Mayer Brown and Akin Gump announce autumn trainee retention results

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70% and 83%

The London offices of US firms Mayer Brown and Akin Gump have announced their autumn 2020 trainee retention results.

Mayer Brown has retained 70% of its September-qualifying cohort. Seven out of ten of newly qualified (NQ) solicitors will stay on at the firm, with one retained in the firm’s employment practice on a fixed-term contract. This hands the firm an autumn retention score of 70%, or 60%, depending on how you interpret its figures.

Mayer Brown was not in a position to offer everyone a permanent role in the practice of their choice, a spokesperson said.

Three of the six permanent hires join its litigation and dispute resolution team, with one each in corporate and securities, employment and intellectual property.

“Our retention record reflects our ability to attract and retain the very best talent, and we are delighted that six of our qualifiers have accepted a permanent role at the firm,” said Stuart Pickford, training principal at Mayer Brown, continuing:

“We always aim to match the needs of the business with the first choice of our trainees; however, we accept that this is not always possible. Congratulations to our 2020 autumn qualifiers, who have thrived over the past two years and I wish those pursuing opportunities outside the firm every success.”

In the last autumn round the firm kept nine of its 11 qualifying trainees, or 82%, on permanent deals. It retained four out of five (80%) spring qualifiers earlier this year.

Legal Cheek’s Firms Most List shows that Mayer Brown’s new recruits will start on a salary of £90,000 — an approximate 77% jump on year two pay which is £51,000. First years at the firm earn £46,000.

The 2020 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

Meanwhile, Akin Gump has recorded an autumn retention result of 83%. Of the six final-seat trainees due to qualify next month, five will stay on in NQ positions at the firm. None are being retained on fixed-term contracts.

Two NQs will join the firm’s investments funds practice, with corporate finance, international trade and tax, receiving one new qualifier each. The class of 2020 will be London-based bar one rookie who is qualifying in Dubai.

Vance Chapman, partner and London training principal, said: “Akin Gump is delighted to welcome an exceptional group of newly qualified solicitors into the firm this year.”

He continued:

“We are very pleased to have been able to retain nearly all our trainees on qualification since the start of the Akin Gump trainee programme in 2014. We look forward to welcoming our diverse and high calibre class of 2020 and are proud as always to have supported them through the early stages of their career in the law.”

Akin Gump new associates can expect to earn a market-topping £150,000 ($190,000) upon qualification, after the firm confirmed that it has “no plans” to make changes to its UK salary scale in spite of the economic headwinds brought on by the coronavirus. That’s around a mighty 172% uplift on year two pay which sits at £55,000 (also unchanged). Other MoneyLaw outfits have adopted a similar approach.

A number of law firms have announced their autumn retention results in the past months.

Fellow US firms Covington & Burling, Jones Day, Ropes & Gray and Sidley Austin have all posted pandemic-proof scores of 100%. Their City cohorts tend to be much smaller than their UK-headquartered rivals’ and the biggest of the bunch, Jones Day, is taking on all 20 NQs.

Earlier this week Baker McKenzie posted a score of 82%, keeping 14 of its 17 soon-to-be associates.

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Alfred Hitchcock

Phwoarrrr some phat whacc being paid over at the ‘gump



Real alpha firm.



Akin Gump, more like Akin, I’ve Got a Pump


Journalism is Dead

Does every single firm retention rate, salary deduction etc require a separate article?

This could quite easily be updated onto a 2020 section on the Legal Cheek ‘most list’.



What I don’t understand is why the odd trainee is being retained on a fixed-term contract but the others are not.



Often because the teams aren’t confident about business pipeline.

Equally firms sometimes aren’t confident about the trainee and want the option to sever ties in the near future if their concerns materialise.



Writing articles on every single firms retention rate is lazy journalism until they actually break down what that retention figure means.

I’ve noticed that none of the articles actually reveal why the number of trainees were kept on and why those who weren’t offered NQ spots were let go.

Was it down to hiring bad trainees in the first place? Did they decide a career in law was not for them? Has the department they applied to already filled the positions?




Unfortunately this is just how it goes. Even during the training contract the others trainees are very secretive about where they want to qualify and what seats they are planning on choosing. It’s all “ohh I’m not sure yet I’m just going with the flow hehe” whilst they’re hard balling grad rec and smoozing the partners to secure themselves an NQ position at the firm.

You might say isn’t that why all trainees should do… well it gets frustrating when trainees start kissing up to the partners in the offices that they’re not even doing seats in and deliberately trying to one-up you in the team you’re doing a seat in.

The NQ retention is also a secret for that reason because the trainees who aren’t kept on are embarrassed and don’t want to admit why they were not offered a spot. It’s usually because they were thrown under the bus or couldn’t keep up with the office politics



Sometimes you have to play the game bro.



There is a difference between playing the game and being an insufferable trainee who is hated amongst their trainee peers



I can just imagine you were the biggest twat in your cohort… there’s always one



Cool story sis, changed my life.

John M

Those who have completed their training contracts or are currently doing it… can anyone confirm this or has any horror TC stories?



The 2 years is all about strategy and game playing.


Former trainee with PTSD

This is, sadly I should add, right on the money. Fellow trainees can turn out to be total lying vermin, intentionally trying to throw you off with inventing fables about “really considering this seat, it sounds so interesting” and “no clue what I want to qualify into yet, keeping an open mind lol”.

