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Herbert Smith Freehills offers future trainees £8,000 to defer TC start dates

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Six month delays

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has become the latest City law firm to delay the start dates of its future trainee solicitors in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

From a September 2020 intake of 28, HSF confirmed eight rookies will be deferred for six months. The firm — which has already implemented a number of financial measures in a bid to mitigate the financial impact of COVID-19 — is also seeking six month deferrals further down the recruitment line: 11 from its March 2021 intake and 14 from its September 2021 starters.

Deferred trainee solicitors-to-be will receive a payment of £8,000, HSF confirmed, and potentially a further £1,000 to put towards an educational programme which benefits their legal career, such as a language or coding course.

The delays appear to stem from the firm’s decision to suspend its international secondment programme globally for six months from this September, in anticipation of continued restrictions on international travel. In light of this decision, HSF will have more trainees than usual undertaking seats in its London HQ over the next year or so.

The firm — which takes on around 60 trainees each year — said it will accept applications for deferral on a first-come, first-served basis. It will select names randomly if it fails to receive a sufficient number of volunteers.

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A spokesperson for the firm said:

“Our people, including our trainees, are very important to us. This decision has not been taken lightly. We have only decided to take this step after careful consideration and as part of our wider prudent measures to keep our business resilient and protect our people in it.”

HSF isn’t the first law firm to take such action. Last week, Legal Cheek revealed future trainees at DLA Piper were being offered up to £10,000 to voluntarily put back their start dates by a year. Elsewhere, DWF and Irwin Mitchell have both delayed the start dates of its next UK trainee cohorts by six month in light of the pandemic.

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