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White & Case retains 18 out of 23 spring qualifying trainees

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One on fixed-term deal

Global law firm White & Case will keep 18 of its 23 London trainees who are due to qualify in March.

With one new recruit on a fixed-term deal, this hands White & Case a UK retention score of 78% or 74% depending on your reading of the numbers.

The new recruits qualify into practice areas including capital markets, commercial litigation, financial restructuring and insolvency, international arbitration, mergers & acquisitions and project development and finance.

Three trainees are joining the firm’s offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, “reflecting the global importance of English law expertise at White & Case”.

The 2023 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

Those qualifying into London will start on a salary of £140,000, up from a year two trainee rate of £57,000. The Legal Cheek Firms Most List 2023 shows the firm offers around 50 training contracts each year.

“Our industry-leading, comprehensive training programme and highly competitive salary and benefits package have been attracting talented and ambitious trainee lawyers to White & Case for a quarter of a century,” said partner Inigo Esteve, who leads the firm’s trainee solicitor programme in London. “The scheme continues to prepare our trainees for exciting careers advising leading global clients on their most important, complex, cross-border matters.”

Last year the firm recorded an overall retention rate of 83% and have averaged a score of 81% since 2018.

Freshfields kicked off this latest retention round earlier this month with an impressive score of 97%.

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22 Comments

University of knowledge tutor

Well this isn’t good

W&C FTS

£140,000 is great, but not quite market leading.

Increasing to £165,000+, as has been done by rival firms recently, would certainly up retention figures.

I feel like the firm will go this way very soon, but better to act fast and stamp authority on the legal market.

Stingy Peterson

Bonus system needs a rehaul as well – c.10% is embarrassing for US

cool beans

I’ve always been confused by what to make of retention rates. Can’t tell if people are leaving because they are unhappy with the firm, because the firm won’t let them stay, or because they’ve found jobs with better firms.

Future trainee

Fully agree! That’s why I find retention rates useless now that I’m deeper in the profession. When you find out that some firms make it contractual for trainees to stay for a certain period after qualifying that’s when I knew these rates were pointless.

You’re better off speaking to trainees privately and find out what you want to know

Another Future Trainee

genuinely curious – how do firms do this, do they amend the TC to extend the contract, and so the NQ “qualifies” with the firm, if only staying on for another X months?

Insider

W&C is a seriously good firm. Friendly culture and certainly not a sweat shop.

Duckling

Do we know if the other 5 were offered jobs but chose to go elsewhere? Eg they disliked the firm or their team.

Or were they not welcome to stay upon qualification?

Bf

How, that’s a 78% retention rate. Way more than half

City

And consigning them to the professional graveyard which is the Middle East.

Curious Cat

Genuine question but why is the Middle East seen as a professional graveyard? (I’m a law grad working as a paralegal in a US firm – so forgive my ignore).

Also, are places like Jersey/Guernsey/BVI/Cayman seen in the same way?

Thanks all

Thad

Also curious about this

Anonymous

It’s a myth that the Gulf is a professional graveyard – for certain specialisms (projects and energy are the obvious ones, but there’s a lot of M&A work there driven by the sovereign wealth funds) it’s in some ways *the* place to be. There are some extremely bright and talented lawyers in the UAE (I’ve worked with CC, W&C and K&S over there and have been impressed in each case), and many of them have no struggle finding good positions if they want to return back to the UK.

On the other hand: (1) some firms definitely do have a lower calibre of lawyers in their MENA offices, often caused by partners in semi-exile looking for a quiet life in the sun; (2) some practice areas are not at all relevant to the region, and it would be a career cul de sac for practitioners in those areas (tax, regulation, antitrust, financing); (3) clients tend not to be very sophisticated, and many are not very fussed about quality drafting, so lawyers can fall into a rut of being used to absurdly friendly terms being accepted by opposing counsel whose clients simply don’t care.

Plus the elephant in the room – in going to the Gulf you’re consigning yourself to live in a claustrophobically small expat bubble on the fringes of a fairly nasty theocracy, and leaving all your friends and family behind. Suits some, but it’s certainly not for everyone

Curious Dog

I’m contemplating a move offshore and also very curious about this. Can anyone shed some light if moving offshore is also seen as a “professional graveyard”?

Coroner

Yes

City

Offshore jurisdictions are where you go when you have failed onshore.

Anon

Cayman and BVI are the absolute pits. Nobody wakes up in the morning and says, “I have a decent shot at partnership or Silk in a few years. I know, I will give it all up and head offshore to be a post box for onshore lawyers.”

Offshore is where you go when your career hasn’t worked out.

Honest

Offshore isn’t a career. It’s a parody or imitation of a career.

Jen

I remember what the partner in charge of trainees said to us at the very start of our training contract at my MC firm: “If things don’t work out, you can always head to Cayman”.

I obviously didn’t know why he said that, as I was so junior. But it soon became clear to me that he was right when I started working on Cayman and BVI cases. For a start, the offshore lawyers were plainly second rate, washed up people who were not good enough to succeed onshore. The quality of their drafting and analysis was very poor to the limited extent that they undertook any. Plus, they acted as mere postboxes for us and counsel. All the major drafting, and all the strategy and advocacy, was devised and undertaken by us. We put together the team and directed everything. The offshore people just filed what we sent them. When it came to court hearings, they just sat at the very back, behind counsel and us, taking notes. Nobody, not even the lay client, paid them any attention.

In short, there is no dignity whatsoever to a career as an offshore lawyer. Prestige matters. Nobody wants to have to admit to their kids that they ended up in Cayman as an “attorney”. It is the mark of failure.

Curious Dog

Thank you all for the points and specially you Jen for the thorough explanation. I realise it may be useful to explain myself a little bit more.

I qualify this year in Scotland and my thought process is to go to Jersey ( to the likes of Carey Olsen or Mourant) – spend 1-2 years getting some Corp experience working with high end clients/law firms and then make the move back onshore (London).

I seemly see Jersey as a “stepping stone” before entering the London jungle.

Plus the work life balance and low tax rate doesn’t seem bad at all…

As always any comments are appreciated

Honest

Offshore (whether Jersey or elsewhere) isn’t a way into London. The London firms will view you as second rate and someone who spent 2 years as a post box. You would not have access to the clients, as they belong to the onshore, instructing law firm. And the onshore law firms working with you will not pay any real attention to you at all. So the experience will be a waste of time in professional terms. This advice is all the more relevant because you are starting off with a weak CV. The London market will already look down on you as a Scottish-qualified solicitor. You might – might – be able to get a role in a second or third tier London firm (although the English provinces are a better bet) as you currently stand, but with the stigma of time spent in an offshore jurisdiction, you can forget it.

Bar

Only go offshore if you don’t mind being looked down on by the rest of the legal profession.

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