Eversheds asks trainees to defer and lays off 10 in real estate

Eversheds has announced that it is asking its forthcoming trainees to defer their start dates at the same time as making cuts in its real estate practice group.

David Gray

David Gray

The firm has offered 31 out of 73 of its September 2009 trainees £5,000 to defer entry or be employed as a paid paralegal for one year.

Eversheds chief executive David Gray said: “We realise that deferring trainee contracts could be unsettling for those affected.

“However, no firm has been immune to the difficult market conditions and whilst today’s news is regrettable we would ask our graduates to understand that we have had to act in the commercial interests of the firm as a whole in order to ensure that when they do arrive they’ll get the very best and busiest start to their careers.”

Eversheds is the latest in a line of firms to take this stance with Linklaters one of the most recent to do so. Last week the magic circle firm asked for around 15 volunteers to defer their start dates from September 2009 and March 2010 in a bid to “fine tune” its trainee intakes (http://l2b.thelawyer.com/linklaters-asks-trainees-to-wait/1000359.article 9 April).

Meanwhile, the national firm has also cancelled all its summer vacation schemes and closed its graduate recruitment programme until 2010. A message on its graduate recruitment website reads: “Linked to this [the deferrals] we have also made the difficult decision not to accept further applications for Training Contracts. We will be assessing our position in 2010 and will reopen our on-line application system accordingly.”

A student who was due to do a summer vacation scheme with Eversheds said: “Doing a vacation scheme with Eversheds wasn’t just about getting a training contract with the firm. It would’ve also helped me to gain valuable work experience and given me something to add to my CV. I’m therefore incredibly disappointed.”

The firm said in a statement: “We have made a number of offers for 2011 and 2012 and, as a result of deferring some 2009 Trainees for one year, will not be making further offers at this time. We are therefore cancelling this summer’s Graduate Vacation Scheme, as we felt it was inappropriate to invite people to spend time with us with no option of a Training Contract offer at the end of it. We will be taking this time to review and refresh our graduate programme toreflect the changes in the market and will reopen it again in 2010.”

Eversheds’ deferral comes as the firm cuts a total of 10 lawyers from its real estate team due to challenging economic conditions.

Gray said: “The real estate market has been particularly badly hit as a result of the current economic climate and whilst this news is disappointing, it’s right that we have acted to secure the long-term sustainable health of our real estate team, which remains one of the largest and strongest in Europe.”