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's 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'd have better training if they come back to us when the market picks up. We're simply being honest and open with our employees.”