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Clifford Chance becomes first magic circle firm to reveal autumn retention score — 77%

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Canary Wharf-based giant keeps 36 out of 47 NQs

The London office of Clifford Chance has announced an autumn 2018 retention result of 77%.

From a qualifying cohort of 47, the magic circle player revealed 36 newly-qualified (NQ) lawyers will be staying on. Clifford Chance, which dishes out around 80 training contracts each year, received 44 applications and made 36 offers. The firm does not provide details of the departments or offices its rookies will qualify into.

Those sticking around at the firm will start on £87,300, however it’s worth noting that this figure includes what the firm describes as a “binary bonus”. Legal Cheek’s Firms Most List shows year one trainee salaries currently sit at £44,800, rising to £50,500 in year two.

The 2018 Firms Most List

Today’s result marks a slight drop on the firm’s spring 2018 performance. On that occasion, Clifford Chance posted a score of 92% (44 out of 48).

The firm was a solid performer in our Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey. Securing an A* for its office, training and perks, Clifford Chance racked up As for peer support, quality of work, tech, canteen and social life.

News of the firm’s autumn result comes just weeks after Clifford Chance unveiled a new tech-focused internship for some of its future trainees. Teaming up with London start-up Lexoo, Clifford Chance’s rookies will spend two months working across the online marketplace’s product, marketing, business development and operations teams.

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80 Comments

Anonymous

What a grim existence – stuck in that horrible Canary Wharf tower, working all the hours and getting paid nowhere near what their peers at a US shop would do.

(39)(8)

Anonymous

Target is around 1800, rather than 2500+ at US firms. That’s why there’s a pay differential, and that’s the message from the top.

(15)(20)

Anonymous

No US firm has a target of 2500 hours.

I would bet on average that a corporate associate at CC has no more than a 50 – 100 hour difference a year than that at a Latham, STB, etc.

(34)(2)

Anonymous

You are ill informed if you think US targets are 2500+ hours a year…

(26)(0)

mclaw

Utter rubbish. Most US firms’ target hours are around 1,800-2,100. Also, I have plenty of friends at CC and none of them get away with working 1,800 hours (at least not in the London office). The pay differential has nothing to do with target hours, it’s because CC is much less profitable than most good US firms. Don’t drink the management Kool-Aid.

(39)(2)

Anonymous

What kind of hours do they clock on an annual basis then? If not 1,800, what’s the norm then? 2,000?

(1)(2)

Anonymous

Don’t drink the US kool aid. Why are US firms more profitable? They don’t charge higher fees in London than MC firms because they can’t since their advice is often lower quality. They don’t have higher recovery rates and in fact usually services clients with awful records of paying like PE firms.

It’s because most of them hardly have a support function which means fewer secretaries, print room, and knowhow resources like precedents. This makes the lawyers’ jobs much harder but you get paid an extra £50k since the firm isn’t paying support staff salaries.

If you look at US firms which have established proper full service offices in London like White & Case, they don’t pay as much as say K&E.

I know loads of people who did both MC and US firms and worked far more hours at the latter purely because there was no support so they were processing comments themselves and drafting entire docs for which an MC would have had a precedent. Individuals may have different experiences but it is definitely a trend.

(9)(15)

Anonymous

This is patent bullshit. If you take levfin, for example, all of the sponsor precedents are prepared by US shops. You’re much more likely to get some bespoke off-market bullshit by going through a MC firm (or CC).

Anonymous

But Kirkland lawyers get no training on how to code…..

Anonymous

So what you’re saying is that for a specific area of finance US firms do have some precedents. That’s cool and everything but these are major complaints that I’ve heard from everyone I know who went from MC to US. I realise that as a US lawyer you are more likely to do one very specific area with no variety, but this sort of thing limits them from genuinely expanding their offering and if anything vaguely interesting does pop up you can’t do it properly. Lev fin is fine if you prefer proof reading for typos than engaging your brain, but there’s a wide world out there.

I’m certainly not arguing that the MC is objectively better than US firms. It’s just that this idea you pass up literally nothing to earn £50k more at a US firm is complete nonsense but seems to have become this huge masturbatory meme on LC comments. They do do more hours, regardless of targets, and don’t have as many resources. I notice you didn’t even bother to argue more generally about knowhow, secretaries or printing support.

Anonymous

So clients, perks and deals vs. knowhow, secretaries and printing support?

