Sidley Austin is keeping all 11 of its trainee qualifiers this September as newly-qualified (NQ) solicitors.

Ten of the 11 are staying on full-time, while one is on a fixed-term contract for six months.

Four of the NQs will join Sidley’s M&A and private equity divisions, two will go to banking and financial services, while the remaining five will join five separate teams: competition; global finance; investment funds; insurance; and restructuring.

A Sidley spokesperson said the 100 per cent offer rate was “a reflection of the overall activity levels in the London office, which have continued to grow impressively.”

They added that the 2020 qualifiers are the second cohort of trainees to qualify with following an overhaul of the trainee recruitment process.

“The main changes we made were to expand our vacation schemes (we now run five each year) and to try and recruit all (or almost all) our trainees from our vacation schemes,” the spokesperson said. “We’re finding that this process is working really well: it means we can assess the candidates over a two-week period and it gives the students an opportunity to do real work and get proper insight into the culture of the firm and the office.”

Sidley’s retention results over the years have been up and down, partly because with only a handful of trainees, one or two departures can make a big difference to its overall percentage.

With its announcement the firm kicks off what could yet be a turbulent autumn retention round, with uncertainty in the air for NQs as the threat of a coronavirus-sparked downturn looms.