Clifford Chance retains 40 of 56 spring qualifying trainees

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By Thomas Connelly on



Clifford Chance has become the third Magic Circle outfit to publish its spring 2024 retention score, with 40 of its 56 final-seat trainees committing their futures to the firm.

The hands CC, which recruits around 110 trainees each year, the highest number of any firm in the City, a retention score of 71%. This marks a slight dip of the firm’s autumn 2023 performance, which saw it retain 43 of its 55 qualifying trainees, or 78%.

CC confirmed it received 52 applications and made 44 offers, 40 of which were accepted.

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As with previous results, the firm player declined to provide details of the practice areas or offices the trainees will qualify into.

Fellow MC duo Allen & Overy and Freshfields have already gone public with their scores, posting results of 77% (30 out of 39) and 84% (32 out of 37).



This remains one of my biggest concerns with firms that have large trainee intakes, even the most “prestigious” ones. During market slowdowns, more trainees are at risk of not being retained. That said, Freshfields appears to be doing a decent job.


Freshfields keeping on 84% of trainees is not decent, its the bare minimum. If you have hired all these people the intention really should be to try and keep them all/at least offer jobs to all.

There is no other industry where its you can recruit people and within two years let go of 10% of them and receive praise.


Around 20-25% of analysts/associate consultants leave MBB within 2/2.5 years of joining.

Actual realist

They’re not asked to leave though are they? Awful whataboutery


Most private equity firms give associates a 2 and out offer. Essentially you only have a job for 2 years. There are occasional exceptions – if you’re lucky you may be given a VP spot. Lawyers have incredible job security.


Most (if not all) of the people who leave have offers at American firms.


Ouch. That’s a lot of people left to find jobs in quite possibly the quietest NQ market in years.

Kirkland NQ

Not true, I am currently looking for someone to pick up my dry cleaning, do coffee runs and open my Lambo door for me.


This is a really good example of why you should choose your firm based on your interests/capability and not intake sizes.

Some of these ‘retention’ issues are actually because trainees are interested in niche areas that have small departments at CC (I strongly assume, from experience, that’s what’s happened with the 4 who were offered but didn’t accept). If you’re joining a Firm that’s largest department is Global Financial Markets by miles, don’t be surprised if most of the qualification options are there and not in, for example, TMT where the team is much smaller with only 1 or 2 spaces available per year.

52 out of 56 applied though – can’t be as terrible place to work as LegalCheek comments imply about the MC, eh?


The NQ lateral market is dead, its no surprise people will try and stay on. 52 people applying doesnt really mean anything in this market – most are just trying to stay employed.


This sounds like someone with their head in the cloud – blaming the trainees as the problem. The fact is, people fought for a job in the biggest GFM departments.

march quali

A LOT of people are going to PW. They were recruiting without the requirement for a technical. Was an open door for about two months.


How many of these were retained on 1-year / 6-month contracts?

CC Trainee

Multiple on 6 month contracts, some qualifying into departments they didn’t even do a seat in during their TC just to get an offer, several qualifying into overseas offices… A worrying time to be a CC trainee. Departments like litigation taking 30+ trainees every 6 months then only offering 4 qualification spots each round.

CC Insider

This is bull – I’ve not heard of any trainees accepting roles in areas they didn’t do a seat in, and L&DR offer more than 4 places. What an odd thing to lie about.


What do you mean recruiting without a technical? What are you on about?


PW were recruiting associates without giving a technical interview. As I’m sure you are aware, there are often multiple interviews in the associate recruitment process, a technical interview being one of them. PW were not doing them for a period of time, presumably, as they were desperate to get people in the door after taking on however many partners.

Fresher Hunter

Spotted the fresher! Technical refers to the technical second stage interview – a typical part of NQ interview process. Don’t worry freshie you’ll learn all about it soon enough.

It's Okay to Ask Questions

Bro was literally asking what it meant. No need to shame someone for that


See when NQ market is dead it can be worry particularly those paying bills and rent…


The rising NQ cost means that only the strongest will survive. Several elite US firms are not publishing figures because the retention score is too low.

The salary war will continue but unfortunately the ones who will suffer the most are junior associates.


Can someone explain why salaries are continuing to rise if there are fewer roles/a market slowdown? TBF the last time I studied economics was A level but this doesn’t seem to stack up.

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