Blake Lapthorn halves recruitment after deferring trainees

Blake Lapthorn is scaling back its graduate recruitment programme for 2011 by “about half” after asking its trainee solicitors to push back their start dates.

The firm has held a series of face-to-face meetings with its prospective trainees due to start in 2009 and 2010, asking them to defer for 12 months for a flat payment of £5,000.

But for those who do not want to take the cash Blake Lapthorn has pledged to try and find them paralegal positions with the firm where available.

Head of HR Alistair Gray said: “We’ve limited the requests for voluntary deferrals to half our 2009 and 2010 intakes so that we can recruit from the excellent and numerous candidates who have submitted online applications for 2011.”

Just over 30 firms have so far confirmed that they are deferring their trainee start dates including Linklaters, Travers Smith and Trowers & Hamlins, which are all paying £10,000 to trainees who agree to delay their training contracts by a year.

Others, which have also introduced voluntary deferrals, include Clifford Chance, Eversheds, DLA Piper, Mayer Brown, Norton Rose, Pinsent Masons, Shearman & Sterling and Taylor Wessing.

Shoosmiths, meanwhile, is the only firm that is not compensating deferring trainees or those who decide to withdraw their training contracts and is understood to have made the move compulsory after insufficient volunteers come forward.

The only other firm to have introduced compulsory deferrals is Field Fisher Waterhouse, which as a result has put its graduate recruitment programme on hold until next year.