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DWF will maintain its recruitment of record numbers of trainees, stating that it will be capable of supporting around 46 trainees every year after 2013’s staggering revenue rises and significant mergers and acquisitions.
The North West firm had 46 qualifying trainees this autumn, an increase of 130 per cent from 20 in 2012. It kept just 70 per cent (32) of them as newly-qualified (NQ) solicitors; a much lower proportion than was historically the case (19 September 2013).
Between 2011 and 2008 DWF had between 15 and 19 trainees qualifying each year and in 2007 just nine trainees qualified. In six years the firm’s trainee intake has increased by 411 per cent.
Over the last five years, DWF has taken on between 16 and 17 trainees as NQs every year.
DWF graduate recruitment partner James Szerdy said: “The current intention is to maintain numbers. There has been a large and sudden increase in trainee numbers as a result of our merger and acquisition activity over the last 12 to 18 months with Biggart Baillie, Cobbetts, Buller Jeffries and Crutes.
“We do appreciate the fact that the 70 per cent is lower than previous years for DWF. In the current climate, and with the massive uptake in numbers, we think it is not too bad a performance.”
He added: “We are looking at, when the new intake arrive next week, having 100 trainees in the business. We feel confident that we will be able to support that number in the future.”
Managing partner and CEO Andrew Leaitherland added: “Following a year of incredible growth we have naturally seen a significant rise in the number of trainees within the firm and we are committed to maintaining this level moving forward. These numbers are in line with the size of business we now are and reflect our intentions to grow further and to achieve this we need to continue recruiting, retaining and developing the best quality people to support the best clients in our chosen markets.”
Szerdy pointed to DWF’s fledgling status in several key markets as one reason for it being able to support an increase in trainee intake.
He said: “There are certain areas we identify as being ripe for growth so that will support our trainees too. London is still a fairly nascent market for us. We have not been there that long and have been bolting on our services rather than going in as a full service firm but we are building it up and see it is a significant opportunity.”
DWF acquired the majority of failed firm Cobbetts in February this year (4 February 2013). Previously, DWF had taken over Newcastle’s Crutes in January 2012 (25 November 2011), merged with Buller Jeffries of Coventry three months later (2 April 2012) and acquired Scottish firm Biggart Baillie in July (7 June 2012).
DWF posted turnover of £188m at the close of 2012/13, an 84 per cent increase from £102m last year (6 June 2013). The firm broke through the £100m turnover barrier for the first time the previous year after posting a rise of 23 per cent to £102m for the 2011/12 financial year (1 June 2012).