Shearman, Dechert defer trainee start dates

Shearman & Sterling and Dechert have emerged as the latest major law firms to ask their future trainee solicitors to delay their start dates.

Shearman has handed out £5,000 to each of the four trainees, who were due to join the firm earlier this month (March), to push back their start dates to September 2009.

A spokesperson for the firm told “We decided to ask our trainees to defer so that we could manage the costs involved in training. It’s more cost effective to train everyone in one go rather than in two separate groups.”

Dechert has also confirmed that it is in discussions with 13 trainees due to join the firm in September 2009 regarding voluntary deferrals. But though the firm plans to offer trainees a financial incentive the amount is yet to be determined.

Travers Smith has emerged as one of the most generous law firms so far in relation to deferring trainee solicitor start dates and is offering an unconditional £10,000 cash payment to future trainees who defer for 12 months. In contrast, the vast majority of firms have paid £5,000 to trainees who have had their start dates delayed by a year.

Clifford Chance, however, is offering a flat rate of £8,000, which can be topped up by an additional £3,000 if the trainees decide to spend the year doing pro bono or community work or if they pursue further studies relating to law or a language.

Norton Rose, meanwhile, is offering up to £10,000 to students who put forward a proposal on why they should be eligible for the payment.

Hammonds and Simmons & Simmons have come up with the most novel ways to deal with junior staffing levels with the former sending future trainees on client secondments and the latter encouraging students to enroll on a firm specific MBA at BPP Law School.