100% spring trainee retention score for Macfarlanes

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All six stay on

Macfarlanes’ London office

Macfarlanes will retain all six trainees due to qualify next month, giving the firm a 100% retention score for spring 2023.

The newly qualified (NQ) solicitors all join on permanent contracts and will see their salaries more than double from when they started as trainees at the firm two years ago, from £50,000 to £107,500.

Macfarlanes did not disclose the departments the NQs will join upon qualification.

Jat Bains, early legal careers partner at Macfarlanes, commented:

“Our trainees are the future of our firm, and we recruit, train and retain them with an eye to the long term. We are confident that this cohort of talented lawyers will make a strong contribution and we look forward to seeing them reach their full potential.”

Macfarlanes regularly retains the majority, if not all, of its qualifying trainees. The firm provides 33 training contracts every year, with the majority of its intake qualifying in the autumn.

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Catherine Morgan-Guest, early legal careers senior manager at Macfarlanes, added: “Congratulations to our March qualifiers. Macfarlanes has a reputation for quality and our training programme is no exception — our commitment to developing our trainees is woven into every aspect of life at the firm.”

In our latest Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey the outfit scored an A* for training and As for partner approachability, eco-friendliness, and peer support.

Macfarlanes is now the third Silver Circle law firm to reveal its spring retention score. Travers Smith and Ashurst have already announced scores of 75% (6 out of 8) and 84% (16 out of 19) respectively.

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Decent firm by the looks of it.



It’s remarkable how easily the freshers on this site reveal themselves. In reading comments like these, I find myself increasingly sympathetic towards graduate recruitment.



CC is crying 🤣



CC could care less. There will always be thousands of naive freshers applying there


You must be American

*couldn’t care less



The problem is that, whilst trainees are very useful for process-driven work, they can’t actually do deal execution (except in very limited circumstances). So if significant numbers leave post-qualification, you end up with lots of people who can prepare pro forma directors resolutions and/or keep track of local counsel responses, but not enough people to actually do the substantive legal work that clients are paying for.

The obvious solution to that is to then bring in laterals to plug the gaps, but because of the vagaries of the grad rec system the “best” future lawyers will tend to want to train at name-brand firms like CC (and the training at those firms tends to be excellent), meaning the laterals will generally not be that good. Which leaves firms like CC in a very unenviable position where they hire a bunch of outstanding future lawyers, train them up well, and then watch most of them leave from qualification to about 4PQE, and then replacing them with people who didn’t benefit from such good training in the first place and probably wouldn’t have been accepted for a TC at CC if they’d applied in the first place.


Sorry but we see this a lot

So… If they could care less… That means they do care a lot?

The phrase is “couldn’t care less” – think about it.



Or, to remove the full conditionality of the phrase, replace it with “don’t care”.

Writing in the active voice is preferable some of the time all of the time.



What? Who used passive voice? What conditionality?

Do you have any idea what you’re talking about?


Silver circle (Ashurst, Macs- not Travers they’re currently suffering a mass exodus) should all match HSF at 120k. Would be amazing money, great work, and some semblance of work life balance. MC would soon see a shift away from them



What’s the consensus on Hogan Lovells?


fresher alert

shutup fresher.



Why is everyone leaving Travers? What’s the story??


TS Lawyer

A couple of partners left for better money and now recruiters are calling other partners non stop. Some have obviously entertained these calls.


Travers Exit Interviewer

People are discovering that they won’t get shot in a drive by if they leave the Travers cult.

People are realising that they can meet their future partners / spouses oitside of the Travers canteen.

People are realising that the Bishops Finger and the Hand & Sheers are awful pubs and places to spend your free time.

That’s some common reasons.



Yeah but HSF are only luring you in with a higher NQ salary. You’re only on £140k as a senior associate at HSF.



PQE salary levels are banded. Some SAs will be on £140k, some could be less, but many will be on more as the upper band limits for each SA PQE level are materially higher



Is HSF the best all round law firm when considering salary, work life balance, practice areas, training etc?



For me Macfarlanes would be up there. Slightly lower NQ salary but:

Highest PEP of all UK firms reflecting its elite status
Only 1 overseas offices so you don’t feel like you’re working for McDonalds as is the case with so-called global law firms
Unrivalled high end corporate and private equity work
Private client work separates it from the magic circle, you have the chance to act for some really interesting and powerful HNW individuals
Very traditional culture, where hierarchy is respected and formality is appreciated


Pls dries, thx

I’d work at the real McDonalds for this kind of salary but I appreciate the brave attempt to frame 1 overseas office as a positive


Fresher Alert

Unrivalled high-end corporate/PE…

Good Sir Tom, have you heard of US firms?


Regional Hack

Oh Tom, Tom, Tom. Where to begin.

Macs has the second highest PEP of major UK headquartered firms. Slaughters is far higher.

The McDonalds trope was coined to describe the branding of certain firms (Bakers, DLA et al), not the experience of working there. I’m not sure what “so-called global firms” even means. Are these not global firms in your assessment?

Macs is very good in corporate/M&A and private equity. “Unrivalled” is an absurd claim though.

Spinning a private client offering and tradition as some kind of winning formula is frankly weird. These are, at best, subjectively nice to have.



For me Macs would be up there as well but you gave all the wrong reasons. It is an excellent firm overall with some really strong practice areas (though far from unrivalled). Despite its elitist reputation, people are mostly nice and, most importantly, I do not know any firms where I could work less but earn more (in the long term that is, not the odd exception of someone joining Akin at a chill period and feeling like a winner for 6 months).



PEP is, in practice, pretty irrelevant to most trainees and associates. You might mention it on the application form, to show you’ve done your basic research.

But bragging about equity you’re not even entitled to receive (and which is carefully divvied up between a handful of partners to keep the numbers high) is a weird and pitiable flex.

Firms don’t care about your feelings or your unsolicited free advertising BTL. But hey, this is Legal Cheek after all!



HSF work/life balance is an oxymoron.


Ex-HSF slave

Can confirm. Total sweatshop, and woe be you if you ever complain about it.



Wonder how the partners at Travers feel about this…oh wait all the partners have quit..


Curious fresher

For macs having an intake of 6 and keeping all on, how does this compare to retention at firms eg Paul Hastings, V&E, Debevoise with other small intakes?


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