Retention rates promise stability for new lawyers

Eight out of 10 newbies are kept in the fold; Burges Salmon, Salans, Wragges show 100 per cent record

Retention rates promise stability for new lawyersLaw firms have kept nearly eight out of 10 of their newly qualified solicitors and abandoned the pay-cutting policies that were widespread last year, an exclusive Lawyer 2B survey of the top 50 UK firms has revealed.

The picture painted by the research is one of increasing stability for newly qualified lawyers, who have borne the brunt of the economic slowdown.

Of 1,385 September 2004 qualifiers, 1,097 have been retained, while 288 parted company with their firms.

Three firms Burges Salmon, Salans and Wragge & Co were able to retain all their new qualifiers, while Bevan Ashford, Macfarlanes, Osborne Clarke and Simmons & Simmons said they intended to match this with the trainees who qualify in spring 2005.

The magic circle firms, by far the biggest recruiters,
all turned in above-average retention rates in the 80s and 90s.

With the departure of 18 new solicitors, Denton Wilde Sapte had the highest amount of leavers, while in percentage terms the worst performer was Lawrence Graham, which retained only 50 per cent of its 16 new qualifiers.

Wragges senior partner Quentin Poole attacked firms that released trainees in a bid to make savings as short-sighted, and called for them to take a longer-term view.

There was positive news when it came to pay. This year not one firm in the top 50 cut its salary rate for newly qualified lawyers. This is in sharp contrast to last year, when around a fifth, including the UKs largest law firm Clifford Chance, rolled out paycuts. The average salary of a newly qualified solicitor is now nearly 46,000 a 2 per cent increase on last year.

Twelve law firms now pay 50,000 upon qualification compared with nine last year, while Linklaters stands alone with the top salary of 51,000.