Weil Gotshal & Manges to up trainee count

US firm Weil Gotshal & Manges is boosting the number of training contracts for September 2004. This autumn seven trainees started in the London office, while another three will join in March 2003. By September 2004, the firm aims to have recruited another 12 trainees. Last year Weil Gotshal paid its trainees a starting salary of 35,000, which rose to 60,000 on qualification.

New lawyers earn top wages

Starting salaries in the legal profession are still streets ahead of the rest of the graduate market, according to figures from the Association of Graduate Recruiters. Trainee lawyers earn an average of 28,000, while those starting out in the accountancy world earn just 17,500.

Merged chambers create Birmingham giant…

Birmingham sets St Philips Chambers and No 1 Fountain Court have merged to form the largest chambers in the country. With 140 tenants working across commercial, criminal and family law, the combined set’s turnover will push 14m.

… as 24a and 28 St John Street join forces

Manchester sets 24a and 28 St John Street are also joining forces in October to create the largest chambers in the city. John McNeill, head of 24a St John Street, said he believed the “future is in larger sets”.

Queen Mary wins 6.5m for IP research

The Intellectual Property (IP) Research Institute at Queen Mary, University of London, has received a 6.5m bequest. The lump sum, which is the largest donation ever made to IP research in this country, came from philanthropic scientist and IP rights champion Herchel Smith. Queen Mary plans to use the money to fund fellowships and teaching positions and to expand its number of PhD positions.

Trainee lawyers ‘drowning in debt’

Trainee lawyers are “drowning in debt”, according to a year-long study by the Trainee Solicitors’ Group. The survey revealed that debts can range between 15,000-30,000 on qualification. Chair of the TSG Verity Chase called on the Law Society to take action against the “ever-spiralling” costs of post-graduate course fees.

Foot Anstey doubles number of trainees

South West law firm Foot Anstey Sargent is doubling the number of training contracts on offer this year, from four to eight. The firm’s trainees earn 15,000 during the first year of their training contracts, which rises to 17,000 by the second year and 26,500 on qualification.

Picton Howell offers 2,000 for essay

City firm Picton Howell is offering cash prizes in return for essays on international law. The winner will receive 2,000 and three runners-up will win 500. Picton Howell plans to run the competition on an annual basis.

Middleton Potts to run summer scheme again

Trade and shipping firm Middleton Potts’ summer scholarship scheme was so successful that the firm plans to run it again next year. Post graduate students had to submit essays to be considered for a three-week placement, with the added incentive of a 500 prize for the best entry.