Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has taken the decision to defer a number of the people due to begin training contracts at the firm in September 2020.

Eight out of 28 future trainees will have their start dates pushed back by six months, with the firm paying them £8,000 to do so, with a further £1,000 potentially available should they wish to take a course relevant to their legal career.

The firm is also deferring 11 and 14 members of its March and September 2021 intakes respectively.

Deferrals of trainees were a common feature of the last recession, and HSF’s offer matches the one that it made to future trainees in the summer of 2009.

HSF will accept applications for deferral on a first-come, first-served basis. It will select names randomly if we do not receive sufficient numbers of voluntary deferrals.

In a statement, the firm said: “Our people, including our trainees, are very important to us. This decision has not been taken lightly. We have only decided to take this step after careful consideration and as part of our wider prudent measures to keep our business resilient and protect our people in it.”

Additionally, the firm has suspended overseas secondments for six months, meaning more trainees than usual will be working in London anyway.

HSF’s moves follows that of DLA Piper, where future starters have been offered up to £10,000 to defer for 12 months, while DWF and Irwin Mitchell have also deferred their trainees for six months.