The job squeeze

First came the wave of training contract deferrals, as many of the top law firms scrambled to find volunteers to delay their training contract start dates by a year. Next, as the recession deepened, recruitment targets (for training contracts starting in 2011) were scaled back, with Eversheds and Field Fisher Waterhouse going so far as to close their graduate recruitment programmes altogether until next year. Then, during the summer, firms took the opportunity to cut headcount further by reducing trainee retention rates on qualification to approximately 70% - a significant drop from the 90%-plus retention figures that were the norm in the boom years.

As the recession forces law firms to reconsider their business models, the amount of training places is falling. Alex Aldridge takes a look at what the future may hold for law students

First came the wave of training contract deferrals, as many of the top law firms scrambled to find volunteers to delay their training contract start dates by a year. Next, as the recession deepened, recruitment targets (for training contracts starting in 2011) were scaled back, with Eversheds and Field Fisher Waterhouse going so far as to close their graduate recruitment programmes altogether until next year. Then, during the summer, firms took the opportunity to cut headcount further by reducing trainee retention rates on qualification to approximately 70% – a significant drop from the 90%-plus retention figures that were the norm in the boom years.

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