MC firms do have many templates on their systems but how necessary are they? Much better to just take a precedent from a recent deal, which is more aligned with the current market terms, than a hodgepodge of how things were done 10 years ago.

Legal secretaries are a remnant of the past. All power to those who rely on them but most lawyers I know are more than capable with modern technology and a functional IT department. US firms still have typing teams for those of us who like to do hand mark ups. Printing support is nice but meh…

As pointed out many times, hours are similar in US and MC firms. You literally cannot physically work harder than 12-18 hour days over the long haul.

Also the theme running through your posts that MC lawyers are better red letter lawyers is just hubris. Its largely immeasurable and a good fall back for those who cannot argue from objective criteria. Part of being a good lawyer is commerciality which comes from regularly seeing market terms. You cannot buy that if you’re out of the game.

Legal Rec

This is all ridiculous. There are smaller support functions a a lot of US firms, yes, but this is not the reason they can afford to pay £50k extra per Associate. How much do you think they pay secretaries…?

The reason is mainly down to Litigation in the US and I have been told this directly from a Skadden Partner in London. Legal fees in the US are much higher than in the UK and so the firms are much more profitable. Couple that with the fact that the more niche and less profitable practice areas are not really a focus in London (They mainly focus on Corporate, Banking and Disputes) and you see why they are more profitable and therefore pay more.

Anonymous

So according to your logic the reason why Kirkland & Ellis and Latham have revenues of $1m more than any of the magic circle, and PEP of over $1.5m more is purely down to having fewer support staff?

What a stupid comment.

2/10 – most likely from a current vac schemer or future trainee.

Anonymous

Nope it’s because they are dominant in the US market which is substantially more lucrative than the EU. The support point applies to the London satellite offices.

MC Associate

Get back to work vac schemer and stop chatting out of your arse

Anon

Yes there are long hours in magic circle as well as US, but the quality and depth of work at MC is superior to the US firms.

Also the salary levels stated for NQs are incorrect and lower than offered!

(3)(8)

Anonymous

Do tell.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Quality and depth of work at MC is superior? US firms have the biggest most lucrative global clients.

(10)(8)

Anonymous

What does that even mean? All the big US banks get their EEA advice from the Magic Circle.

(6)(4)

Anonymous

It means US firms dominate transactional law. Noone disputes that MC are left with the regulatoy crumbs chump.

Anonymous

That’s literally nonsense in the UK though. All of the biggest transactions are dominated by MC firms.

As for ‘regulatory crumbs’, a lot of reg matters – contentious and advisory – stretch into multi-million pound fees next to which most transactions look pathetic. And the clients actually pay for them unlike the corporate deals where partners have to run around cap in hand begging to recover 60% of the WIP.

Anonymous

Your post is literally nonsense. I’ve done transactional work for 20 years in UK and US firms and have literally seen literally the most lucrative deals and clients (PE firms do pay up for complexity and market knowledge by the way, their simple deals literally get done by DLA et al at rates the MC can’t afford to dip to) and the partners that are best at doing those deals literally move from UK to US firms. Where 15 years ago you would have looked first to CC for M&A now the same clients instruct the same people at Latham. Finance work that would have gone to A&O now has its natural home at Kirkland, Latham or White & Case. The remaining UK strongholds are UK public company work at Slaughters (very vulnerable to Brexit) and the corporate team at Freshfields (though poor management strategy is seeing the best people from that team opt out too). The top London offices of US firms are profitable in their own right, not just as satellites. And that trend is literally not going to reverse any time soon. And those MC partners brought their knowledge and skills with them and have hired PSLs and subscribe to the best external resources in the top US firms. Yes the MC firms have huge knowledge and training databases but most of it is out of date and generic. If you are not doing lots of deals you can’t train associates on market practice.

Anonymous

Do you wanna say ‘literally’ one more time for me please?

Anonymous

You literally missed the point you literal dodo. You must work at CC and be excited about your pay rise?

Anonymous

Does anyone else find Dominic Raab really attractive?

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Salary at CC goes up in early June, but the firm does not want them to be released (God knows why). So rather than be unhelpful, update on us on the increased? 2/3k more? And that is including bonus!

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Less than inflation…

(0)(0)

Anonymous

LC stop referring to this dead firm as part of the Magic Circle. It’s so sad.

(46)(19)

Anonymous

Why wouldn’t they? Has anything changed recently? They’re still a legal corporate powerhouse in the UK aren’t they?

(19)(17)

Anonymous

HSF, NRF and Travers Smith have a more impressive offering.

