City firms use short-term NQ contracts to inflate retention rates

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  • Wow, I knew the HR people at law firms were among the most cynical in the world, but this takes the biscuit. Giving a young lawyer a few months as an associate then sacking them just so you can hide the truth about your inability to retain NQs is despicable. This is something the SRA needs to look into as it appears to be misleading the market, regulators and trainees who expect a real job, and is certainly against the spirit of the trainee system in this country.

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  • This has been going on for donkey's years.

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  • This is hardly new, or news. Firms have been doing this for ages.

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  • Good for the NQ too. It makes it look like they were kept on but wanted to go elsewhere.

    Win-Win (except for the people who compile the statistics).

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  • Perhaps these firms don't give two hoots about their retention stats and are trying to maintain flexibility, as stated, and also trying to give their former trainees a leg up and a bit of breathing room?

    I'd rather be given a 6 or 12 month contract with the option of looking elsewhere in that time rather than be cut loose.

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  • Revealed: bears **** in woods

    We all know this happens. What I think is far worse is when high ranking partners are about to be booted out, but instead go on the sick for years leaving the assistants and associates to slog out their guts to cover their inflated salaries.

    Please could the lawyer go and shame these bad people rather than nameless HR types.

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  • @Tim

    a fair point and a pragmatic one, but in which case surely these firms must explain in their NQ data that x-number of NQs are not actually going to continue to work at the firm. Or, even better, only state their trainee retention figure for the nominally 'permanent' positions, which gives law grads a more honest understanding of what fate awaits them when they gamble their careers on certain law firms. Either way, firms that fudge key public data do a disservice to all.

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  • Bumping 6-month PQE solicitors to accommodate qualifying trainees is akin to a council laying a new road, then ripping it up and doing the work again within 6 months simply to justify their allocated budget for the year. It's simply nonsensical from an economic perspective. If law firms were that concerned about flexibility, then they would move to change the blind system of recruiting trainees 2 years in advance.

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  • Public data?
    Firms are not required to publish their retention rates, and only do so for publicity purposes. You should not be surprised to learn that the figures are inflated in a variety of ways (temporary contracts, omitting data of trainees that leave part way through their contract or early to join another firm using time to count). Like any promotional material, these figures should be taken with a pinch of salt.

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  • @Anonymous | 11-Mar-2013 1:43 pm
    re. ..'data only for publicity purposes'
    Are you saying that it is OK then for law firms to be dishonest and hoodwink prospective law graduates? If I say something to you as a potential employer, it may well be for 'publicity', but it doesn't mean I can lie. Likewise, if I give out data to be published it has then become 'public' and I am accountable for its accuracy.

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