DWF has come under fire for delaying its list of available job opportunities for soon-to-be newly-qualified (NQ) solicitors.

Second-year trainees at DWF are understood to have confronted the firm on multiple occasions over the release of its NQ jobs list, claiming a delay in publication meant they are losing out on career opportunities.

Earlier this year, the trainee cohort was told to expect a job list between the end of March and mid-April, though it was postponed further following the departure of CEO Andrew Leaitherland in late May.

The firm eventually released the list just last week, with 25 job vacancies posted for 37 trainees. Around 60 per cent of the roles available are in insurance and litigation.

Sources have claimed that the firm delayed the release of the list, despite multiple prompts, including a request to escalate the matter to the board.

Trainees are believed to have put in in bi-weekly calls to the firm’s human resources department to obtain a clarification. A source told The Lawyer: “From DWF there was radio silence the whole time.”

In addition to the delay, it is understood that the trainees expressed discontent with a penalty clause in their contracts should they find employment elsewhere.

The clause states that DWF would be able to recoup some – if not all – of the LPC fees it paid if a trainee did not remain at the firm as a solicitor for 24 months after qualification. HR is believed to have said orally that the clause could be waived if trainees accepted an external role before the release of the jobs list, yet the waiver was not put in writing.

Last week The Lawyer reported on an initiative launched by DWF to pair up final-seat trainees with partners who qualified during the last recession to help them navigate the current jobs market. However, it has now been claimed this is only available to solicitors in London.

A spokesperson for DWF said: “DWF has published 25 newly qualified (NQ) job vacancies for trainees due to qualify this September. All 37 of the trainees have been informed, but due to the difficulties presented by COVID-19, we pushed back the publishing of the NQ job list in order to evaluate the business needs and what we could offer.

“We have always maintained open and honest communication with the trainees throughout the process. The emerging talent team and training principal have had regular calls with all second-year trainees since the start of the pandemic, as well as 121 sessions, which provided them with an opportunity to ask any questions and share information.

“Nationally DWF has additionally been supporting trainees with mentoring and 121 sessions with partners. The trainees have also been offered sessions with DWF’s recruitment team which focus on the application process, CV building and interview skills.

“We thank all of our trainees for their hard work over the past two years; they have been a real asset to DWF. We look forward to watching the bright and promising futures of our qualifying trainees.”