Allen & Overy (A&O) threw away more money invested on trainees than any other top 20 UK firm, according to research by The Lawyer that shows that trainee attrition last year cost magic circle outfits more than £10m between them.
Calculations based on 2012/13 cohorts show A&O wasted £2.8m of the £11.1m it spent on its trainee scheme including the LPC course fee, maintenance grants and first and second-year salaries. This is on the basis of 28 of its 111 trainees not being retained after spending £100,000 on each one.
An A&O spokesperson commented: “When you factor in revenue generated by the trainees during their contract we don’t make a loss on our trainee group. But more importantly this a crucial investment in the future of the business. While retention rates may rise and fall with the market, there will always be a need to attract and retain the most talented people and that’s an investment well worth making.”
Pinsent Masons lost £2.2m after 23 trainees - costing £8.6m in total - left the firm. Pinsents was the poorest performer outside the magic circle by this measure, followed by Herbert Smith Freehills, which spent £101,000 each on 88 trainees and lost £1.9m after 19 did not continue at the firm.
The figures do not include partner time, training, marketing and graduate recruitment costs, all of which are likely to involve significant economies of scale.
Bird & Bird was the most efficient of the top 20, losing just £92,600 after keeping on 11 of its 12 trainees, on whom it spend £92,600 each.
Meanwhile, data compiled by The Lawyer shows that retention rates across the top 20 have fallen by 5 percentage points in the last year, from 83 per cent to 78 per cent. In 2012, 361 of a total 432 trainees were kept on by the top 20 firms. That compares with 370 of a total 474 trainees in 2013.
Of the magic circle, only Clifford Chance bucked the downward trend. The firm revealed a 6 per cent boost in its retention tables, from 76 per cent last spring to 82 per cent this year. However, the firm also reduced its trainee intake target, which is being managed down from 120 to 100 from 2015.
For more detail on the efficiency of firms’ trainee schemes and the developing shape of the traineeship scene, see feature
Trainee spend and retention across the top 50 UK firms by revenue, 2012/13
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