal Cheek’s Most List shows that trainees pocket £43,000 in year one, rising to £48,000 in year two. Upon qualification, an NQ will earn a salary of £85,000, and enjoy perks including freshly made sushi and subsidised ski trips. The firm recently saw profit per equity partner (PEP) notch up 5% to £1.55 million.

The only other magic circlers to have released their 2017 autumn figures are Allen & Overy and Slaughter and May. Allen & Overy confirmed this week that 40 out of 47 September qualifiers had opted to stick around, equating to a solid retention score of 85%. Meanwhile, Slaughters kept hold of 29 out of 32 NQs, giving it a score of 91%.

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144 Comments

Anonymous

the honeymoon’s over, little bitches

(0)(0)

Freshies trainee

I agree with most of what has been said so far, my impression is that this has been caused by fewer associates leaving the firm (so fewer NQ positions). It is sad to see so many leaving and fairly demotivating for the remaining trainee population. Also, this will start to affect the firm at grad recruitment level – I was lucky and had offers from Slaughters and Links as well as two U.S. firms and may have made a different choice if this story had come out way back then.

Also, Freshies very much pushes the angle that it’s been around longer than any other MC firm, is the only one that’s preeminent in Germany, and good at both corporate and litigation. The more snobbish Freshies partners need to be careful or they’ll start to be viewed as the same as Clifford Chance and the gilded rep will start to slip

(7)(0)

Anonymous

If you were choosing now who would you pick?

(0)(0)

Freshies trainee

Honestly, probably still Freshies but possibly Links or one of the U.S. firms. I didn’t enjoy Slaughters, although obviously a very good firm.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Salary rises to compensate? Am I right in thinking they haven’t been announced?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Late to the party but are people at Slaughters really that bad or is it just a stereotype?

(0)(0)

Smitten

They’re just not very hot.

(1)(0)

SandM trainee

More holiday than the rest of the MC, consistently excellent retention rates, decent training, slightly below market pay, intelligent and generally human colleagues, no billable hours targets at any level, distant partners.

Mixed bag for sure – but based on everything I’ve heard, I’d take it over Freshfields in a heartbeat.

(4)(2)

Freshfields trainee (unemployed)

Completely agree.

(5)(1)

Linklaters Partner

Tom stop deleting all my comments.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Grow up moron

(0)(0)

Linklaters Partner

Get fucked, arsehole.

(0)(0)

SM and FF Offer Holder

HELP – Currently deciding between Slaughters and Freshies.

Pros for FF:
– Strong in Dispute Resolution, esp Arbitration
– Still band 1 in Corporate (same as SM)
– 3 months seats
– Better international opportunities

Cons for FF:
– Moving office to Liverpool Street halfway through my TC
– Low retention rate
– Current low morale amongst trainees

Remaining questions:
– Are the hours worse at FF or SM?
– Which firm is better placed to survive Brexit (FF is very strong in Europe, esp Brusses and Germany)?

Interested to hear what everybody has to say!

(2)(2)

Freshfields trainee (unemployed)

Please don’t let these Legal Cheek rumours dissuade you from the opportunity to train at one of the oldest and most prestigious law firms in the world.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

The restructuring and retention rates are hard facts, not rumours.

(2)(0)

Smitten

Whatever.

Tommy, I would like to nominate Stu for the sexiest solicitor in the City. How do I do this?

(0)(1)

Comments are closed.