DLA Piper offers future trainees £10,000 to delay TC start dates by a year

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Exclusive: Or £5,000 for six months

DLA Piper is offering future trainees up to £10,000 to voluntarily push back the start dates of their training contracts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Legal Cheek can reveal.

The international giant has given its new recruits a choice to either start as planned this August, delay until February 2021 and receive a £5,000 grant, or start in August 2021 (a year later than planned) and pocket £10,000. This is regardless of where the trainees are located in the UK.

Legal Cheek‘s Firms Most List shows DLA takes on around 70 trainees each year across its offices in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield and Edinburgh. The outfit’s London-based rookies receive £45,000 in year one, rising to £50,000 in year two. Newly qualified pay, again in London, sits at £78,000.

Liam Cowell, DLA’s UK managing partner, told Legal Cheek:

“In line with many other law firms, we are preparing for a gradual and voluntary return to offices over the next few months, and as such, are offering all our new trainees a similar gradual approach by phasing our dates to start their careers at DLA Piper. Fostering an environment that is supportive and collaborative is central to our values as a firm, and with this staggered approach we will be able to offer our intake the very best in-person training experience, even during these challenging times.”

DLA also confirmed its summer vacation scheme will be running virtually this year.

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News of the cash incentives come just weeks after we revealed that Irwin Mitchell (IM) had delayed the start dates of its future trainee solicitors in light of the pandemic. IM’s trainees due to commence their training contracts with the firm in August 2020 will now join in February 2021 — six months later than originally planned.

Meanwhile, Squire Patton Boggs warned it may have to push back the start dates for its TC holders “if trainee workload reduces over the coming months”.

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Omg SPB got a mention – finally



“Meanwhile, Squire Patton Boggs warned it may have to push back the start dates for its TC holders “if trainee workload reduces over the coming months”.”

This is already happening, they’re just keeping a lid on it. Trainees set to qualify in September this year were told they might not be able work on NQ pay, and will be “legal assistants” until work picks up.


CMS Trainee

Over at CMS we consider every fee earner at SPB a legal assistant. There are power houses like SPB and then there are power houses like CMS. Levels.




It’s only a powerhouse (aka large) by the number of lawyers it has, whether or not it is a powerhouse by substance is another story.


CMS Trainee

You’re probably from one of those weird listed firms that belong on the high street. CMS = power house

CMS 4th Seat Trainee (Now Kirkland NQ)

Good enough to get me where I am now, with lambos and Dom Pérignon.


There was a time (before it became a series of letters), where Cameron McKenna was a prestigious firm and top Corporate outfit (a Magic Circle outlier, similar to Macfarlanes or Travers). It’s star has really faded over the last decade, I think principally through a loss of identiy as a serious City outfit and too many mergers.

Kirkland & Ellis 1PQE

Both CMS and Squire Shet Bog are intellectually challenged bed-wetters compared to the Chad powerhouses of the US shops.


US 1st year

ooooft – for any person reading this who has received this offer, you would be a fool not to take it.

Enjoy a final year of freedom and come back to (what should be) a better job market and a better environment to train in than you will otherwise get if you start in Aug and WFH the whole time.


Heaven on Earth

Agreed, take the £10k, get on a flight to Thailand, hitchhike it down to Ko Yao or Ko Lanta by the Andaman Sea and just lie low for several months. You’ll have all the fragrant Thai stick and cold Chang beer just to yourself.



What are people meant to do in that time? There’s nowhere to travel to.



No jobs either.


Take the £10k, get on a train to Scotland, hitchhike it up to Wick or take a ship to Orkneys by the North Sea and just lie low for several months. You’ll have all the fragrant Scottish haggis and cold whisky just to yourself.


Connoisseur of Fine Spirits

Cold whisky?! Oy vey!



£5K for 6 months?!

Jheeeze Louize – I can work as a turd farmer for 6 months and earn more.



Alice Herbert

Agreed. I polish turds for a living and make more than that.

Mind the corn.



But then you’d be at work, as a turd farmer. In this case, I’d rather take the £5k and f off to New Zealand for 6 months and come back to a better job market.



Good luck trying to get into NZ.



Good luck trying to get into NZ.



Good luck surviving on £5K in NZ for six months! You’d have to sleep in a sheep shed most of the time.


CMS Trainee

Any truth to the rumours HSF and NRF are keeping their NQs on trainee salaries for six months?



