A&O retention rates plummet to 72 per cent

Allen & Overy (A&O) has come forward as the first magic circle firm to confirm retention rates for its Autumn 2011 qualifiers.

The firm has offered jobs to only 39 out of its 53 final seat trainee solicitors, with 38 accepting positions resulting in 72 a per cent retention rate.

This is the lowest retention rate reported by the magic firm for more than three years. In Spring 2009 the firm boasted a 91 per cent retention rate with 51 out of 56 trainees being offered newly qualified positions. One trainee decided not to apply for a newly qualified position at the time.

This figure dropped slightly during the Autmn 2009 and Spring 2010 qualification rounds when A&O retained over 80 per cent of its newly qualfied lawyers after warning final seat trainees that retention rates could crash to 70 per cent (read more). Meanwhile, earlier this year the firm’s retention rate sat 88 per cent.

In a statement a spokesperson for A&O said: “Our September 2011 retention rate is disappointing, but it does not reflect either our historic retention rate or our expectations for the future.”

The news follows rival firm Slaughter and May’s announcement last week that it is set to retain 100 per cent of its Autumn 2011 qualifiers, keeping all 59 of its trainee solicitors (read full story).

Meanwhile, national firm Pinsent Masons has posted a retention rate of 69 per cent holding onto 31 out of 45 final seat trainees, after making 32 offers.

Elsewhere, US firms Sidley Austin and Shearman & Sterling revealed results of 100 per cent and 91.5 per cent respectively (full story).

The first firm to report a 100 per cent retention rate was Chicago-based Kirkland & Ellis, which is also doubling its trainee intake (read more).