Allen & Overy kicks off spring retention season with 92% result

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34 out of 37 trainees kept on

Allen & Overy’s London office

Allen & Overy (A&O) has become the first law firm to reveal its spring 2021 trainee retention result.

Of the 37 trainees due to qualify in March this year, 36 applied for permanent newly qualified (NQ) solicitor positions at the firm. A&O made 34 offers, all of which were accepted, handing the magic circle firm a spring score of 92%. A spokesperson confirmed that none of the new associates will be on fixed-term contracts.

A&O, which offers about 85 training contracts each year, did not disclose the departments its new recruits will qualify into.

Today’s score is in line with the firm’s autumn 2020 result of 93% when the firm kept on 38 of 41 qualifying rookies. A&O retained 81%, or 30 out of 37 trainees, in the last spring round.

NQs can expect to earn £95,000, comprised of salary and sign-on bonus, after the firm increased salaries last year following a 10% COVID cut. This sizeable sum still falls short of the pre-COVID £100k package previously awarded by the firm.

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James Partridge, graduate recruitment partner at A&O, said:

“I’m really pleased we’re seeing such a high retention rate, which speaks not only to the calibre of the upcoming talent at the firm but also our continued commitment to investing in our future lawyers during the pandemic. I’d like to congratulate all those qualifying in March after what has been an extraordinary year and I look forward to seeing their careers continue to flourish.”

The rest of the elite fivesome, Clifford Chance, Freshfields, Linklaters and Slaughter and May, are expected to follow with their own spring trainee retention announcements in the coming weeks and months.

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Matthew B

I always wonder about the odd few who don’t get the NQ positions.

What went so wrong that they weren’t offered a spot?



Usually they are told early in the process that the team they want to qualify into can’t take them so they look for NQ positions elsewhere. Or they only apply for one team and don’t get an offer for that one team. If you’re flexible though you’re almost guaranteed to get an offer in something. Some banking and corporate departments will take anyone with a pulse.


Lewis J

I agree.

Some practice areas such as employment, competition, IP etc tend to have less NQ positions available whereas Corporate, Banking and to an extent Finance and Real Estate tend to have more spaces and can take more NQs on.

You have to be very strategic and somewhat competitive to qualify in the department you want, especially if it’s one with fewer spaces available.



Treat every co-trainee as your enemy. Each one that falls is a result. Like Fortnite. You can let them think you are their friend, but they are in the way and never forget that.

And watch for the weak that leave a year or two after qualifying. Their inadequacy is your opportunity.

Be strategic. Be merciless.


Harry K

I believe that junior lawyers are attracted to areas like employment, competition and so on because the working environment and lawyers in those offices tend to be a lot nicer and human compared to corporate/banking.

Also, I think a HUGE part of it is that you can be an employment lawyer at a US firm/MC firm and maintain a reasonable work/life balance, earlier leave time, more predictable work and hours because your department and type of work is not as demanding, BUT the best part is that you get the same level of pay.

This is where the disparities in pay gets really interesting.

The less demanding departments have better hours and friendlier work culture v corporate/banking – but both are paid the same.

Do you see why some areas have very few NQ spots available and others welcome everyone with open arms?



This isn’t quite true though: base comp will be the same, but your hours are likely to slack behind the Corp/Fin group, meaning that their bonuses will pack a lot more wadd as a result.

Nothing wrong about that of course, but a few years down the line they will be earning more, all-in.



I’ve said it before but I’d rather forego the £1k/month (max after tax) corporate bonus uplift on the already six figure salary and have a life outside work. the 9am-7/8pm that employment etc. work just about allows you a social life if you don’t mind coffee dependence and premature aging.

They squeeze a lot out of an associate for that extra bonus.



No offence but most of your comments don’t make any sense lol


Also, antitrust hours are NOT short. Our team (MC antitrust) are on average higher utilised than our M&A colleagues.

We are much friendlier than our corporate colleagues though …



I trained and qualified as a SC firm in Competition and the hours were quite short. Regular 7pm leave time and never had an all-nighter. Bare in mind though that Competition is one of the smaller departments at this firm whereas at a firm like say SandM it seems the opposite.

Depends on the firm really


If anyone is having trouble sleeping during lock down, Zoom an anti-trust lawyer. You will nod off in seconds.


I wish the retention figures were more transparent.

In most city firms, only a handful of trainees actually end up qualifying in a department/practice area of their choosing. Not everyone will get their first choice and most will end up taking whatever they can get for the sake of having an NQ position at the end of it.

The retention figures alone don’t tell you very much.



And nowadays firms keep some NQs on 6 month contracts then dump them after that period just to keep retention up.

The real interesting figure is how many trainees were retained and stuck around 12/18 months after qualification. If it’s anything like my cohort in a reasonably nice firm it’ll take the number down from around 84% to 60 something%


CMS Trainee

Decent numbers from a decent outfit





CMS Trainee

Yep, subbed to your sister’s OF 🙂



I do not understand the process they hand out 85 training contracts a year and only 37 are due to qualify . What happens to the other 48 trainees ?


Aishah Hussain

A&O, like many other law firms, has two trainee intakes each year (March/September), 12:50pm. So the remaining trainees will qualify in the next round.



I wish you all the best at the high street outfit you’re heading for


Ex A&O paralegal

Can confirm that a few A&O trainees did not last the first month of their TC in 2020 intake…



What does this mean?


Nice to see that 3 trainees came to their senses and jumped from the festering hive of mediocrity that is A&O.



Lmao, said like a true first year LLB betagimp. Haven’t you got a Zoom lecture to log into son?



A&O has a reputation for recruiting the dull and witless. This post goes some way to proving that true.



Based on that level of chat, ‘A&O 2PQE’ is much more likely ‘A&O Future Trainee’.

Or probably just went to an A&O open day in 2017 when he saw the FUSE presentation and has been gunning for the TC every app cycle since.

Don’t worry bud, it’s going to be your year this time!


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