One of London’s oldest trainees has qualified six months ahead of schedule at Bird & Bird, after the City firm announced a 100 per cent retention rate.

The firm will be retaining all 16 trainees due to qualify in September this year, but 50-year-old Mary Smillie managed to complete her training contract in March after work experience was taken into account.

Smillie, who has qualified into the firm’s IP practice, said: “I’ve enjoyed my time at Bird & Bird and am thrilled to qualify into the seat I wanted. It’s great to see that everyone else has been kept.”

The former technical director for pharmaceutical company Teva said age can be a benefit to employers.

“I’m 50 but I still have a good number of years to give,” she said. “A lot of my younger colleagues are dreaming of partnership, but I’m not thinking about that because I really enjoy the job I do.”

The remaining 15 trainees will qualify into aviation, commercial, corporate, ­dispute resolution, employment and IP.