Clifford Chance U-turn will see NQs announced before Christmas

Clifford Chance has reversed a decision to delay its announcement of newly qualified (NQ) lawyer appointments until January after concern from trainees forced management into a U-turn.

The firm will now confirm the outcome of NQ candidacies next Friday (21 December) after originally deferring the decision until January because the final month of 2012 was “very busy for us”.

But the change of plan sees the announcement return to the usual pre-Christmas slot and follows a crisis meeting for second-year trainees with senior London management last Wednesday (5 December) amid a backlash resulting from the original delay.

The NQ announcement was initially scheduled for 14 December but was put back until after Christmas so the firm could “give it appropriate partner time and attention” (4 December 2012).

There is understood to be tough competition for NQ places, especially in litigation, although this year’s applications round is said to be similar to previous years’.

The firm’s retention rate for September 2012 qualifiers was 77 per cent. A total of 50 second-year trainees out of 62 were offered NQ places, with 48 accepting them (24 July 2012).

The retention rate was 76 per cent last January, with 39 of 51 spring-qualifying trainees kept on (27 January 2012).

Meanwhile, the firm confirmed last week that it will be cutting its 2015 trainee intake from up to 120, the current intake level, to a maximum of 100.

Clifford Chance declined to comment.