Berwin Leigton Paisner managing partner Neville Eisenberg has pledged that his firm will maintain the number of trainee places it currently offers.
“Will we continue to recruit the same number of trainees?” asked Eisenberg. “Absolutely. Yes. We think it’s part of our commitment to the legal community.”
He added: “But there will be pressure on trainee places. We’ll continue to see the rise of the paralegal – that’s important when talking about the trainee population.”
BLP offers 40 to 45 trainee vacancies a year, a number that has not decreased over the course of the recession. It has also usually posted good trainee retention rates in recent years, keeping on 16 of 18 (89 per cent) of its qualifiers in Spring 2014, and retaining a total of 162 out of 196 (83 per cent) in the ten qualification rounds since Autumn 2009.
However, these figures are in contrast to several other large City firms. Allen & Overy has decreased its trainee intake to 85 per year from pre-recession highs of 120, while Clifford Chance will take a maximum of 100 from 2015, again down from 120.
Eisenberg warned: “Firms are going to be much more conscious of managing the fee-earner population and that will have an impact on career structures. The shape of the market will change.”
The paralegal market has grown as firms have looked to cut costs by reducing trainee intakes. A 2013 work-based learning pilot by Nottingham Trent University, found that paralegals on the pilot held the “same skills and competencies as those who have been through the traditional training contract.” (18 Apr 2013)