Orrick has offered all of its qualifying trainees fixed-term contracts as it mulls its Covid-19 options.

The US firm has six qualifying trainees fixed-term contracts until the end of December and has deferred decisions on permanent retention until later in the year

It has also deferred its trainees due to start this autumn until January 2021.

Trainees and NQs have been included in Orrick’s voluntary pay reduction scheme in London and a spokesperson for the firm said there were currently “no further plans to make changes in salaries.” The Lawyer reported last April that Orrick had put in place a salary reduction scheme for associates in the UK that is voluntary and refers to those who have already received their 2020 promotions and salary hikes.

Under local regulations, lawyers can accept a reduction that goes from 10 per cent for senior associates to 2 per cent for junior ones. Those who contribute most will be considered for a special award that serves to compensate for the reduction. The firm said it plans no further changes to salaries.

The scheme was part of a wider set of reductions that the US firm has made worldwide, including deep and undisclosed cuts to partners, counsels and executives. The firm said it does not plan to furlough staff or to make redundancies.

Although it is early in the retention results season fixed-term contracts are already a feature, with Mills & Reeve and Sidley Austin using them for one trainee each.

RPC, meanwhile, has retained 11 of 12 September qualifiers – none on fixed-term contracts. Nine are based in London and two in the firm’s Bristol office. Five trainees will be joining the insurance practice (two in construction and three in professional and financial risks), with two going to commercial and banking litigation and another two joining the IP/technology team. The final two will joing the commercial, technology and outsourcing team and the media team respectively.

RPC  training principal Simon Hart said: “We have always tried to make our qualification decisions based on the longer-term view of the needs of the business. That was very much the case this year. We have a very strong group of trainees qualifying in September and it is testament to their quality and commitment over the last two years that every single one of the 11 trainees who applied was offered and accepted a permanent role with the firm.”

Autumn 2020 retention so far Trainees retained Fixed-term contract Trainees left Total number of qualifiers Percentage retained
Sidley Austin 10 1 0 11 100.0*
Orrick 0 6 0 6 100.0*
RPC 11 0 1 12 91.7
Travers Smith 17 0 2 19 89.5
Mills & Reeve 15 1 2 18 88.9*
CMS 44 0 17 61 72.1