The trainee solicitors of today are the future of any firm. This should be the starting point for the development of every trainee. At Clifford Chance approximately 95 per cent of trainees stay on as solicitors. With this starting point a firm will be acting contrary to the interests of the firm and its clients if the training were to be anything other than first class.
We work hard to try to make the Legal Practice Course (LPC) a stimulating experience, balancing legal and practical training. This explains why Clifford Chance, together with a consortium of other City firms, has worked with the Nottingham, BPP and Oxford law schools to create a City LPC.
Contrary to some media comment, this City LPC is not designed to limit the trainee solicitors' training, but to extend it. The core subjects will be left untouched; but through the electives the trainees will be stimulated and acquire additional training directly relevant for their careers in City firms.
On completing the LPC, trainees join the firm in two intakes – September and March each year. Each will consist of approximately 60 trainees. Those trainees will spend their first week together at the firm on an induction course. This teaches them what the firm is all about and how to make the most of it. Each individual area in the firm then has a focused induction course for the trainees joining it.
No decision is taken at the beginning as to where the trainee will spend his or her four seats. They are asked only to indicate their first choice of first seat and every effort is made to give them that choice.
The remainder of a trainee's seats are chosen as they go along, based on a particular trainee's interests and strengths. Many of the trainees will wish to spend time overseas. Approximately 75 per cent will do so. The aim is to give the trainee a mix of experiences.
This is with a view to maximising the chances of the trainee finding an area to qualify into which fits their skills and aptitude best.
The overall focus must always be to seek to ensure that a trainee wants to stay with the firm on qualification and will be best equipped to work as a high quality lawyer on qualification (albeit still of course being trained over the years to come). With this as the focus, many of the training needs become quite obvious.
Simon Davis is a graduate recruitment and litigation partner at Clifford Chance.