A&O trims annual trainee intake for third time in four years

Allen & Overy (A&O) has announced that it will trim back the number of trainees it takes on from 2015, as the firm joins Olswang and Wragge & Co in confirming retention rates for its autumn qualifiers.

The magic circle firm will recruit 85 trainees per year as of 2015, down from the current annual intake of 90, with the decision coming after the firm two years ago announced it would scale back the number of London training contracts it offers from 105 to 90 from 2014.

The latest move marks A&O’s third reduction in graduate recruitment in four years, after it also announced at the height of the financial crisis in 2009 that it would cut its trainee intake from 120 to 105 from 2011. The fall from 120 to 85 marks a combined drop of almost 30%.

A&O graduate recruitment partner Richard Hough (pictured) said: “We aim to recruit for the long-term as well as providing a high quality training contract. Managing our intake numbers means that we aren’t just offering our trainees excellent training and experience, but also a strong prospect of a long-term career with the firm after qualification”.

Magic circle counterpart Clifford Chance also last December confirmed that it will reduce the target number of graduate trainees for its 2015 intake, with the new figure set at 100, down from a target of 120.

The news comes alongside confirmation of A&O’s retention figures for its September intake. Of a 54-strong cohort, 51 applied to qualify, with the firm offering jobs to 45. Thirty-nine of the group accepted the offer, equating to a retention rate of 72%.

A&O training principal David Campbell said: “The job market for NQs continues to be tough but we are pleased to have been able to offer jobs to so many of our trainees. A number of this year’s intake decided not to accept offers, so our retention rate is lower than we expected.”

Elsewhere, Olswang and Wragges have also announced the details of their autumn qualifying intakes.

Olswang is keeping on 55% of its September NQs after offering jobs to seven of 11 qualifiers, of which six accepted. The group staying on include three in real estate, two in commercial and one in corporate.

The firm added that it is supporting those leaving the firm in their search for a new job, with three of the five already securing positions elsewhere.

Global HR director Ffion Griffith said: “We have been working in the last couple of years to make sure that our graduate recruitment scheme is in line with the changing needs of the legal market and the firm’s adapting requirements. We have been reducing the size of our trainee intake, but have also included the MA in Law with Business in the programme, therefore giving trainees a strong understanding of the commercial backdrop to their legal training and to the industries in which our clients operate.”

Meanwhile, Wragges is retaining 11 NQs from a group of 16 qualifiers, resulting in a 69% rate. The firm stated that it had offered jobs to all 16, but the five who turned down the offer had wanted to work in a different practice area or change location.