'Healthy' year for trainee jobs

'TOP UK firms have reported healthy numbers of qualifying solicitors being retained after their articles this September.

A survey of the country's top 10 firms shows a strong level of retention among qualifying solicitors, indicating an increased workload and improved confidence among major practitioners.

Firms contacted report that an average of only two trainees per firm will not be kept on when they qualify next month.

Each firm will keep an average of 37 qualifying solicitors from an average 39 trainees.

Leading the recruitment drive is number one firm Clifford Chance which will keep 62 of its 65 trainees. Number four firm Freshfields is shedding none of its 42 trainees.

The good retention rates have been taken as further proof of post-recession improvements in demand and as a sign recruitment levels may increase next year.

Dibb Lupton Broomhead recruitment partner Alex Holtum said in past years the recession had damaged the ability of some firms to hold on to their qualifying solicitors.

“In the last two to three years there was a significant drop in the number retained. My impression is that is improving,” he said.

Holtum said Dibbs had held its retention rate close to 95 per cent in recent years and expected this to continue.

Clifford Chance recruitment partner Chris Perrin said his firm's retention rate had also stayed around 95 per cent.

“I think it reflects the fact that the larger firms are pretty busy,” he said.

He added that demand for qualifying solicitors is highest in the corporate, property and securities areas.

Simmons & Simmons partner in charge of trainees William Dawson said retention rates in the top firms were definitely improving in line with business.

“There's definitely an increasing volume of work,” he said. “It is certainly quite an encouraging sign for those wanting to come into the profession and work in the City.”

He said all present indicators pointed to further increases in recruitment by top firms.

Full details of the number of qualifying solicitors kept on by the top 10 firms are: Clifford Chance 62 out of 65; Eversheds eight out of 10; Linklaters & Paines 54 out of 57; Freshfields 42 out of 42; Lovell White Durrant at least 29 of 33; Allen & Overy 45 out of 47; Slaughter and May 52 out of 53; Simmons & Simmons 24 out of 26; Dibb Lupton Broomhead 22 out of 25; Herbert Smith 33 out of 33.

The figures do not include trainees who left firms of their own accord and not all offers of places have been accepted.