15 September

Stewarts is retaining four of its six qualifiers, three in commercial litigation and one in probate litigation.

12 September

Hogan Lovells has retained 17 of 19 trainees, or 89.5 per cent. It is the smallest cohort the firm has had in many years. Eighteen applied for roles, with 17 offers made.

Eversheds Sutherland saw 38 out of 48 trainees accepted roles as NQs in September, plus an additional two UK trainees qualified six months early with ‘time to count’ in March, resulting in an annual UK trainee retention rate of 80 per cent.

Herbert Smith Freehills‘ result of 27 of 29 trainees staying on means it has a retention of 93.1 per cent.

5 September

Trowers & Hamlins has achieved a retention score of 75 per cent, with 12 trainees out of a qualifying cohort of 16 staying on in NQ roles.

Of the 12, seven are based in London and three are in Exeter, while the firm’s Birmingham and Manchester offices have gained one NQ apiece. As for the teams within which the NQs have qualified, projects and construction has gained three and commercial litigation has gained two.  The following teams have gained one each: construction disputes, corporate, property litigation, banking and finance, planning and environmental, commercial and IP, and general counsel and risk.

DLA Piper had a total of 63 trainees within its qualifying cohort, 52 of which are staying on at the firm in NQ roles. This give DLA Piper a retention score of 82.5 per cent.

1 September

Simmons & Simmons had 18 trainees qualifying this autumn, with 15 of those receiving and accepting a permanent role at the firm. This meant the firm’s retention score was 83 per cent.

Over at Travers Smith, the firm had 20 trainees in its qualifying cohort, with 15 staying on (75 per cent). The majority (six) qualified into the corporate department, while three joined real estate and two in funds. Its other teams saw one qualifier join – they are disputes, employment, finance, and financial services and markets.

23 August

DWF‘s retention is 26 of 37, or 70 per cent. Meanwhile, Slaughter and May has retained 37 of 40.

14 August

Baker McKenzie jumps to the top of the table, keeping all of its 16 qualifiers.

Baker McKenzie’s London training principal, Stephen Ratcliffe, commented: “As Baker McKenzie looks ahead to the start of its next era of growth in London with its move to 280 Bishopsgate later this year, our 100 per cent retention rate for the autumn is a reflection of our commitment to retaining and developing the best talent. We’ve got another fantastic cohort of newly qualified lawyers joining our ranks across a range of practice areas and I am excited to see them continuing to thrive in their careers with us.”

The firm recently announced that it had increased its London NQ salary from £110,000 to £118,000, effective as of 1 July.

10 August

Linklaters has kept on 42 of 49 qualifiers, or 86 per cent.

4 August

Reed Smith has retained 62 per cent of its autumn trainee intake for 2023, handing NQ jobs to eight of 13 qualifiers.

1 August

Walker Morris keeps on 15 of 18 trainees, going into construction (three), corporate, commercial, employment (all two), infrastructure/energy, pensions, competition, IP, disputes, and sport.

And RPC retains 11 of 16 qualifiers. In London, one each go to the white collar crime, tax disputes and media teams. Two join commercial, technology and outsourcing while another two go to IP and technology. In the insurance department one joins professional/financial risks and the other property and casualty international.

In Bristol both NQs join the insurance group with one in construction and another in professional/financial risks.

Elsewhere, Watson Farley & Williams has retained 14 of 18 qualifiers, after 16 applied for positions.

31 July

Macfarlanes offered 25 of its 26 September qualifiers NQ positions. All accepted, giving the firm a 96% retention rate.

26 July

Clifford Chance had a qualifying cohort of 55 trainees – its largest since 2023 – and while 52 applied for newly-qualifed jobs only 43 were offered and accepted them, giving total retention of 78.2 per cent.

Meanwhile at Fieldfisher, 15 of 17 trainees will take up NQ positions, including both of those who came through the legal apprentice route.

25 July

CMS has kept on 46 trainees, plus one on a fixed-term contract, out of a total cohort of 60. Energy, projects and construction gets a particularly large portion of NQs in this retention round.

