Clifford Chance will retain 40 of its 56 final-seat trainees in newly-qualified (NQ) roles this spring, giving it trainee retention of 71 per cent.

While 52 trainees applied for roles only 44 were offered positions, with 40 accepting, hinting at a situation where not enough jobs in favoured departments were on offer, although the firm makes no comment on its results beyond the numbers.

It is the fourth retention round out of five in which retention at the magic circle firm has been below the industry average of 80 per cent.

Some firms have kept on as many trainees as usual. Freshfields has retained 31 of 37 qualifiers (84 per cent), while Herbert Smith Freehills leads the pack so far, keeping all but one of its 30 qualifiers (96.7 per cent).

However, Allen & Overy has only kept on 30 of 39 (76.9 per cent). Meanwhile there are rumours that BCLP is set to keep on fewer than half its qualifiers.