(15)(6)

Anonymous

Hahahahahahahahahahahaha

Wrong.

(7)(11)

Future Trainee at HSF

HSF and Hogan Lovells offer the same quality work for similar pay and better hours. #SayNoToMagicCircle

MC trainee

Better hours… afraid not. In fact it’s lower quality work for slightly less pay and similar hours.

HL Trainee

I’m sure in some departments and some instances the hours are just as bad. But as a general rule as a whole package including office, secondment, hours opportunities etc I’d rather be at Hogan Lovells / HSF than slaughter and may. I’m not certain about the other MC firms though

Anonymous

Slaughter and May partners make dough tho

Anonymous

Slaughter and May shits all over a fggty little shop like HL or HSF you deluded muppet. Get the fuck outta here

Anonymous

Not an exactly stellar result now is it.

(12)(0)

“binary bonus”

A binary bonus is when you find a tasty floater in the fifth floor swimming pool.

(20)(0)

Anonymous

Comments are closed on the Tommy Robinson article so I just wanted to say:

Tommy Robinson is a complete and utter chopper.

(23)(1)

Anonymous

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

(1)(1)

DWF Future Shareholder

££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Trainees at CC work insanely hard. 18+ hour days are a regular.

(10)(1)

Anonymous

Top banter. Thanks mate.

(8)(0)

Anonymous

No banter, truth.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Go long on one of the law firm IPOs and you’ll never need to work an 18 hour day again. They’re going to be the biggest IPOs since Steve Madden.

(6)(0)

Larry Wildman

Rumour has it Gordon already has a huge shirt placed on DWF’s stock. You’ve heard it here first.

Gordon Gekko

Surely you meant short?

Larry Wildman

No, a shirt. It’s XXXXXL.

Marlon

Bollocks

Larry Wildman

Fuck off

Brando

Make me.

Anonymous

*The ludes kick in* SHTEEEEEEEEVE MAAAADDEN

Anonymous

Complete and utter bollocks

(0)(0)

Anonymous

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

(1)(2)

Anonymous

the job sucks. I’m in biglaw. still in the office obviously. who gives a flying toss?

do something else. retention rate is marred by the fact 50% of those staying will leave after year 1 or shortly thereafter. by 3pqe and 5 at absolute most, I am out of private practice. it is souldestroyingly awful. run. run. run.

(12)(1)

Anonymous

Are you at Kirkland?

(1)(2)

Anonymous

do you think I’m at Kirkland because you know nothing about US or city firms but merely read some gossip that they pay well and push hard and believe they are some kind of exception?
Oh yassss you do.

I was a chump once. Still am in many ways. Don’t do it. All of you should p1ss off and leave this forum to rot and do something better with your crappy lives.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Dechert?

(64)(0)

Anonymous

With the amount of self loathing and general resentment coming through the comments along with a reference to biglaw, I would expect either Clifford Chance or more likely Freshfields. The latter is known to have a huge moral problem in the associate ranks.

Anonymous

But i thought Dechert was biglaw?

Anonymous

Shoosmiths?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Jones Day?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

King and Wood Mallesons?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Asshole & Ovary?

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Dickert LLP

Anonymous

Wank Gotball & Minges

Anonymous

Shitty Austin?

Anonymous

Fapgate LLP

Anonymous

It’s nearly 10k more

(2)(0)

Anonymous

You mean the salary increase?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Bollox

(0)(0)

CC Insider

CC to up salaries to £105k by end of July, to directly compete with ‘large-intake’ US shops like W&C.

You’ve heard it here first folks.

(2)(2)

Anonymous

Does it include bonus?

CC Insider

Nope, bonus will now newly be stacked on top of 105k base. If you exceed your targets, you’ll go up to £115-125k total compensation.

This brings CC way ahead of the rest of the MC.

Anonymous

That’s an excellent development – thanks for sharing!

Another CC insider

A recent memo also said that if you’re a particularly productive fee-earner, you’ll be gifted with a bespoke molded-plastic 12in dildo, complete with every varicose vein and bump on your chosen Equity partner’s cock. It’s by far the most exclusive perk in the MC.

Trainee

Wait, how do you know this? Surely they are not upping the salary by 25% , and then also bonus? How are they able to sustain this and their PEP with their profitability?

Anonymous

Utter shite. Raises are already here. Similar to last year.

Anonymous

Stfu u dickhole.

Anonymous

I heard it’s £250,000 so as to compete with the prime minister’s office

Comments are closed.

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