Training contract applications rocket as vacancies plummet

The number of applications per training contract position has rocketed by 150 per cent this year, sending competition for training contracts in an already tight recruitment market soaring.

Law firms are receiving an average of 130 applications per trainee position this year compared with an average of 52 in 2008, according to research from Sweet & Maxwell.

At the same time, figures from the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) have revealed that vacancies in the legal sector have plummeted by over 19 per cent this year.

While the figures are stark, Baker & McKenzie graduate recruitment partner Vincent Keaveny said they are not surprising given the retrenchment in the financial services industry.

“It’s clearly going be incredibly difficult to come by interview slots and it’s also going to be a challenge to screen all the applications,” he said.

“It’s going to be a case of an embarrassment of riches because it’s going to be much more difficult to find the right candidates from a higher number of applications.”

Orrick graduate recruitment partner Simon Cockshutt said the findings show that applicants are applying to a greater number of firms in a bid to “spread their bets”.

He said: “Many firms have put recruitment plans on hold, or scaled back for the moment, so there are fewer training contracts for probably more candidates than were applying in 2008.”

Although the deadline for training contract applications at most law firms end in July, DLA Piper graduate recruitment executive Claire Evans said she has seen an increase in applications for vacations schemes.

She said: “We’ve seen a steady increase in applications over the last couple of years, and our summer scheme application numbers this January were up by about 15 per cent on last year.”