CMS posts 72% trainee retention score

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44 out of 61

International law firm CMS has posted its 2020 trainee retention score.

Of the 61 trainees due to qualify this September, 44 will be staying put as newly qualified (NQ) associates — or 72%. CMS confirmed it made 46 offers.

The outfit’s London office will take 32 new recruits, Glasgow and Aberdeen will receive four each, Sheffield gains three, and one will start lawyer life in Edinburgh.

CMS confirmed NQ pay remains the same and there have been no deferrals to qualification or training contracts.

Legal Cheek‘s Firms Most List shows the London-based NQs will start on a base salary of £73,000. CMS’s rookies earn £43,000 in year one and £48,000 in year two.

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The 72-office-outfit — which formed in 2017 through a three-way merger between CMS Cameron McKenna, Nabarro and Olswang — was a strong performer in our Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2019–20, scoring A*s for tech and peer support, as well as As for training, quality of work, partner approachability, perks and office.

Earlier this month, Sidley Austin and Mills & Reeve posted results of 100% (11 out of 11) and 89% (16 out of 18) respectively — although both scores include one associate on a fixed-term contract.

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CMS Trainee

Powerhouse firm. And we aren’t forcing our talented and elite NQs to remain on trainee salaries for several months either like the bums over at HSF and HL. Levels.


Kirkland NQ, also known as the PE Powerhouse Deal Lambo Monster

£73k, mega whaccccc


CMS Trainee

You’re on a £12k salary at my local high street firm + a discount at the co-op next door. We wouldn’t even hire you as a paralegal and you’re an associate on showround. Bum. Levels.



My fave part about this K&E faker is they are implying someone at K&E has ANY time to look through legal cheek, a student news website. If you were actually there you’d be worked to the bone my friend.



These responses are always funny – even people billing >2000 hrs per year have down time (e.g. if you’re waiting on comments from the other side for something that needs to be turned urgently and you’ve got nothing else on). it doesn’t mean that they necessarily would spend it on Legal Cheek, but to think that people at Kirkland don’t have any spare time in the day is nonsense.


Bart E. Fuchs, Attorney-at-Law

If by having down time you mean taking in a few trembling Juul rips in the gents’ traps while compulsively refreshing your work phone’s Outlook app for plz fix emails and trying to keep your stress-induced IBS under control then yes, people at Kirkland do have spare time.


It’s not a ‘bit’ of spare time though is it, they comment on everything constantly. They’re 100% a student.


This isn’t happening at HL. HL salary is reduced to 85k and still more than CMS



CMS is shet though


Just finished first year fml

Just out of interest, as a student wondering what firms to apply to, why does CMS have quite a poor rep on this site?



Shet firm


As with every Ménage à trois, it starts off with each participant believing that they will be pleased but it often ends with at least one party feeling neglected.


It’s not, it’s just a bandwagon everyone jumps on


HSF just confirmed today to the lawyer that NQ salaries are unchanged. Why were people on here peddling stories about it being frozen at trainee levels?


All aboard the bantz bus

Soz brah it wuz all jus a bt of banta


Chad Chadington

This is a worrying sign. CMS would normally have a retention rate like this, but caused by trainees leaving by choice. Now 15/61 are being shunted off without an offer. This is at a firm like CMS where they supposedly pay under the market rate to weatherproof against downturns like this. The NQ market is absolutely shot and this is a worrying indicator for all.

Before the stupidly asinine “but it’s CMS” comments come in, what do you think comparable firms that pay more are going to do? They’re just as screwed.


1PQE City Associate

To be fair there is not much firms can do when they do not have a lot of spare cash. For most of their first year NQ associates are overglorified trainees who are just starting to learn how to do proper associate work. Hope all NQs will be well but I totally see why some firms are doing this.



“but caused by trainees leaving by choice.”

How do you know this?

“Now 15/61 are being shunted off without an offer.”

And how do you know this?


Can read

The article expressly says that 46 offers were made to the 61 trainees.


Actually passed GCSE English

‘“Now 15/61 are being shunted off without an offer.”

And how do you know this?’

