Linklaters shells out £14,250 to deferrers

Linklaters has sparked a student scramble by offering 30 future trainees a £14,250 lump sum if they defer for a year, while KLegal has held crisis talks with the trainees it tried to defer for £2,500.

Feedback from Linklaters suggests the programme has been oversubscribed, but corporate partner Charlie Jacobs, who is responsible for graduate recruitment, said the places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

The magic circle firm, which is deferring 15 trainees from its September 2003 intake and a further 15 from its March 2004 intake, has raised the stakes in the deferral game with a stress-free year out on half salary.

Yet KLegal has been locked in negotiations to rethink its deferral package after the accountancy-tied firm reduced its offering by £7,500 between July and November. It is understood that at least one trainee considered legal action and many complained. Top 10 firm Norton Rose has also offered 20 future lawyers a £10,000 package for a 12-month break.

Jacobs said Linklaters still plans to recruit 125 trainees as usual this year and is “confident” that the firm&#39s level of work will have recovered sufficiently to allow the first batch of deferred trainees to start work.

He added: “Our level of business has dropped and we will not be able to give the trainees the best practical experience. [We feel] they&#39d have better training if they come back to us when the market picks up. We&#39re simply being honest and open with our employees.”