Allen & Overy keeps 39 out of 47 qualifying trainees

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Spring score of 83%

Allen & Overy (A&O) has posted its latest retention score. From a March qualifying cohort of 47, the magic circle player confirmed it made 40 offers. With 39 accepting, this hands A&O a solid 2019 spring result of 83%.

Traditionally, A&O is one of the City’s more consistent retention performers. In the previous four rounds, the 44 office outfit has posted rates of 80% (37 out of 46), 80% (32 out of 40), 85% (40 out of 47) and 82% (31 out of 38).

Commenting on its latest result, graduate recruitment partner and training principal at A&O, Claire Wright, said:

“It’s great to announce another high retention rate, demonstrating our compelling offering and commitment to recruiting and training the very best young lawyers. We have an incredibly strong pipeline of talent coming through and I look forward to watching their careers progress at A&O.”

The 2019 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

As rumours of a megamerger with Los Angeles-based outfit O’Melveny & Myers continue to swirl, Legal Cheek‘s Firms Most List 2019 shows that those who have chosen to stick around post-qualification will start on a recently improved salary of £83,000. Rookie remuneration currently sits at £45,000, rising to £50,000 in year two.

So what’s life over at the firm’s swish Spitalfields office? In our latest Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey, A&O notched up A*s for tech, perks and office, as well as As for training, quality of work, peer support and canteen.

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Safe to say, that given the prestige and quality of training which are characteristic of an A&O TC, all the trainees who were not retained upon qualification can simply waltz into any other legal role, be it at another MC firm or any higher paying US counterpart.

The moral of the story, is that it is impossible to “lose” from a MC TC, and one from A&O nonetheless. Correct?



This comment serves no purpose.



It’s possible to lose from any TC if you’re complacent.



Nonsense – if you haven’t been offered a role at your training firm, you are kinda fucked as other firms will ask you whether you have such offers before during their interview process. Given that you were a bottom 10-20% performer during your TC if you failed to get an offer, why would other employers, nevermind other MCs or US firms, be eager to employ such people????



The majority of trainees leaving, leave due to there not being enough open spots in the departments of their choice. They are not “binned”, they simply have the opportunity to qualify exactly where they want to.

MC trainees usually don’t settle for “second best”, and this means not being complacent as to qualifying into a department which is not of primary interest. I believe it does make sense to leave for another MC firm or any other US firm (which primarily recruit from MCs anyway)!



Yes, but those trainees would have offers from departments from not of their first choice. If you have 0 offers from any department from your training firm, you were a bottom performer and other City firms know that.



Not everyone is a whore who applies to every department they have sat in


Swipe right.


I’m in recruitment and any NQ the first questions for any of them who were applying to another firm upon qualification was ‘why aren’t you staying on at your current firm?’. One was even rejected as the firm weren’t convinced by someone’s reason for leaving. Unfortunately it is a factor for some firms.





His Holiness. St. The Rt Hon. The Rev. Dr. Sir. Alan Blacker, The Lord Harley of Counsel, BA (Hons) (Oxen), LL.B (Cant), BCL (Hull), FRCS, D.Phil, ARCM, Knight of the Order of St Mohammed, CJSM, GCSE (Hons), Queen’s McKenzie Friend

The correct name of the firm is “Alan & Ovary”.

My inflatable and I have set up a new firm to replace JAFLAS and I thought this would be most appropriate.



Are US firms still on a hiring spree in London?


'Berg HR

Yes – but you’ll need to be in the top, top, top 1% of your intake to be considered for a newly qualified titanette role at our tippity top shop.



Sorry, but this is outright wrong. US firms mainly recruit from MC firms (due to how excellent and long-standing their training regimes are). This means you need to be an average MC trainee (which is still pretty amazing), before any US firm will move on to consider a trainee coming from a SC firm or below.



Utter bollox, there’s NQs joining from all kinds of firms to US shops as long as you know how to work it and have the right connections throughout the City, such as the Masons



Pinsent Masons? Or the Freemasons?


Lol’d at freemasons 🤣


How does one join the Freemasons? Do you think it help with my career?


Illuminati are very decent for networking.

LC Everyman (on track for a Desmond at Keele)

A&O is crap. Magic circle lmaoooo, more like bum circle. Applying to Kirkland atm actually, btw is private equity interesting? Also, just on the off chance I don’t get in lool, anybody know how hard it will be to move there later from a random shit shop?