In reality, they’ll be popping off coffee invites in partners’ Outlook calendars left right and centre, and making sure that Grad Rec knows this as well. Sure, it only goes so far and it does require the trainee in question to be good enough to pass muster, but most usually do.

TL;DR: Do not believe a word they say and always try to think a few steps ahead. It’s trench warfare out there, and it’ll only get worse for the March 2021 qualifiers and beyond, when Covid and Brexit are gonna spitroast every trainee in the City into submission. Good luck and stay smart.



This is often why the the white middle class oxbridge / privately educated trainees perform better in their TCs than anyone else… they have been trained all their life to secretly get to the top whilst throwing others under the bus. It’s all about subtle manipulation and having a stiff English upper lip



I agree with your sentiment, but Oxbridge has nothing to do with it. You will find the game playing posh type more with degrees from Bristol, Durham, Edinburgh, St Andrews, Exeter, Newcastle and York. Those are the hot spots. We need to stop speaking about Oxbridge as if it is the 1980s still.


I experienced this during vac scheme… I didn’t think it could get any worse wow :/

Scared about starting my TC next month now



Don’t worry too much.

Just show an interest/enthusiasm, get stuck in, and once you identify an area you like then make it clear to the partners of that team you will be interested in applying as an NQ. It doesn’t need to become a game. The energy that it would take to become embroiled in games, trickery and the like is not worth it. You can play it with a straight bat and do well.



Don’t be disheartened by these comments. Without a doubt there will always be unpleasant trainees who try to stand on others to get ahead. But people who make decisions aren’t stupid and in my experience people see through trainees trying to play those games.

If you’re not a nice person people notice, you’re more likely to get ahead just working hard and being keen.


Old hand

If you are good enough, you will get taken on. I have been in the London legal market since 2008 (what a time to start!) and in all that time I have never once seen someone not get taken on who I thought met the standard. Over a large enough sample size, it would be surprising if 100% got taken on, as the chances of choosing everyone correctly through grad recruitment is obviously not high. Yet anything less than 100% appears to be regarded as a failure. Some people are not good enough.



This is an idiotic post. Often popular practice areas will only offer eight spaces altogether, and nine excellent trainees will apply. The trainee that doesn’t get it could easily have walked into less popular practice areas but they haven’t actually sat there so are left with no choice but to leave even in a pandemic.

Are you a fresher mate?

Bombay Bad Boy

I think the benefits of schmoozing are sometimes overstated. A combination of insecurity and over-eagerness causes many trainees to act like this but the most important thing remains being good at your job. If you’re very good, you will then find that partners/assocs are the ones trying to get you to return to their department. Having said that, it would certainly be a mistake for a trainee to take at face value what their peers tell them about their qualification intentions. Don’t assume you have no competition but equally, don’t act like your peers are enemies to be deceived and defeated.



Sensible advice.


Tom foolery

This is clearly the same guy responding to himself loool

Chris J

Being a good trainee simply isn’t enough to guarantee you an NQ spot nowadays unfortunately. A couple of the best trainees (in terms of just the work itself) in my intake weren’t offered an NQ position whereas some questionable trainees did. My friends at other firms also said the same thing for their intakes.


Bombay Bad Boy

Obviously being good at the work isn’t the only thing that matters and there are always perverse decisions that are made. However, I do think it’s fair to say that, of all factors that influence qualification decisions, being good at your job is the most important. The schmoozing aspect is more influential when it comes to seat selection IMO. Of course, that does have a knock-in effect for qualification and no doubt the benefits of schmoozing will vary across firms.


You clearly don’t know what you’re talking about. But then again you don’t have to worry when you’re a diversity hire who is guaranteed a spot to boost the firm stats and make the brand look more representative


T dawg

“Mayer Brown was not in a position to offer everyone a permanent role in the practice of their choice, a spokesperson said.”


Flossie Beatrice Clegg

A recession has officially been confirmed but LC would rather write entire articles waffling around retention figures.

Maybe it would be useful to write about how the recession will affect employability in the legal sector and focus the retention rates/salary deduction articles around that.



It’s fast forward to February 18th 2021…

Legal Cheek are still writing articles on the retention rate from the 2020 cycle. They are now on their 112th firm and still have 50+ to go.

Efficiency is key.



That is a shame about Mayer Brown. I rate their lawyers and the quality of work they produce.



The devil works hard but grad rec and HR work harder.



I am a trainee and currently having some difficulties working from home.

I am not sure if it is just the time of year, but I am getting loads and loads of spiders in my flat right now. Due to the weather I need to keep my windows open, and I think the little critters are creeping their way in whilst I am not looking. I am actually really frightened of them and on a couple of occasions I have screamed out during conference calls when I saw them getting close to me. How do I even handle this?

Don’t even get me started on the moths in the evening. Undead butterflies they are.



Cool story brah, changed my life.



I don’t care about your life. I care about my spider and moth problem. Could you please try and be a bit more productive?



You need to create fear. If the spiders and moths fear you, then they stay away. What scares them? Nudity. Both spiders and moths fear the human in nude form. It really is that simple.


Tolstoy's bicycle

Hello JD Partner, how nice of you to join us today.

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