Revealed: A&O takes biggest hit as magic circle squanders £10m on lost trainees

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  • It is absolute rubbish that a firm spends this much money on a trainee. Just because a partner gives a trainee a two hour lecture and then internally bills it at £800 it does not mean that is the true value, the reality is it costs a little bit of the partners free time every week and that is only if they train the trainee properly.

    If a partner did have £800 of work sitting on his desk it would not be discarded because of some training more likely the trainee would be doing the donkey work so the partner could earn the fees.

    I fail to see how any comparison of cost of training trainees shows anything when in reality firms are just inventing the figure.

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  • Have you just taken the 2 year salary for a trainee and multiplied it by the number of trainees leaving in order to produce a "total loss" figure? Given that trainees are billed out to clients, isn't the 'true loss' likely to be a lot smaller, if indeed it is a loss at all?

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  • This is rubbish. I billed over £250k in fees in my first year as a trainee alone.

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  • This article really is a load of rubbish. Why is there talk of loss when large sums are billed out for a trainee's work? If the article was about how some firms don't bill for trainee work, then fine. However the article doesn't do this.

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  • This is typical lawyer math.

    Step 1: take trainee salaries, kindly released for public review
    Step 2: count how many trainees are around
    Step 3: multiple step 1 by step 2
    Step 4: create a sub-total (it might exceed the number of fingers, so whip out a calculator)
    Step 5: Add in a random guess as to LPC / GDL fees (likely by simply taking the number from the CoL / BPP webistes)
    Step 6: Add in maintence grants (if any).
    Step 7: Hit "=" on the calculator and hope for the best.
    Step 8: write an article, entitle it "REVEALED" and then hope no one asks how the numbers were arrived at.

    * Note - many of the above steps will likely need to be redone multiple times as most members of the legal profession struggle to do basic maths.

    Whilst I jest, in part, this is ridiculous. Please provide a breakdown of your calculations if you want anyone to believe that the above figures are either accurate or represent a true "cost" to the firm.

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  • I would debate the absolute 'loss' figures, but a high attrition rate for trainees is a loss to the firm concerned. There is the opportunity cost to a Partner or Senior Associate training them, the fees, the loss of time for HR and with respect firms could simply take the view with regards the work a trainee does during their training (which needs to be done) that it could be done by a skilled paralegal, at higher profit and probably less hassle. Also the days of clients putting up with trainees acting as glorified photocopying clerks but being billed out at a trainee rate are long gone. Trainee costs are an overhead, one which will give dividends to the firm but long term and only if they stay.

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  • I head the in-house legal function of a financial services business. We don't pay for trainees and have not done so for several years. Who are these clients who are happy to pay for them? If any of my law firms try billing out trainees they get short shrift.

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  • Mr Burns, hopefully you weren't paying Anon | 29-Apr-2013 10:54 am for his £ 250K per year.

    No disrespect Anon but that work probably could have been done by soemone else at much more profit to the firm. In time, your training will justify such billings and much much more. Most clients wont pay for a trainee. Must NQ's are next to useless, but then they become valuable lawyers.

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  • One could argue that a magic circle firm which retains a smaller percentage of its trainees possibly ends up with a more talented bunch of newly qualifieds than its rivals who retain a higher percentage. But I'm sure there's a massive hole in this argument and someone will kindly point it out.

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  • I don't think that financial considerations solely dictate the decisions of big firms to offer training contracts.

    If that was the sole motivation, firms would simply stop offering TCs and instead swoop for lawyers at 3-4 yr PQE.

    They don't because law firms benefit in lots of other ways from the TC process.

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