A&O and HSF post spring trainee retention rates

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By Thomas Connelly on


77% and 97%

Allen & Overy (A&O) and Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) have gone public with their trainee retention rates for the spring 2024 season.

A&O will retain 30 of its 39 trainees due to qualify this March, handing the Magic Circle player a score of 77%. Thirty-six final seat rookies applied for NQ roles, and the firm made 33 offers. None are on fixed term deals.

This will likely be the firm’s final retention score before it merges with US outfit Shearman & Sterling later this year.

The 2024 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

James Partridge, early careers recruitment partner and training principal, commented:

“We’re delighted that so many of our trainees have decided to remain at A&O, and further their careers at this exciting time for the firm as we merge with Shearman & Sterling to become A&O Shearman. We continue to invest in and develop our people, and this retention rate reflects the strength of our people pipeline. Congratulations to our latest cohort of qualifying solicitors.”

Meanwhile, HSF has posted a retention rate of 97% with 29 of its 30 spring qualifiers staying put. Like A&O, none of soon-to-be associates are on fixed term contracts.

David Rosen, partner and training principal, said:

“Continuing to maintain a high retention rate in what remains a competitive environment is no easy task, so I am delighted to see this trend continue. We remain committed to recruiting the best talent and building a solid career path for them and these latest figures are testament to our ability to deliver on that promise.”

The Legal Cheek Firms Most List 2024 shows A&O recruits around 80 trainees each year, while HSF takes on 65. Starting salaries currently sit at £125,000 and £120,000, respectively.



I’m biased but HSF might be one of the best all-round law firms. If this was Goldilocks and the three bears, it might be in the middle haha


I’m also biased, but I totally agree.

Discounting US firms – pay is near top of the market but not the highest, hours can be long but also not the highest, the people are nice, the office (mostly) looks great, the work is generally interesting and high quality, and it has a great reputation and will open as many doors as most other firms if you did want to exit.

Like any firm, there are bad apples but these seem to be relatively few. Commercial law can be challenging at any firm, and the grass isn’t always greener. Other firms can offer a better deal in any one or two of the above areas (except for the people being nice – my colleagues are the friendliest group I’ve met in commercial law firms), but as an overall package I think I have a great deal and I don’t think I would be happier at a different firm for the time being.


The PEOPLE are nice? The OFFICE looks (mostly) “great”?! Must be a windup.

I do agree it looks fairly good on my CV but that’s about all I can say for it.


Found the HSF future trainee


NRF’s retention rate was 95%.


Lool NRF plsss

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