Clifford Chance boosts NQ retention rate to 91 per cent

Clifford Chance’s has achieved a dramatic turnaround in the retention of newly qualified (NQ) solicitors, with the firm posting a spring qualifier retention rate of 91 per cent.

The magic circle firm confirmed that 52 out of the 57 trainees who are due to qualify in March. This is a significant boost from last spring’s result of 70 per cent, when the firm kept 44 out of 63 qualifiers, and from September 2010, when the retention rate was 79 per cent.

Magic circle rival Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has posted an 89 per cent retention rate after if offered jobs to 40 of its 45-strong cohort. This result shows a moderate increase from last spring, when the firm reported that it was retaining 80 per cent, holding on to 40 out of 50 NQs. Its spring 2011 figure is on par with its September 2010 retention rate.

Meanwhile, Herbert Smith has confirmed that almost 90 per cent of its NQs are being retained, with 43 out of 48 qualifiers gaining a permanent position at the firm. This also represents an increase on spring last year, when the firm’s retention rate was 79 per cent.

Ashurst has confirmed a 95 per cent retention rate after offering 21 out of 22 trainees permanent positions. This is a marked rise on last spring’s figure, when the rate was 67 per cent.

Elsewhere, Reed Smith has announced a retention rate of  94 per cent, holding onto 15 out of 16 NQs, and Berwin Leighton Paisner has revealed a 95 per cent rate, keeping 20 out of 21 newly qualifying trainees.

These results reveal a trend that suggest the prospects for NQs are looking up at the majority of firms.

Slaughter and May remains the top 10 firm with the best retention rate this year, posting a figure of 96 per cent. Allen & Overy has offered jobs to 87.5 per cent of its NQs while Norton Rose is keeping on 86 per cent.

Among the firms with less impressive retention are Hogan Lovells, which plans to keep on around 66 per cent of its spring qualifiers, and CMS Cameron McKenna, which is seeing 30 final seat trainees competing for just 19 jobs.