Meanwhile Boodle Hatfield has retained four of five qualifiers. Three will qualify into Private client/tax and one will qualify into Litigation.

12 July

Mills & Reeve has retained 20 of its 21 qualifiers for a 95 per cent retention rate. Seven qualify into the regulatory public and commercial disputes group, six into corporate and commercial, two each into real estate and employment/pensions, and one apiece into family, insurance and private client.

And Wedlake Bell is keeping on all six second-years in September, in corporate, tax, employment, residential property, construction and private client (arts and luxury).

11 July

Allen & Overy has kept on 37 of its 40 qualifiers (93 per cent), all on permanent contracts. Meanwhile Debevoise & Plimpton retains seven of nine, including one on a fixed-term contract.

6 July

White & Case is retaining 79 per cent of its qualifiers in September 2023 after 19 of 24 trainees were offered and accepted NQ positions. Two of the them will join the Abu Dhabi office. The firm has also amended its spring retention rate to 83 per cent after it recruited a further trainee on a permanent basis.

Bird & Bird records 83 per cent retention with 15 of 18 trainees retained on permanent contracts. As is usual for the firm, the bulk of NQs join the commercial (seven) and IP (six) teams, with employment and disputes each taking one.

5 July

Burges Salmon is keeping on 22 of its 26 qualifiers, including one on a fixed-term contract. A statement from the firm said: “As a result of COVID-19, opportunities to travel were limited at the time this cohort graduated from university. We hope that some of the trainees who are not taking up an NQ role this September will join us at a later date after a period of travel. We have recruited five external candidates to join our internal NQs and will be looking for more to fill additional roles across the firm.”

Elsewhere, Dentons has retained 23 of 32 trainees (plus two apprentices) as NQs. Seventeen will be based in London, one in Milton Keynes, and six in Scotland. They join banking/finance (seven), competition (one), corporate (4), energy, transport and Infrastructure (one), dispute resolution (three), real estate (two) TMT (three) and tax (two).

And Russell-Cooke will keep on six of 10 qualifiers this autumn. Two join the family team; the others go to real estate, construction, PI and clinical negligence. A firm spokesperson said: “We are delighted that once again our trainee cohort are qualifying into a wide range of practice areas.  This year is the first time our retention rate is below 100 per cent for the three years which covers the pandemic.  At Russell-Cooke we are committed to offering the best training and offering high levels of responsibility. This ensures that our trainees are ready for the world of qualification.”

3 July

Vinson & Elkins retains five of six qualifiers for retention of 83.3 per cent. Two join M&A/capital markets, two projects and energy and one litigation.

30 June

Mishcon de Reya keeps 24 of its 28 trainee qualifiers in permanent NQ roles. Nine will be litigators, four will go into corporate, three into real estate, two into private and one employment. The remaining five go to the firm’s innovation team.

29 June

Covington & Burling has kept all eight of its trainees. Two join the employment team; the remaining six go to finance, corporate, arbitration, life sciences regulatory, tax, and tech regulatory/competition.

28 June

Freshfields is first out of the blocks with its autumn trainee retention figures. The magic circle firm is keeping on 36 of 40 qualifiers as newly-qualified solicitors: as always, it refuses to reveal whether any are on fixed-term contracts.

Craig Montgomery, partner and training principal at Freshfields, said: “We are excited that many of our September qualifying intake will continue to develop their careers at Freshfields. Our trainees are all exceptional colleagues and have shown great talent and dedication throughout their training contracts. We are proud of our commitment to invest in future talent, of which our trainee associate programme is an important part. We look forward to watching this cohort’s careers develop in the years ahead.”

Spring 2023 trainee retention

21 March

Baker McKenzie is keeping on 13 of its 18 qualifiers, including one on a fixed-term contract. Two NQs each will join corporate finance, M&A, IP/technology and employment. The remaining five will go to competition, tax, disputes, capital markets and financial services regulatory.

