This is the first of our seasonal retention round ups as firms across the UK announce which of their trainees will be staying on as newly qualified solicitors. We tend to find that firms that reveal their scores early do so because they are keen to spread the good news, and this year is no exception.
It’s spring retention season and the early birds have already announced their latest retention scores. Earliest bird of all, as ever, was Mayer Brown, so let’s start with them. The firm posted its results before the Christmas trees were even up, revealing that all four trainees had accepted NQ positions starting in March. The firm’s full marks this round is an improvement on the eight out of 10 score it recorded last autumn.
First out of the blocks of the magic circle outfits was Slaughter and May, no doubt pleased to tell the world about its 97% score. Only one of its 35 March qualifiers is leaving the firm, a slight improvement on its already impressive 95% this time last year and 86% return last autumn.
Not shy of patting itself on the back, a spokesman commended the firm for keeping in line with previous years before adding that “we would like to congratulate all of our newly qualified associates”.
Slaughter and May is top dog so far of those magic circle firms to have announced, ahead of Clifford Chance’s 90% (46 out of 51) and Allen & Overy’s 83%. Clifford Chance has 51 trainees qualifying this spring, of which 46 will be staying on as NQs. This is an uplift from the Canary Wharf-based firm’s 77% last autumn and only a tiny dip from its 92% score in spring 2018. Clifford Chance takes the second most trainees each year, currently 95 to Linklaters’ 100.
Thirty-nine of Allen & Overy’s 47 qualifiers are staying with firm, giving it a score of 83%, which is in line with recent figures of 80%, 82% and 85%. Not stellar results, but consistent and highly acceptable nonetheless.
Linklaters and Freshfields have yet to announce and we await their results with interest.
Elsewhere, City firm Stephenson Harwood has proudly confirmed that all eight of this season’s qualifiers will continue their careers with the firm. Training partner Neil Noble was keen to emphasise that the firm continues “to place great importance on forming a strong pipeline of talent, as part of our ambitious growth strategy”.
Boston-based outfit Ropes & Gray is the first of the US firms to reveal its London spring retentions. The big news though isn’t that it is keeping on two of its three qualifiers (67%) but what that pair will be earning as NQs. They will start on a healthy £120,000, a rise of 4% that puts them in line with contemporaries at US competitors such as Davis Polk & Wardwell, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Sidley Austin. The firm kept on all six of its qualifiers last autumn.
That’s it so far. We will post an update as and when the rest of the top firms release their figures. As always, we will be keeping a beady eye out for firms trying to hide poor results from media scrutiny.