Clifford Chance posts 69% spring retention result

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29 out of 42

Clifford Chance’s London office

Magic Circle law firm Clifford Chance has published a spring trainee retention score of 69%.

From a qualifying cohort of 42, CC confirmed 29 were staying on in permanent roles. The firm, which is the UK’s largest trainee solicitor recruiter with around 110 TCs annually, received 38 applications and made 36 offers.

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

The 2023 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

The Legal Cheek Firms Most List 2023 shows CC’s latest recruits will start on a base salary of £125,000. Trainees receive £50,000 in year one and £55,000 in year two.

Last year the firm revealed that the number of TC applications they receive had shot up by 52% since 2018.

Fellow MC duo Linklaters and Freshfields have already gone public with their spring figures, recording results of (94%) and (97%) respectively.

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Future trainee










V surprising as I had assumed US NQ recruitment was rather quiet and from my CC cohort that’s where everyone went






Someone from CC post the tea? What happened?
Not offered first/second choice seats/left to US firms?



And that’s what you call a retention shocker..


Bonus Paterfamilias

Well that isn’t good.


Future trainee

This is terrible! I wonder what the trainees reasons are…


First Seat Trainee

More pay for the same hours at a US firm…


Tears of laughter

But but but I thought the Links retention scores meant the magic circle were all fine and better at not making stealth firings like those bad bad US firms…



They made offers to 95% of those who applied for associate roles so it’s not from the CC side. Clearly several didn’t bother applying (usually leaving on qualification) and several others turned down the offers. Would be good to understand why.



Can confirm the firm wanted to keep people, just lots of people decided to go to US firms for the $$$ instead.

We had to hire lots of NQs.



This isn’t true, we are not mass hiring NQs at the moment. A select few went to US firms and several of those were not offered their first choice here.



Ooft – 36 offers and only 29 acceptances!



Not bad for an east London firm



Why are the juicy pieces (salary and retention rates) always put out on Friday afternoon, when the Legal Cheek team goes away for the weekend and doesn’t moderate comments?



Why fixate on good numbers? Not all trainees want, or are good enough, to stay…

Ultimately, who actually cares?


CC Leaver

The firm has deluded themselves into thinking ambitious NQs will stay at CC.

Why turn down £50,000 more, for similar hours?

After spending tens of thousands training people, this retention rate is extremely disappointing.



Hehe, nice


Legally Blind

Picture this – you are a CC trainee approacing NQ… asking, do you stay?

You would think of the years of working (and working, and working…) ahead of you, brute-forcing your way through the hordes and engaging in what is best described as spelunking into platonesque political caverns, most of them humid from the contsant expulsion of hot gas, which if inhaled in substantial quantities is known to cause confusion, subjugation and/or indoctrination – and god forbid you forget your ThinkPad!

Then the expectation to be billing a not insubstantial amount hours all the way through; taking your banker clients out for dinner weekly to keep the matter numbers ticking up. In the round, working 85-95% as much as their US-firm counterparts, for two-thirds as much.

Flash forwad – a decade spent in pursuit of sweet, sweet equity, major life events missed, second marriage on the horizon (after this first one finds a decent lawyer)… and you finally get the pat on the shoulder.

Overjoyed, you read the partnership documents in full… well, to the same degree you’ve read through every 400 page SFA you’ve ever closed (skipping the boring bits).

You read… nothing to note… except maybe one thing is missing… You keep reading to see those golden words, the most crucial element… the reason you came this far, sacrificed so much, it’s not there, you look under benefits… compensation… it’s not there…?

“… WHAT ABOUT MY RESERVED PARKING SPACE!? MY DESTINTY, MY NIRVANA? THEY SEEK TO DENY ME MY BLOOD RIGHT!” You cry out, followed by an involuntary whimpering. You are now having a panic attack. Your entire emotional and physical being deflates – you lose control of your bowels.

Your junior, who knows enough already (seriously, stop taking all your calls on loudspeaker), freezes momentarily in his seat, he bolts out the office – sprints to the toilets. He’s kneeled in a cubicle, grasping the bowl and violently throwing up.

The stench on it’s own could not begat such a reaction, self-defecation being a common employed CC tactic – vomitting still, the junior’s other hand frantically prodding at his phone screen, updating his LinkedIn status to “OPEN TO OFFERS” –

It’s over… your dream is shattered – all of it, in pieces, everywhere (don’t worry too much, cleaners will come in at 3am and clean around you whilst you run comments on an Albanian law pledge over a flock of geese (following the required LMA standard form))… When you get to your sleeping pod, you lie down – and sob quietly as you look up the NCP annual parking charges permit charges…


It’s the present day, you haven’t qualified yet… it was all a dream, a vision of a life that could have been yours – you apply for an NQ role at a US firm.



Quality, high-effort shitpost. Respect.



My secretary at CC has a parking space in the underground car park



Dolce Dolce

CC produce the best NQ in the City and it’s therefore not surprising that their NQs are popular amongst US firms (c.f. Links or A&O)



Lol, ok.


CC Insider

This is true – our trainees get targeted just months after starting their TC sometimes, which nearly 2 years until they qualify! It’s madness given no guarantee they’ll actually be any good.


Links Trainee

This is not unique to CC.



It would be a little strange to argue only CC trainees were interested in the positions with US firms and Links et al were just all happy to stay for less basic salary and bonus but the same target hours of CC. Why do you think more of CC moving? Could it perhaps have anything to do with success at interview?


MC ass

The culture at CC is considerably worse than at Linklaters. A lot more shouting and unpleasantness. Anyone suggesting there’s any noticeable difference in quality between NQs from any MC firm is just outing themselves as a fresher.

Not Kirkland NQ

CC need to decide between either more money or less hours. People aren’t going to stay when they can get an extra 3k a month for the same work and same hours elsewhere.



What are the cushty practice areas to qualify? How is funds work like?


Reality cheque

Print room and catering. You get to manage loads of printing (or coffees) and the work is generally brainless and the hours are great.


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