Simmons & Simmons lets 50% of autumn qualifers go

Simmons & Simmons has retained 50 per cent of its qualifying trainees this September.

Of a 24-strong cohort, 17 applied for newly-qualified (NQ) jobs with the firm. Of those, 13 received offers with 12 accepting.

Speaking to Lawyer 2B, training principal Alan Gar said he was disappointed with the result and acknowledged the “inconsistency” in Simmons’ retention over the last few rounds. The firm kept on 96 per cent of qualifiers as recently as autumn 2014, and has kept on in excess of 80 per cent of qualifiers five times in the 13 rounds since autumn 2010, but has retained under 60 per cent five times in the same time period, including last spring.

Gar attributed the most recent result in part to “a period of uncertainty caused by Brexit,” saying: “We think that had an impact on the round, but would not pretend that was the only factor. It is not always possible to match a trainee’s first choice with internal demand, and in the usual way, there were a number of factors outside of our control as well, with trainees opting to leave.”

Gar added: “I’m very confident those who have left will be very successful outside the firm, and I am genuinely sad to see them go.”

This summer Simmons revamped its trainee recruitment system, placing less emphasis on candidates’ past achievements, and launched a ‘Trainee Skills Academy’ for its new joiners. The firm also cut a number of real estate lawyers as a result of the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

Simmons NQ retention 2016

Meanwhile, national firm Shoosmiths is holding on to 14 of 18 final-seat trainees in England, plus its one Scotland-based qualifier, giving it a final retention figure of 79 per cent.

There were 25 potential job vacancies listed across the firm. A Shoosmiths spokesperson said: “We made offers to 17 of the 19 final-seat trainees. Of the two who declined offers, one moved to a US firm.”

The firm’s Birmingham and Manchester offices will both take three newly-qualified (NQ) solicitors. Milton Keynes, Southampton and Nottingham all welcome two, while London, Reading and Edinburgh take one each.

The departments taking most NQ are real estate and commercial, which both take three. Banking, tax and corporate all take two, and employment, property litigation and insolvency one apiece.

Shoosmiths has already recruited 20 trainees to start in 2018, but says that with London office growing rapidly and its Leeds office will be two years old by the end of 2018 it anticipates that the firm we will need 25 trainees rather than 20 for both 2018 and 2019.