HSF have put in place an “indefinite” pay freeze at all levels, which also applies to qualifiers. Qualifiers must also take their 3 month (basically unpaid) qualifying leave immediately.


CMS Trainee

Shocking but unsurprising that LC won’t report this.


Curious Clive

Serious or just bantz? How is LC not reporting this?!?


That's Life

He who pays the piper calls the tune.



Could make sense no? Lots of people take nq leave anyway. As long as theyre offering nq roles, they would come back when work has picked up, and presumably when the pay freeze is lifted? Just thinking out loid


Aishah Hussain

Thanks for the heads-up. Do you have anything to support this? Email me:



3 months quali leave. that’s so much. think my firm only offers 6 weeks


US 1st year

This is an utter disgrace


Future Trainee

Are there any other firms that haven’t been named that have offered the same to their future trainees?



Gateley are pushing back qualifying until january 2021, so they will be working on trainee salaries for 3 months with likely no NQ job afterwards. Trainees also on a 20% pay cut



DLA retention this year is atrocious too



DLA retention rate this is atrocious this year too


Curious George

What is it?


furloughed trainee

Good, and all firms pushing back start dates should offer the same incentive, especially Irwin Mitchell.

To the posters above saying £5k is pittance – do remember some of the Intake are students who will be used to living on a £4K maintenance loan for a year!



There are no students living on £4k maintenance. That does not cover rent + food for any student.

They either had help from parents (probably still fine then) or worked part time (probably not fine now).


Angry person from Low Income Background

Loooooool what a tone death statement. Do you guys have any idea of what some people went through during University?



As a person from a low income background, I know for a fact that there’s no way you lived off £4k. You receive ~£8k in the maintenance loan if your household is low income, stop talking shite.



“tone death”. Jesus Christ.



DLA gives 5k maintenance during LPC so 10k is kinda a step down


You do the math!

How is that a step down? It’s clearly a step up…


DLA trainee

In London it’s £10k



For people still working normal jobs, this would be pretty decent.


4PQE MC Associate

What I would give to be given 10k and take a year out…

Any trainees moaning about this need some perspective.

Even if they want to get on with their lives, it’s free money – they can always get a job for a year or better yet go travel.

Life is short and the working world is shit.


Deferred trainee

Some people actually like their job


MC Associate

What would you know? I’ve been doing it for 6 years and you haven’t even started.

Don’t for one second believe all the grad rec hype or that your 2 week vacation scheme was anything remotely like what the job is day to day.

The job can be good, can be bad, can be tough, can be rewarding, but the chance to take a year out with a £10k sweetener is a great opportunity – I would wager that if you asked 100 associates at city firms now 90/100 would recommend taking it.


Another angle

Assuming your retirement age stays the same and you have partnership ambitions anybody deferring loses out on, conservatively, a few hundred k.


Get real

I can’t even begin to explain what a stupid comment this is.


lol subservient beta wagecuck spotted



To those saying to just ‘get a job’ are fundamentally missing the point as to why future trainees will be deferred – demand has decreased and consequently there are very few jobs out there. The market will be flooded with LLB graduates, LPC graduates and TC deferrals, with even few paralegal roles available and competition even fiercer.


Actual lawyer

Who said it had to be a legal job? If you genuinely think a university graduate with a TC lined up can’t support themselves by getting a job in another industry you are deluded. People need to stop feeling sorry for themselves and see the opportunity. The economy will recover, things will be fine eventually, but they are being given £10,000 to take a year off and start once things get back to normal – it’s a no brainier.


Actual Human

The very fact people’s mostly sole focus has been law and they have no other relevant experience that would enable them to get a job in another industry at a high enough pay to cover their bills is a rather significant reason people are not convinced they can just ‘get a job in another industry’. Sure, they could go down to Tesco and get a job but in all honesty, who wants to do that for a year when they were just about to start what they actually wanted to do?



£10,000 + a minimum wage job + you can move back in with mum and dad or go travelling?

Be serious, they have been living on less during the LPC and now they have infinitely more time…



Have you ever heard about retail or hospitality sectors?



Have you ever heard of coronavirus?

What retail and hospitality sectors?!



Exactly that which will be first to pick up after pandemic. Commercial awareness at its finest here.



The same which will be the first to pick up after pandemic. Commercial awareness at its finest here.



Great deal for those in Scotland, basically half your first seat trainee salary for doing nothing.



But you have to live with the Sweaties. Not such a great deal.



Those entering the employment market during a recession earn on average 10-15% less over their lifetimes than those entering at other times.


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