Revealed: A&O takes biggest hit as magic circle squanders £10m on lost trainees

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  • Not sure about all this, isn't the point of hiring lots of trainees these days primarily in order to provide the firm with plenty of (relatively) cheap labour? If they were all kept on after 2 years the firm would have far too many low level associates that cost far more than trainees, but whose fee earning potential would not be that great in some cases. Of course, I could be wrong and this is all about finding talent, not about working cheaper labour for maximum profit.

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  • That is a truly lightweight piece of analysis! Just a comment on trainee retention with some relatively spurious costs thrown in!

    At the same time as firms are trying to be more scientific in setting their recruitment targets they are also being hit with other trends. Not least of which is that none of the big firms really need trainees any more. Or at least not to deliver legal work, which can mostly be done by someone else for less, or by technology, or not done at all, and is likely not to be particularly profitable anyway (and/or it's so miserably awful that the trainees don't want to do it anyway). So they're mainly doing it to protect their cultures and ethos. Thank goodness.

    Anyway, a substantial number of current recruits won't want what big law offers in the long run and perhaps those firms are sick of training lawyers for other people.

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  • Actually, Anon, that is a common talent management tactic emerging at many corporates and consulting firms - called a "first bounce" approach. If they are going to leave anyway, why not take the benefit of hiring them as newly qualifieds. Of course that doesn't work long term, it is a free rider issue, so most firms know they need to keep investing.

    Agree with most of the comments made, but there is a valid point, in that firms should be seeking to optimise the investment made in trainees. It does miss the point that there is an optimum number to retain - no hiring process gets everything right, so an 80% hit rate and retaining the best could well be a great outcome.

    I wonder to what extent does this analysis factor in the incoming trainees from other firms as newly qualified. Sure, many leave the profession, but you can bet A&O picked up a few from Slaughters and vice versa. It is only the net loss that is the issue.

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  • These figures are rather vague. The true cost per trainee seems to be based only on salary + law school maintenance fees. Once you add in law school fees and the costs to run the HR teams that recruit and train the trainees, plus the budgets those departments have for events/training etc, and also consider the employer tax contributions etc - these figures are clearly out.

    Although the "loss" may also be debatable depending on the billing to clients, it is estimated it takes until about 3 years PQE to get a return on the investment of a trainee.

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  • The harsh reality of the situation is some trainees are just not good enough, factored in to the equation is the moving goal posts when firms in good times are more likely to retain.

    I always worry when recruiting a traineee, who claims they bill a high amount, that they have been used as sweat equity, and have not really learnt a lot as the high billing is due to the commoditised nature of the task perfomed.

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