Clifford Chance and Slaughters confirm autumn retention scores of 70% and 82%

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All on permanent deals

Clifford Chance and Slaughter and May have posted autumn trainee retention scores of 70% and 82%.

From a qualifying cohort of 53, CC confirmed 37 were staying on in permanent roles. The firm, which provides around 95 training contracts each year, received 47 applications and made 42 offers.

As always, the firm did not provide details of the practice areas or offices the trainees will qualify into.

The Legal Cheek Firms Most List shows CC’s latest recruits will start on a recently improved base salary of £100,000. Trainees receive £48,000 in year one and £54,000 in year two.

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Today’s result is down on the firm’s spring score which saw it retain 38 of its 43 final seat trainees — or 88%.

Meanwhile, Slaughter and May confirmed it will retain 37 of its 45 trainees (or 82%) due to qualify next month. Forty-three chose to go through the application process, 42 received an offer and 37 accepted their offer.

Like CC, the firm’s newly qualified (NQ) lawyers will start life on an improved salary of £100k.

As for the rest of the magic circle, Allen & Overy and Freshfields recently posted outcomes of 88% (36 out of 41) and 81% (34 out of 42), and Linklaters recorded an impressive score of 94% — or 45 out of 48.

The 2021 Legal Cheek Firms Most List


takes me back to 2016




Sorry, maybe I am missing something. Isn’t this figure shockingly low? The market is exploding right now, my guess is simply that the remaining trainees jumped to US firms who pay more?

Please tell me this is the case… Otherwise I see no reason for leaving one of the most elite firms in the world. Really hope those trainees have secured positions elsewhere!



It’s not one of the most elite firms in the world. No firm which takes on so many trainees can be elite.


Clearing team

good luck on Clearing at the elite London South Bank University with CDD



To my knowledge, none of the 8 departing SM trainees are jumping ship to US firms. Funny how everyone on this website assumes that departures must always be looking for more money rather than pursuing other passions or a better work-life balance.


SM Trainee

8 people leaving is certainly news to the trainees. We were only aware of 7…



Most elite in the world? Not even close.



“One of the…”. As lawyers, the devil is in the detail! 😉

And, yes, it is indeed. All rankings show and confirm that it is. It sits at the top end of the MC (most elite in the UK) and probably good top 15 worldwide, given that UK/US are the only two major global legal markets.



Depends what those rankings are based on. It seems strange to think that an “elite” senior associate would only be making as much as any 24-year-old who just qualified at a US firm.

The fact that a company is “elite” doesn’t really mean anything for trainees who are deciding whether they want to stay or go. Cashiers at Walmart work for the largest company by revenue in the world. Doesn’t mean it’s a good job.



What does count as elite though? The LegalCheek demographic seem to think that money is the be all and end all for eliteness. But if that’s the case, you are classing Vinson & Elkins as the most elite law firm in the city. Which is a nonsense.

Some of the US firms pay top money but certainly aren’t “elite”. Likewise some firms are elite for specific areas but not others (think HSF for litigation).

Most firms have strengths and weaknesses and its ridiculous to suggest it is only based on money.

Real response

Mostly, yep.



Any reason for such a low score??

I thought their marketing alone would foster a sense of loyalty to CC that would last their entire career..


Ad Revenue is King

Surprised LC didn’t try and cram in the firms’ diversity stats into the article. Alongside NQ pay rise news they love a story about diversity.



Possible reasons for low retention:

– Some have decided corporate law isn’t for them. The long hours and isolation during the pandemic changed their perspective.

– Some are jumping ship to US firms given the recent Covid bonuses and NQ salary rises. If you’re going to put in the hours, might as well get paid for it as they say.

– Some can’t find team/department that’ll take them on and don’t want to qualify in a “subpar area”.



This was posted previously in relation to Slaughters on the A&O / FF article – someone claiming to be a trainee said it was accurate:

“Interestingly I don’t think any of those leaving are going to rival / US firms but just doing a complete career shift: one to the Army, a couple in-house, one doing an MPhil, one switching to human rights / asylum. Everyone who applied got an offer except one.”



The amount of trainees that move to US firms on qualification is surprisingly low. More established US firms (trainee intakes of ~10+) have now established pretty decent training programs. If you’re a firm like Latham or Shearman you don’t really need to look elsewhere unless you have to. Obviously changes further down PQE as people move about more and holes need to be filled.

Think about it, if each large U.K. firm was bleeding about 10 trainees a year to US firms, it wouldn’t add up. Nowhere near enough spaces for them.



US firms have generally been looking for Associates 3-5 years PQE recently anyway, that can run with less supervision than an NQ. As an NQ it can be hard to lateral to a US firm given the responsibilities expected and lean deal teams.



Just by way of perspective, as someone who works at a very similar firm to the two you mentioned; we actually struggle very much to attract good talent from UK firms. Almost all of the junior associates we’ve recruited in my department laterally are from what might uncharitably be called second-tier firms (good Scottish and regional firms, middling City firms, a handful from Australian and South African firms), with basically nobody from the MC. And it’s not from lack of trying either; MC associates simply don’t want to work at places like us for the most part, and those who do tend to pick offers from the ridiculously high-paying shops (Vinson, Milbank etc.), presumably on the basis that if they’re going to be slaughtered they might as well be paid as much as they can. Legal Cheek commenters like to imagine there’s some mass exodus of lawyers from the MC to US firms post-qualification, but it just doesn’t happen; if anything most people leaving the MC end up in-house.



There are at least a couple of CC trainees moving to US firms on qualification.



Some at Dentons too



CC should report on the number of people offered their first choice qualification too, it would be shockingly low (around 40%).


Freshfields trainee

Almost thought Freshfields was on the decline with the low retention rate but after this it seems they are still the best MC



Only 2 of the 8 that didn’t get retained by FBD didn’t get an offer. The other 6 either went to other firms or are leaving law altogether.


Fresher phatman

Did they go to US firms?



The facade of the MC firms offering an easier ride than their US rivals is ever more apparent.

Just a matter of time before the graduate market truly wakes up to this fact.



How’s the contract revision going pal?



Did anybody say simp? Simping about at simp firms?

The magic is well and truly gone. Get on the money train, get to the US firms. Mediocrity is DEAD!




Thx fresher, back to revising for your retakes you go. 🤡



I’ll have you know I am a senior associate


All aboard the clownmobile

Lmao cool story bro 🤡🤡🤡



Pretty low for Slaughters, where it’s usually high 90s (and was for my intake). Thanks to home working, I don’t really know who these trainees are, so in terms of where they’re going, your guess is as good as mine.



What these recent flurry of stats don’t also reflect is the numbers that qualified in the last few qualification rounds whilst (i) there was a Brexit hangover or (ii) we were in the height of covid lockdowns, and have now jumped to firms which on hiring sprees like K&E, Goodwin, etc or a wider range of practice areas.

There should be a measure of attrition rate for each of the cohorts and the points at which this happens.


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