Stewarts posts 25% retention

Stewarts Law is to retain just 25 per cent of its trainees this autumn, giving it the lowest retention score of any firm to have announced its results so far this year, Lawyer 2B can reveal.

The firm said that one out of four trainees eligible for qualification will be staying at the firm, with the sole retained lawyer understood to be based in Stewarts’ Leeds office.

There are another eight trainees on the scheme, but they are all due for qualification next year.

Weil Gotshal & Manges posted a retention score of 50 per cent, while Kirkland & Ellis’ results were also a lukewarm 55 per cent. Taylor Wessing revealed its lowest score in a decade at 62 per cent, just below Mishcon de Reya.

The low retention score comes a month after the firm announced its strongest-ever set of financial results.

Average profit per equity partner (PEP) grew 30 per cent from £1.5m to £2m, while total revenue was up by 25 per cent from £62.4m to £78.1m.

Sources claim the firm has “been on a drive for profits in place of organic growth and development”, while revenue is also understood to have picked up on the back of several big ticket pieces of litigation in 2016/17 including the MasterCard fees case.

They add the high profits can also be reached on account of Stewarts’ small equity partnership, in which just 35 per cent of members are in the equity.

Stewarts is one of a number of firms that are known to recruit exclusively from their paralegal pool.

The firm counted a total of 247 fee-earners in the 2016/17 financial year, including paralegals and trainees.

A total of 145 of these were partners and associates, leaving Stewarts with nearly 100 paralegals, trainees and legal executives at its disposal.

Last year, the firm revamped its pay and incentives for paralegals, associates and business services staff in a bid to increase retention and attract the best junior talent.