The article says CMS made 46 offers. 61 minus 46 equals 15 trainees that were not made offers.

can u read


Actually knows how NQ jobs are offered

Not sure if you know how NQ roles are offered but you actually have to apply to be made an offer. If trainees decide they want to work somewhere else they don’t apply for roles and are therefore not made offers.


Keep yer chin up

“Sidley Austin and Mills & Reeve posted results of 100% (11 out of 11) and 89% (16 out of 18) respectively”.

How did you arrive at the conclusion that “The NQ market is absolutely shot and this is a worrying indicator for all”? Retention rates published to date do not support your view.



Much smaller trainee intakes – not comparable.


Chad Chadington

Because I’m a fourth seater applying for NQ roles, so I know better than most what the market is like. My original recruiter has been furloughed since February, and though Kirkland and Debevoise both wanted me to go to second round interviews they’ve stopped arranging them. The market is shot.



Have you burger flipping experience?


MC Trainee, Head Trainee of 2020 Cohort

Which roles did you apply for Chad? I’ currently in my final seat, having done a double seat in Funds/Asset Management and hope to walk into a Funds NQ role at top US firm in September. Any tips on which recruiters to tap into? My CV is impeccable, surely I’m a prime candidate to get on the US buy-side action.



‘Head Trainee’ is also a prized role at my shop. Congrats chump.

Troll-O-Matic 1000

10/10 quality trolling right there, I almost took your comment at face value a split second. Bravo sir.

Major ooof

Ouch… Good luck to those poor souls who were left without NQ roles.





The Optimist

Retention rates appear surprisingly high given the current circumstances. Those who have drawn comparisons with 2008 seem to have missed the mark with their predictions of a “bloodbath” for NQs and juniors… and long may it continue in this way.


Watch and laugh my friends

Lmao just you wait for the September 2020 NQ retention rates. This was for March, well before the real economic pain set in.


Fact checker

You couldn’t be more wrong. This lot qualify at the end of August 2020.



Stfu u simp



This is for the September rates, can’t you read?



I think he was referring to the wider legal market, but yeah lmao obviously didn’t read the article


Just here for the comments

This site publishes articles? Who would have known.


I think it was 80% last time.


CMS 4th seat trainee


Wise one

A lot of firms are pretending to act like they have learnt something from the 2008 crisis and are trying to keep on as many NQs (as possible). The real impact will be felt with the March 21 qualifiers, when firms realise that there hasn’t even been enough work for the Sep 20 qualifiers…

Remember, it was first said here.



lmfao smh stfu


Wise one

lolololol ok babe, happy job hunting x



HL is looking like a 60% retention rate



HL retention 60%, NQ salary down to 85k and second year trainees held at first year trainee salary



What would a trainee not getting retained do now, especially in this economy? Go abroad? Leave law?


Col. Sanders

Apply to KFC, they’re hiring Qualified Deep Frier Operators.



I wasn’t kept on when I qualified aback in the day when my then firm’s retention rate was hovering around 60% for several years. Perhaps the best piece of advice I got was to try and stay at my firm “no matter what” to take the bad look off not being retained – so I was able to hang on for a few months via a contract role which I negotiated with the partner I sat last with – it was little more than doc review, but it kept me busy. That gave me the space to find another role when the summer frenzy died down a bit. That may be less of an option now, but there is usually at least one team in a law firm that needs some sort of interim support – litigation, real estate, restructuring, etc.

In this market I’d recommend simply finding anything – a doc review role for example. They are dull, but they can pay very well and will help you pay the bills. In one respect not being retained right now won’t look quite as bad as it would otherwise given everyone will appreciate the impact of the pandemic. I’d try to stay in the law so far as possible.

Going abroad is an option, but what do you have in mind? The impact of this thing is global and, given what’s looking like it will happen with Brexit, it may not be as easy to work in the EU.

You could, if you can afford, it go back to university. There are some excellent universities abroad that don’t charge massive fees. Holland, Germany and Sweden spring to mind.



Absololutee non of this wuld have hapened if it weren’t for the borders still being open.

Britain is rules the waves!





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