US firm Cadwalader Wikersham & Taft will not offer jobs to any of the trainee solicitors who are due to qualify into its London office next spring.
Three trainees have been affected by the move, which it is understood has been blamed on market conditions and the rapid expansion of Cadwalader's UK-based graduate recruitment programme.
The firm boosted its trainee intake from six to 10 during 2006-07 in line with other US firms. This number, however, is being slashed to six again for the 2010-11 recruitment round.
The firm, the fifth most profitable in Wall Street, is embroiled in a bitter power battle in New York as it braces itself for a 50 per cent profit crash following the demise of clients such as Lehman Brothers and the collapse of its key business (The Lawyer, 27 November).
Between 2006-08 Cadwalader had 18 trainees qualify into its London office of which 17 were retained.
Exclusive research by Lawyer 2B magazine showed that newly-qualified retention rates for September 2008 qualifiers nosedived at a number of leading law firms as worsening economic conditions hit the employment market. US firms, however, fared better with Bingham McCutchen, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Covington & Burling, Debevoise & Plimpton and Dewey & LeBeouf all boasting 100 per cent retention rates.