Also, anybody know the NQ rate at Drinker Biddle & Reath?

God Bless America!



Drinker Biddle, absolute top powerhouse



NQ is full Cravath in London.






US firms recruit from a wide array of firms. In my experience (at a US firm) a significant proportion of ex MC NQs are simply not very good and I often wonder if they had been spoon fed during their training contracts.



What a lot of people don’t realise is that the best MC NQs tend to stick around, for a little while at least – 1-3 pqe. That’s just the way it goes. Partners sweet talk them…plus staying on for a bit, monitoring career prospects/preferences and potentially waiting for a ‘ideal’ move, rather than entering a saturated NQ market and taking what’s currently available, is seen as a sensible strategy.

Trainees who move immediately on qualification, even to very good American firms, tend not to be the best. There are exceptions of course, but I think anyone who’s worked in an MC firm would agree. They may have an offer to stay on from one department, but they generally don’t have offers from more than one; and if they failed to secure an offer from their preferred department (which is often the case) it’s naturally because they were not one of the best.

The typical LC commenter seems to think if you see someone going from UK to US at NQ, they must be a star. Not the case at all. The stars mostly aren’t looking to leave (yet) at that point.


US nq

Lmao stfu u dumbshit this is not true at all



HR propaganda



No, just an empirical observation. Sorry if it hurt your feelings.



How is it propaganda? Propaganda for who? Butthurt US fanboys. The opinion is consistent with the person above who remarked that ex- MC NQs at US firms are a bit rubbish.



Make sure you have a quota for JDPs, if not there will be too many old paunchy men



I am thinking of setting up an exclusive, edgy and sort of underground current legal affairs knowledge sharing club for qualified lawyers in London. I don’t have a venue at the moment but to gain a bit of momentum I was thinking about orangising some discrete meet up sessions in the park once the weather gets a bit better. I thought I would float the idea here first though. Thoughts?



Love it mate. I’d be up for providing some input. I definitely think there is a gap in the market that needs to be filled.



I would be keen, but I’m not sure about doing it in a park.



Park or gtfo


Bored of Law

Law is a pretty dull profession and after roughly 3 1/2 years in it I can safely say that the only thing keeping me in my current role is the money.

I work at a US firm that is pegged to the dollar, take home just over £7,000 after tax and have total outgoings (including rent/bills) on average of around £4,000 a month. After my NQ year I was able to save just over £32,000 whilst living a pretty good lifestyle (eating out lots, new clothes, holidays, etc.).

I fully intend to leave in the next 18 months or so, but it’s simply a case of wanting to have around £75k in savings along with working out exactly what I’d rather do next. The money is great and allows you to have this freedom to take some time off and take an initial salary hit, but the money isn’t great enough for me to have a job that I don’t find interesting at all. Many of my peers are in a similar situation and the only thing keeping lots of us in this is the money, nothing else.

If anyone also finds the profession equally dull, my advice would be to try to get into one of the high paying US firms as soon as you can, milk it for what its worth for a couple of years, then get out and never look back. You are looking at £150 – £180k total comp when you factor in your bonuses in your NQ – 2PQE years at these firms, it really is a life changing amount of money and enough to help you have the chance to take a break or risk and do something you actually want to do with your life.

The sums of money you are on at an English firm, even including the magic circle, are good, but they aren’t life changing by any means, at least not until you are 5 years + into associate life (but **** that).

Mini rant/reflection as I turn comments at my desk at 00:30. Genuinely intrigued if there are people who find this job interesting because it really really isn’t.



I genuinely love it. When I got my TC i was pretty sure I would feel as you actually do but I think a lot of it’s to do with mentality. Yeah proofing a MWD at midnight on a Friday will seem soul crushing if you only see it in that context. But people, and especially partners, in my dept definitely have a winning mentality that the profession gives them a good chance to exercise. Even in transactional work, out negotiating the other side, getting that killer piece of info and sometimes meeting a client directly are hugely rewarding moments even if they don’t happen everyday. Additionally, not only is the money great, but I feel important and skilled enough that if I did ever want to leave the skills I have alongside my firm’s name stamped on my cv is going to stand me in good stead. So yeah, at 2 PQE I love it.



Another person here who enjoys the job and doesn’t want to do anything else. There are upsides and downsides to practising in a City firm but I have never regretted entering the profession.

