Spring 2023 trainee retention so far

3 February

RWK Goodman is keeping on one of its two March qualifiers, but additionally four of the nine trainees who are due to qualify in September are using time to count and qualifying now, giving total retention of five out of six (83 per cent).

Three will qualify into the London office in clinical negligence, corporate and dispute resolution teams, one will join residential property in Bath and the last will be an Oxford-based employment lawyer.

24 January

Trowers & Hamlins is keeping on eight of its nine qualifiers, joining the banking, construction disputes, commercial and projects departments.

Six qualifiers will be based in the firm’s London office, with two in Birmingham and Manchester. Training Principal Lucy James said: “Congratulations to our latest cohort of newly qualified solicitors. We thank them all for their hard work and endeavours throughout their training contacts and we look forward to watching them develop further as they enter the next stages of their legal careers.”

20 January

Clifford Chance‘s retention rate has slumped to 69 per cent, with 29 of 42 qualifying trainees staying on at the firm in NQ roles. Thirty-eight applied for jobs and 36 were offered them. The firm never provides further comment but that looks like there were a lot of people offered positions outside their favoured departments. Our sources say there weren’t many positions in the disputes group available.

One should never set much store by one-off results, but Clifford Chance’s retention stats have been noticeably mediocre in three of the last four rounds now.

19 January

DWF is keeping 26 out of 36 qualifiers on permanent contracts, a retention rate of 72 per cent.

Twelve qualifiers will join the firm’s commercial, regulatory and data teams, four will go to employment and pensions, three to finance and restructuring, and another three to corporate. The final four will enter the disputes, tax, real estate and major industry groups.

Meanwhile, Ashurst‘s result is the same as its autumn 2022 one: 16 of 19 trainees stay, all on permanent contracts. Training partner Ruth Buchanan said: “Congratulations to our latest cohort of qualifying lawyers – we are delighted to welcome such a talented group to the team. As a firm, we are committed to the growth and development of our people, and look forward to supporting them as they continue on their journey to become the leaders and trusted advisers of tomorrow.”

17 January

Linklaters has one of the largest spring intakes and it is a good result for 2023 with 49 of 52 retained, including one on a fixed-term contract.


13 January

It’s 18 out of 23 staying on at White & Case, with one on a fixed-term contract. That equates to retention of 78 per cent. Three trainees are joining the firm’s offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

6 January

The word on the street is that the jobs market for this spring is going to be depressed, with many recruiters sounding notes of caution. Hamish Drake, senior director and head of the associate team at Montresor Legal, for example says that March 2023 is looking less promising for NQs wanting to lateral or be retained than the round last September. “Demand significantly dropped off around October time with some US firms pulling most of their scheduled March ’23 interviews. More recently this has fed through to trainee retention where some firms have offered March qualifiers 12-month fixed-term contracts and in one silver circle firm’s case no places in banking, FS regulation or commercial.”

“Despite all of this,” he says, “there are some green shoots with pockets of March NQ hiring within disputes, corporate PE, investment funds and FS regulation. It will be interesting to see how firms approach the September ’23 market which would ordinarily commence soon and continue over the months ahead.”

5 January

Freshfields has become the first firm to reveal its trainee retention rate for spring 2023.

The magic circle outfit has offered jobs to 33 of its 34 qualifiers, with all accepting, a 97 per cent retention rate. As usual, it did not disclose if any were retained on fixed-term contracts.

Training partner Craig Montgomery said: “We are delighted to see such a positive acceptance rate, with nearly all of our spring qualifying intake continuing to build their careers at Freshfields. We congratulate them on coming to the end of their training contracts, and the dedication and talent shown throughout.

“Investing in the next generation of leaders at Freshfields is a strategic priority for the firm, as is embedding a culture in which they can thrive and feel a sense of belonging. We continue to focus on providing excellent learning, training and development opportunities, as well as meaningful long-term careers and first rate client service. The best firms to work for are those that are forward thinking around diversity and inclusion and wellbeing and that define what it means to work at the organisation, in terms of purpose and a shared set of values.”

Freshfields’ trainee retention has improved noticeably as its cohort size has diminished from over 40 to the mid-30s in the last few years.