DWF defers training contract start dates by six months

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Thirty-one new joiners will now start in February

DWF has confirmed that it will push back the start dates of its next UK trainee cohort by six months.

Thirty-one trainee solicitors-to-be were due to start their training contracts at the firm in August 2020. They will now join in February 2021 due to the “practical difficulties presented by COVID-19”. DWF has informed all incoming trainees of the new plans.

In a statement, Carl Graham, DWF’s training principal, said:

“We remain focused on building our pipeline of trainee solicitors and ensuring that we can offer them the best training experience. Due to the practical difficulties presented by COVID-19, we have pushed back the start date of our trainee intake. This will allow the business time to return to regular work patterns and to adapt our training programme to ensure we prepare future trainees for the new ways of working.”

Today’s news comes less than 24 hours after we exclusively reported that DLA Piper is offering its new starters up to £10,000 to voluntarily push back the start dates of their TCs.

In April, we revealed that Irwin Mitchell had become the first major UK law firm to delay the start dates of its future trainee solicitors. IM’s August 2020 joiners will now start six months later in February 2021.

Squire Patton Boggs has warned that it may have to defer the start dates for its TC holders “if trainee workload reduces over the coming months”.

Secure your place: The UK Virtual Law Fair Series 2020

Turning back to DWF, the UK-headquartered listed law firm also revealed that its summer vacation scheme will move online in view of the virus disruption. It will run for one-week (instead of the usual two weeks) and will focus on working collaboratively while still providing opportunities to network and access to online social events.

The statement said that trainee recruitment for 2022 is not affected, although all assessments will be moved online.

In other DWF-related news, it was announced last week that Andrew Leaitherland had stepped down as DWF chief executive and managing partner with immediate effect. DWF’s chairman, Sir Nigel Knowles, has since assumed the role, as group chief executive officer.

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Disgruntled Applicant

The fact I can’t get a TC becomes ever more appealing!


Disgruntled Applicant

It is a real shame for DWF TC holders though.


Concerned future trainee

What will happened to Feb 21 joiners? Will they be pushed back or will there be one huge intake?



We have been told Feb 2021 joiners will be pushed back, potentially until Feb 2022 or Sept 2022.






Are you being paid for deferral?



if you mean for DWF they didn’t traditionally have two intakes a year.



“Squire Patton Boggs has warned that it may have to defer the start dates for its TC holders “if trainee workload reduces over the coming months”.”

Trainee workload is already at near zero. Some trainees are now in effect full-time business support staff, learning nothing. Many associates in the London office are currently flogging out hours upon hours on pointless BD, not recording any billable time.

This will not end well.


Vacs Scheme Offer Holder

I’m not worried, we are well placed to bounce back when things are back to normal. When you give as solid, commercial and accurate advice as we do, why would clients go elsewhere?


Bored Trainee

I am a trainee at a national firm and I have been working in the IT and HR departments for the last 2 months. Future trainees in the next 2 intakes will be doing the same, working in IT, HR and Business Support. No legal work at all.

Spent 3 years at law school and a 1 year LPC to answer calls to try and help people fix issues they are having with Microsoft Word.


Showround @ Bakers

Isn’t that what trainees at national firms do in normal times?


Concerned Charlie

That’s depressing as f*ck. Can you not complain to anyone, the graduate recruitment partner or head of HR?


greedy fee earner

What do the trainees expect though? The associates need to be fed work to justify their pay, currently already suffering from a cut. They won’t share any of it with the TC gimps.

As sad as it is, trainees are totally expendable once their time is up, and can be used as cheap labour for just about anything at the firm during the two years of their TC.


Journalism is Dead

Funny how LC won’t report on what’s going on at HSF and NRF


Hairy McClary from Donaldson's Dairy

Do tell



Take a look at what’s been posted in the DLA Piper article about it. LC probably getting a few brown envelopes for staying silent, can’t say I blame them


Aishah Hussain

Hi 10:32, what is going on at HSF and NRF? Email me:


TC holder

NQs apparently on trainee salaries for six months


Pulitzer Prize Committee

Great journalism Aishah ?


Admiral Ackbar

Don’t do it 10:32, it’s a trap!



What’s their address?



Hi Aishah – could you ask HL what their Spring retention rate was? Has been mysteriously unreported – couldn’t guess why….



Aishah, you must have missed Alex’s memo that HSF is paying LC for your event on Tuesday. Alex isn’t going to publish a negative story about one of LC’s clients.



I think we can all notice that Slaughters is not one of LC’s “featured recruiters” so they get all the negative press – whereas HSF, NRF and HL are “featured recruiters”. Do the math.


LL 4th seater

Add LL to the list.

Current 4th seaters aren’t being told what NQ pay will be until two weeks prior to qualification and are expected to sign NQ contracts without knowing pay.

At least the other firms are being transparent internally whether it will be cut (Slaughters) or frozen (HSF/NRF). LL don’t even have the decency to do this.


What a nice first world problem to have mate. LL will give you a job and pay you well in any event, who gives a flying f*ck about not knowing what the exact salary will be? Go smoke some dong.

LL 4th seater


Cut the “first world problem” rubbish. By your reasoning, we should all be celebrating because we don’t live below the poverty line or have to walk 20 miles barefoot to get clean water from a well.

Everyone gives a flying f*ck about salary – when have you ever seen an employment contract that does not tell you how much you are getting paid?
Not knowing the exact salary means not knowing if LL will “pay you well in any event” – you are assuming otherwise based on nothing. There’s every indication NQ pay will be cut or frozen on trainee salaries and then communicated at the last minute so that there’s no choice but to stay with the firm. Other firms are at least giving notice so trainees can plan accordingly.

Your argument suggests that it is a binary choice between having a job and not having one. For most of us, it is not – you would give a flying f*ck too if it transpired that NQ pay was being frozen at 50k and you were told two weeks before qualification.

mthrfckr rofllmao

I’m already pulling out my smallest violin for you mate, it’ll play a fine tune of not giving a flying f*ck about some two-bit LL trainee who can’t stomach the idea of being an NQ with a frozen salary.

Lol I hope you don’t get kept on, so you can figure out just how much choice there is in the legal market right now, especially for a dime-a-dozen NQ.


Seriously LL trainee thinks NQ salaries should be the only ones in the firm not to be frozen? exactly how special do you think you are?

Common sense

Give NRF and HSF a chance to dispell or explain these rumors. Simple.



How much were DWF trainees offered for the deferral ?


Fuck all

Fuck all


Thx bro

Thx bro


Crap Firm Police

Report HL retention rate and NRF.



Who cares, it’s a shit firm anyway, trust me you dodged a bullet.



Anyone has any insight as to MC (FF) future trainees ? Starting in Feb 21, w LPC this Aug, worried everything pushed back a year when I’ve alr signed a lease like an idiot



Such a toxic firm. Low morale throughout all ranks (even partners thanks to the ipo lock-in), up to their eyeballs in debt, perpetually low value high churn work so profit margins in single digits, and blowing cash on “law tech” r&d nonsense that clients couldn’t care less about.

Covid19 is just an excuse to back pedal in an effort to stall going under. I wouldn’t be surprised if next they start cancelling office leases, or at least reducing space, and forcing certain locations to permanently work from home with facilities staff made redundant. I wonder if these delayed trainees will have a firm to qualify into.



By the time the deferral period ends, my guess is that DWF will no longer exist. In fact, looking at today’s share price they may be lucky to last until tea time.


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