NQ retention rates for spring 2010 hold up well

Robert Byk

Allen & Overy (A&O) was the first magic circle firm to confirm its newly qualified (NQ) retention rates for March 2010, with the firm holding on to 83 per cent of trainees who applied for positions upon qualification. That equates to 55 out of 66.

If the three trainees who dropped out of the qualification process are included, A&O’s retention rate is slightly healthier at 87 per cent.

A&O managed to keep on more NQs than expected after it warned trainee ­solicitors last year that it would only be keeping around 70 per cent of its March 2010 qualifiers.
But 83 per cent is still a far cry from spring 2009’s results, when A&O boasted a 91 per cent retention rate, with 51 out of 57 trainees being offered positions.

Slaughter and May, meanwhile, confirmed an 87.5 per cent retention rate for March 2010 qualifiers, offering 21 out of 24 trainees jobs with the firm. In March 2009 it retained a healthier 96 per cent.

Slaughters graduate recruitment partner Robert Byk said: “Percentage-wise our figure was slightly ­higher last year, but given the size of the intake there’s not a significant change.

“In terms of the retention, after the interview process, GDL, LPC and two years of training, it’s our aim to retain our trainees as they’re the backbone of the firm for the future.”

Elsewhere, Herbert Smith has managed a 79 per cent retention rate, with 26 out of 33 trainees being offered jobs. This is down slightly on March 2009, when it achieved an 86 per cent retention rate.

Herbert Smith’s trainees ­qualified into corporate, employment, finance, international, litigation and real estate.

The first firm to reveal its March retention rates was Baker & McKenzie, which has offered jobs to 93 per cent of its trainees, keeping on 14 out of 15. The result beats the firm’s March 2009 NQ retention rate, which was 80 per cent.

Bakers partner and trainee principal Monica Kurnatowska said: “We invest heavily in recruiting strong trainees and in providing training and development to help them reach their full potential. Our priority is always to retain the best talent and these numbers reflect this.”

The NQs will be joining Bakers’ banking, corporate, competition, dispute ­resolution, employment, IP, IT and pensions departments.

Advocates for international development

Although the legal recruitment market remains tough, for those who are not retained London charity Advocates For International Development (A4ID) offers an alternative.
The charity has started a scheme called the Newly Qualified Lawyer’s Programme, which offers NQs the opportunity to work with disadvantaged communities across the developing world.
Each placement is designed to fit within qualification leave and is tailored to suit NQ skills.

Through the programme participants work on a variety of important initiatives, such as groundbreaking legislation, promoting international best practice, comparative analysis, research and advocacy.

A spokesman for the charity said: “Participants are able to share their skills with those in need in the developing world while enhancing their own expertise through working in new and challenging environments.”

Alice Gartland, who qualified at Linklaters, spent her placement producing a report on the Companies Act in India that resulted in changes to legislation relating to corporate accountability.

She said: “The experience has emphasised the importance of clear communication and the challenges of communicating across different cultures. Overall I feel more confident about my abilities to work independently and to get a job done in somewhat challenging circumstances.”

More than 27 firms and chambers are involved in A4ID, including Allen & Overy, Herbert Smith, White & Case, Erskine Chambers and Fountain Court.