A&O asks trainees to defer

Allen & Overy (A&O) has emerged as the latest magic circle firm to ask its future trainee solicitors to push back their start dates.

The firm has asked its future joiners due to start between September 2009 and September 2011 to voluntarily defer for either six or 12 months.

It will be offering cohorts a grant of £9,000 for deferrals of 12 months and £4,500 for six months.

A&O will also be pledging an additional “good causes award” of £2,000 for 12 months or £1,000 for six months to those who take part in pro bono work or further study. 

A spokesperson for A&O said in a statement: “Offering deferrals is a logical step for us in the current climate. We have just completed a globalrestructuring which has an impact on the number of trainees we can support. By offering the option to defer (and it is entirely voluntary), we maintain both the quality of training and the qualification prospects that our trainees expect.”

The news comes after Linklaters asked for around 15 volunteers to defer from both its September 2009 and March 2010 intakes in a bid to “fine tune” its trainee cohorts.

It will be offering both cohorts the option to defer for 12 months for a flat fee of £10,000 and will also give its March 2010 intake the option of deferring for 6 months for a payment of £5,000.

Magic circle rival Clifford Chance, meanwhile, confirmed in March that it too had contacted trainees who were due to start in August 2009 and February 2010 to ask them to defer for 12 months.

It will be offering £8,000 cash, with an additional payment of up to £3,000 for trainees who decide to pursue specific pro bono projects or, alternatively, undertake further legal or language studies.