Training contract vacancies slump as recession bites

Graduate vacancies in the legal sector have dropped by 7.5 per cent, according to a recent survey, which highlights plummeting figures across all other industries.

Graduate vacancies in the legal sector have dropped by 7.5 per cent, according to a recent survey, which highlights plummeting figures across all other industries.

The Graduate Market in 2009 report, which was carried out by High Fliers Research, has revealed that graduate jobs have been cut substantially during this year’s recruitment season.

According to the survey, the legal sector has only seen a 7.5 per cent reduction in vacancies compared to an overall drop of 13.5 per cent of openings across the UK’s top 100 graduate employers.

Graduate recruitment officer at CMS Cameron McKenna Victoria Wisson said: “In comparison to other industries, where some have halved their vacancies, the law sector can be viewed as one of the most stable. Many industries have closed their applications early but the majority of law firms are still open and this should give confidence to students that there are training contracts available.”

Predictably, investment banking has been one of the biggest casualties having reported a 35.2 per cent drop in recruitment since 2008.

But chemicals and pharmaceuticals have been hardest hit with vacancies down by a whopping 36.8 per cent.

Managing director of High Fliers Research Martin Birchall said the reduction in vacancy levels could not have come at a worse time.

He said: “The Class of 2009 are facing one of the toughest job markets of the last two decades and there’s now the very real prospect that tens of thousands of new graduates will be left unemployed after leaving university this year.”

Many top employers have received a record number of applications for their 2009 graduate vacancies and the legal sector is no exception, having reported an increase of 5.6 per cent.

According to the results, there is an average of 27 applicants chasing every position.

The biggest competition is in investment banking, with 100 applicants vying for each role.

The news comes after Lawyer2B.com reported that many law firms have closed the shutters on training contract applications for 2011 and 2012.

Allen & Overy has closed its applications for training contracts starting in September 2011 and March 2012 ahead of schedule.

Fellow magic circle firm Clifford Chance has also filled all the spots on its August 2011 and February 2012 intakes and will no longer be running any training contract assessment centres for those cohorts.

Linklaters, meanwhile, has announced it will only be recruiting for its September 2011 intake this year. The firm has already hired 26 non-law graduates, leaving 29 places available for law graduates.