Trainee retention rates defy economic crisis

Trainees due to qualify in spring 2009 have been largely shielded from the recession, with retention rates holding steady at above 80 per cent.

Leading the charge are Slaughter and May and Norton Rose, which are keeping hold of 96 and 90 per cent of their spring ­qualifiers respectively. ­Norton Rose is followed closely by CMS Cameron McKenna, which boasts a retention rate of 89 per cent after offering jobs to 26 out of 29 trainees.

Camerons graduate recruitment partner Simon Pilcher said: “CMS worked hard to find positions for as many qualifiers as possible.”

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, the only magic ­circle firm so far to disclose retention rates, is holding on to 42 of its 49 qualifying trainees. This is down ­slightly from September 2008, when the retention rate was 91 per cent.

Ashurst and Herbert Smith also reported 86 per cent retention rates, while Baker & McKenzie is ­keeping 80 per cent of its newly qualified lawyers.

At 62.5 per cent, SJ Berwin has the lowest ­retention rate so far.

SJ Berwin partner Bryan Pickup said: “All of the five trainees who applied for newly qualified positions at the firm were offered places and have taken up those offers. The other three qualifiers, for various personal reasons, did not apply. We wish them all well in their future careers.

SJ Berwin continues its policy of recruiting 50 trainees per year, and seeking to retain all trainees on qualification, subject as always to matching trainees to departments.”

Simmons & Simmons was not for behind, with a retention rate of 66 per cent.

Mananging partner Mark Dawkins said: “Most ­practice areas only have a certain number of positions available for trainees to qualify into. We weren’t able to offer [everyone] places which suited both them and the firm.”