Dundas & Wilson makes £12,000 saving by cancelling vacation scheme

Dundas & Wilson will save approximately £12,000 by not running its London vacation scheme this summer, a decision taken just weeks before it was due to start.

The firm blamed “changes in the structure of the legal market” on its decision, made just weeks before students were due to spend a fortnight at the firm (5 June 2013).

Dundas & Wilson advertises 24 places for its London summer vacation scheme, spread over one month. Vacation schemers are paid approximately £250-£300 per week in the City. Lawyer 2B calculates that £250 per week for a fortnight’s work by 24 trainees works out at £12,000, excluding partner time costs and events.

In cancelling the vacation scheme, the firm sacrifices the ‘soft costs’ of marketing, campus presence, recruitment and assessment. These are generally included within a firm’s trainee recruitment budget, which allocates around £200,000 for each trainee.

The firm declined to comment on Lawyer2B’s calculations.

The news follows Dundas’s decision to defer its next two trainee intakes. It told all of its 2014 trainee cohort and eight of 13 of its 2013 intake that their contracts would be deferred for a year (4 June 2013).

Newly-qualified (NQ) lawyers also face stiff competition for roles, after the firm stated last month that there would only be three NQ positions available, giving it a retention rate of just 27 per cent (24 May 2013).

Trainee and vacation scheme developments come against a background of partner drop-outs, mainly from the London outpost. During the last financial year, 15 partners are known to have left Dundas (7 February 2013).

In May co-managing partner Allan Wernham said the firm was pushing to secure a London merger following a string of exits in the City and failed talks with Bircham Dyson Bell in 2011 (13 May 2013).

In February it confirmed that it had not held any merger talks with rumoured suitor Eversheds (15 February 2013).

Despite the exits, Dundas’ co-managing partner Caryn Penley insisted in February that its London office was still at the heart of its growth strategy (7 February 2013).

Penley said at the time: “We’ve been open about our plans to manage our business. We’re focusing on our strengths in both Scotland and London. Our London office is a key platform for us going forward.”