There are a lot of lawyers like you, no doubt, but I do think your negativity can be unfairly overbearing on students who may not even have had the chance to study law yet. Every single job in the world has people who are unhappy in it – even professional sport, and other generally enviable careers. You have to take account of your personality, aims desires, interests, motivations. And your have to take responsibility for your fulfilment, or lack thereof, if your choices aren’t aligned with the above.

City law is tough, no one denies that. Doesn’t apply at every firm, but at many one contends with long hours, pressure, ruthless culture, high concentration of sociopaths/backstabbers, management (often) ranging from clumsy/thoughtless/unfair to sadistic/cruel. I’ve seen it, lived it, and at times despaired as much as the next person.

The best advice I was given is that you must qualify into an area you genuinely enjoy rather than where your firm wants you to go, or where you think is strategically smart to go. This is the great advantage of training in a large firm, the opportunity for exposure to different areas and the increased probability of identifying something you enjoy. I am in disputes and it is right for me. I find my work intellectually stimulating, the more so as I advance in seniority. Over the years I’ve been lucky to work on many challenging, unique and memorable matters. The skillset I have gained as a litigator is also one I deeply appreciate and am increasingly grateful for (it comes in handy more often than I’d anticipated). The gratification of winning a big case is really up there with the best moments of satisfaction, personal or professional (granted I don’t have kids or anything, but I mean that). And I have seen how deeply valued the work we do is by clients; they confide in us and, often, live the ups and downs more vividly than we do.

Most importantly, I couldn’t do something which didn’t engage my brain – I was never, ever going to do corporate for instance. If I had chosen corporate, I too would have lost the will to carry on. Find something which piques your interest – where it doesn’t feel like a slog to do a bit of reading on it on a Saturday – and you will have a reason to get out of bed in the morning apart from to earn a quick buck. You will be genuinely invested in the job, by which I mean you will not only know a lot about it, but care a bit about it. This is in turn will motivate you to put in the work and actually want to become the best you can be at it. It is possible to find that ‘something’ within commercial law – many have and are doing it.



1. You imply that you’re a junior associate. I sincerely doubt you’ve ever been paid £180k.

2. Lawyers at US firms still pay tax. This point is often lost in discussions of “earning double” etc. 120k before tax isn’t life changing, that’s an exaggeration. Making partner or reaching a seven figure salary is life changing…being an associate, nope. You are just very comfortable – and obviously better off than 99%. But in absolute terms, frankly you aren’t rich. Once you hit your 30s, dump a baby in your wife and are confronted with the reality of things like school fees, you realise this.

3. “I fully intend to leave in the next 18 months or so, but it’s simply a case of wanting to have around £75k in savings along with working out exactly what I’d rather do next” – ha…yeah, if I had a penny for every time I’ve heard this. You will still be in law 5 years from now, but you’ll be in-house (and still telling wide-eyed colleagues stories about how ‘brutal’ it was that one time when you worked at latham).


Bored of Law

1) I am 1PQE as you can work out from what I have said. I didn’t say I was on £180k, I have given you my take home pay and you should be able to work out from that that I am on a salary between £140 – £150k. Again, reading properly what I said, I said that when you are up to 2PQE you are looking at up to £180k of total compensation, which at my firm and a handful of other US firms, is completely true when you factor in what our bonuses are. So you can continue to doubt all you like.

2) It’s all relative to the individual. When you come from a one-parent family like I do and never had the luxury growing up of eating out at restaurants, going abroad on holiday or spending money on yourself on things like nice clothes, I can assure you that it really is a life changing amount of money. I compare my situation to those of my friends from school and we live completely different lives now.

3) Sure, well you can have your opinion on what path you think I will follow and I will have mine.



I genuinely enjoy parts of my job, although if I won the lottery, I wouldn’t work another day as a lawyer.

I moved in-house very early on in my career as the right opportunity came up. The “client” experience in-house is wholly different to private practice. There is a lot of satisfaction being both a decision maker and advisor to the business, especially on strategic matters, plus the variety of work (IP litigation, GDPR, M&A, commercial contracts, internal projects, board meetings / committees) is incredible. But the flip-side of that is dealing with a lot of sh*t from senior management/the board/parent companies and cleaning up a disaster someone else has made. I don’t miss the billing targets, time recording, business development, general arse-covering and hierarchy which you might get in a law firm. But I do miss some of the structure and support (e.g. PSLs, admin support, actually working IT) of a law firm. My days (not today) can often be more intense than when I was in private practice, but on average, the hours are far less. Swings and roundabouts – each to their own I guess. The work, mentality and lifestyle are all just different.