15 March

Simmons & Simmons has revealed its results for the eight qualifying trainees it has: one withdrew from the process and six received and accepted an offer of a permanent role, giving overall retention of 75 per cent.

Elsewhere, Stephenson Harwood keeps in nine of 11: three in commercial litigation; four corporate; one in real estate and projects; and in marine. One of the NQs will be Dubai-based. “Investing in people across the business is a core priority of the firm, and these figures reflect our continued commitment to developing, and sustaining, a strong pipeline of talent,” said training partner Lisa Marks.

8 March

Browne Jacobson has retained five of six qualifiers on permanent contracts.

6 March

Addleshaw Goddard has retained eight of nine trainees. Two join the finance team with the remaining six going to corporate, construction, employment, global investigations and real estate.

Three each will be based in Leeds and London, with one in Manchester and the last in Dubai.

1 March

Birketts doesn’t normally have March qualifiers but six of its 21 second-year trainees are qualifying early, giving it a chance to bag a 100 per cent spring retention rate. The six join corporate (two), employment, banking, construction and planning (one each), with two qualifying in Cambridge and once each in Ipswich, London, Norwich and Chelmsford.

27 February

Hogan Lovells has kept on 19 of 20 trainees, including two on fixed-term contracts. Seven have joined litigation, arbitration and employment, another five have gone to corporate, four to regulatory, two to finance and one to IP, media and technology.

23 February

It’s 87 per cent retention at the last magic circle to reveal its results, Allen & Overy. Thirty-four of 39 final-seat trainees are staying, with 38 having applied for jobs and 37 being offered a position. All are on permanent contracts. Training principal James Partridge said: “I’m pleased to see a strong retention rate, which is testament to the calibre of this cohort and A&O’s continued investment in the lawyers who are the future of our firm. Congratulations to our latest group of qualifying solicitors.”

20 February

CMS will keep on 19 trainees on permanent contracts plus two on fixed-term ones, out of a total cohort of 28. Four will join the corporate practice while nine go to finance. Two will go to work in oil and gas, two more in technology and media, and another pair in litigation. Finally, construction and insurance will each gain one NQ.

The London office will be home to 19 of them, with two more being based in Bristol and Dubai.

Elsewhere Reed Smith revealed that 77 per cent (10 out of 13) qualifiers will be continuing their careers with the firm, while Fieldfisher is retaining 95 per cent (19 of 20, including one on a fixed-term contract).

15 February

Herbert Smith Freehills has retained 27 of 29 qualifiers, all on permanent contracts. All 29 applied, with 28 offers made.

13 February

Macfarlanes has matched Russell-Cooke’s result: it also has six of six qualifiers staying on. 

Jat Bains, the firm’s early legal careers partner, said: “Our trainees are the future of our firm, and we recruit, train and retain them with an eye to the long-term. We are confident that this cohort of talented lawyers will make a strong contribution and we look forward to seeing them reach their full potential.”

Elsewhere, Wedlake Bell is retaining five of seven trainees (an eighth is currently on maternity leave and will complete her training contract at a later date).

9 February

Russell-Cooke has retained all six of its qualifiers, who finished their training in January due to Covid deferrals.

Graduate recruitment partner Rebecca Fisher said: “Our 100 per cent retention rate is not limited to our latest cohort. We are very proud to have given a job offer to every NQ since (and including) September 2020. Sixteen NQs have been employed into 13 different departments in that time including real estate, insolvency, trust and estate disputes, corporate and commercial, children and education, and property litigation to name a few.  This demonstrates the unique and impressive range of opportunity available to trainees at RC.”

8 February

TLT is another firm that’s keeping all its qualifers: 11 in total. Four each will be based in Bristol and London (with tow who trained in Bristol relocating to the capital), plus three in Manchester.

Nine join the firm’s commercial services group, while one goes to real estate and the other to employment, pensions and  incentives.

6 February

Slaughter and May jumps to the top of the leaderboard, retaining all 47 of its qualifiers this spring.

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.