Vacation scheme application numbers rocket

Graduate recruitment partners have reported a marked increase in applications for vacation scheme placements this year as competition for training contracts soars.

Of the firms surveyed, Bird & Bird reported one of the highest increases – 71 per cent – after the number of applications this year rocketed from approximately 700 to 1,200.

Head of graduate and trainee management Lynne Walters said: “We increased our campus activities and really got involved with the students. I think the really savvy students have researched the firms that have good practice areas and those firms that didn’t defer and had good retention rates, like us.”

The news comes after Bird & Bird emerged as the first firm to announce a 100 per cent retention rate last year.

Slaughter and May has also seen a rise in applications for its summer vacation scheme, reporting a 22 per cent increase.

The firm’s graduate recruitment partner Robert Byk said: “Given the quality of the applicants and limited number of places, it makes the selection of people for the work experience scheme even more challenging and so a number of good candidates haven’t made the scheme.”

Elsewhere, Lovells has reported a 20 per cent increase in application numbers while DLA Piper has seen a 15 per cent jump.

Magic circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has seen a marginal increase, of 6 per cent, putting it on par with top 20 law firm Denton Wilde Sapte, which also saw a 6 per cent rise.

The news comes after Dentons announced that it would be shedding 86 per cent of its spring 2010 qualifiers, giving it a retention rate of 14 per cent.

Berwin Leighton Paisner, meanwhile, has seen an increase in applications of just 1.5 per cent.