Lovells makes U-turn on paying trainees to defer

Lovells has reneged on its decision not to offer a cash payment to trainee solicitors who have decided to defer.

The firm has written to its Autumn 2009, Spring and Autumn 2010 intakes offering a £5,000 cash payment to those who delay their start dates by 12 months and £2,500 for any who decide to defer for six months.

Lovells’ first letter to its future joiners did not contain any details of compensation. But since that initial communication to its trainees news has emerged of a number of firms offering cash incentives to trainees who defer.

According to a Lovells spokesperson the firm had always planned to offer the payments to those willing to defer.

He said: “We reject any notion of a U-turn. We approached this discussion with our future trainees as a two-stage process – the first to identify potential deferrers and the second to then outline a payment to all those taking six-12 months out. Other firms have done it differently.

“We’ve had a good response so far, with some people considering charity work, further study or travel and there is a deadline of 8 March for people to take up the offer.

“If after that we still need more people to change their start dates we’ll have to select people. These individuals will also be eligible for the payment.”

Norton Rose has so far emerged as the most generous, offering up to £10,000.

Meanwhile, Baker & McKenzie, DLA Piper and Penningtons are paying a flat rate of £5,000 to trainees who agree to delay their start dates for a year.

Herbert Smith has offered a payment that is believed to be above the prevailing market rate of £5,000.