Generally, the team trained and qualified at a variety of MC, SC, City and US firms and made the decision to take a pay cut for a more balanced lifestyle and a very different challenge.



The A&O retention rate isn’t particularly great, yes not being kept on looks bad and most won’t be going to US or other MC firms.

Training in MC firms is also not that great. They get lots of formal training but minimal responsibility.

US firms also do not put special value on the magic circle. The vast majority of junior recruits come from their own trainee intake and trainees and juniors from other US firms. It always depends on what department is recruiting and whether the candidate and their experience is a good fit. There’s a lot of unseen musical chairs in the background too – if a MC partner moves to the US, their relevant MC associates follow but not because they were specifically headhunted. People have been recruited partly for their language abilities, the firm they came from didn t much matter.

Pretty sure the students saying “safe to say [insert rubbish here]” won’t get training contracts or are going to MC firms and want to feel better about themselves and their massive insecurities. Maybe the prestige of A&O will fill that hole in the soul. (Spoiler: it won’t because A&O isn’t prestigious and there are literally two firms looking down on them from the floors above in thr same building which pay their associates nearly twice as much.)



And this one time…

At band camp…


Final year non-law student

Could anyone tell me what hours are genuinely like in non-transactional seats like litigation, tax, employment and competition at top US firms in London?






Depends on form, depends on team. Most trainees don’t realise hours are as long in advisory in US firms as transactional because a) supporting transactional in same deals (in some advisory you will do hours of doc review doing the same thing as you would in transactional except doing competition or reg specific docs); b) working for multiple transactional departments, not just one; c) having your own clients wanting tax or reg memos directly. Work is better than if you don’t like transactional obviously but hours are still long.


Final year non-law student

Thank you- so is 60 hours a week a realistic expectation or will it be longer? Presume there is less weekly variance in hours worked in advisory/litigation compared to transactional work?



It’s often a steady 9.30am to 9-11pm at my firm for those in advisory. Some weeks you might be leaving at 6.30, but they are few. A day or two a week when it’s not that busy maybe leaving at 6.30, usually Friday. But then you have to spend additional time outside work keeping up to date with the relevant area.



70 hours a week in advisory?

Keeping in mind that investment banking is about 75hrs, that seems completely off.

I completely understand 70 hours on a week with a particularly sensitive deal in the signing/closing stage, but otherwise, you would probably be looking at considerably less than that, especially for an advisory department!


IBD 75 hours lol. Maybe at french banks or something. Top US boutiques (lazard/evercore/moelis etc.) try 90-100 average.


lol 90-100? try 263335826354738 hours a week. On a GOOD week. Advisory in corporate law is only slightly better at 263335826354737 hours a week. Honestly, you are all such chumps


^No idea what triggered you. If discussion of working hours troubles you, that’s regrettable. Just stating facts: average at American boutique banks is 90+.


Associate who was tesponding on advisory hours.

Don’t tell me it is completely off. You are students and don’t know what the hell you are talking about so don’t talk down to me or anyone else pretending like you do.

Every associate has to bill (at most US shops) 2000 hours annually and the advisory associates bill some of the highest in my firm. They don’t have an easy ride.

Advisory isn’t transactional so closing is rather irrelevant for most in advisory. Those are peaks and troughs experiences in transactional teams. The peak for advisory will be earlier on in diligence, review and drafting memos.

If you have a question, pose it like a question, not a silly statement. I have absolutely zero inclination to help you.


Just a gentle reminder that 2000 hours is about 8.5 hours a day, once holidays are taken into account.

Add an hour and a half for dinner and an hour and a half for training sessions, faffing and non-billable stuff and you get to an average of 11.5 hrs a day.

What that translates to, in my experience of working in a transactional dept for 3 years of a US firm, is generally working from 10-8, with some periods of billing 12-14 hours a day (and working until midnight with shorter/virtually no breaks), and generally calling it a day between 5 and 7 on a Friday.

Not the prettiest sight, but not the horror show some others would have you believe.

U.S. trainee

Not querying your experience, just adding my own, which has been tougher. My 1st seat was corporate, 9-midnight was about average. 8pm exit uncommon. Granted, firm is a known sweatshop. From what I gather a lot of transactions folk are on track for nearer 2500 hrs.




What people don’t appreciate about Meghan Markle is her insidious plan to overtake the monarchy.


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