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Law Firms Defer Training Contracts as Opportunities for Newly Qualified Solicitors Fall


Opportunities for trainee solicitors qualifying in 2009 are going to be scarce. This is the message we are hearing from law firms up and down the country. So far we have heard that law firms are going to be able to offer jobs to 20% to 50% of their own trainee solicitors with only a handful of firms aiming to achieve around 70%-90% retention.

In recent years there has been a huge demand for newly qualified solicitors particularly in the booming corporate and commercial property sectors. In 2009 demand for jobs internally is going to be high and any external jobs that are advertised are going to be fiercely sought after.

James Batt, Director of regional legal recruitment consultancy BCL Legal advises that “it is very important for trainee solicitors who are approaching qualification to consider all the opportunities that are available. They must consider options in other parts of the country and qualifying into areas of law not necessarily their first choice. It is also imperative not to make these decisions too late in the process, make them now”.

There are also going to be fewer opportunities for training contracts and as a result, the number of newly qualified solicitors over the next two to three years is going to fall. Due to a continuing deterioration in market conditions Lovells has asked its future trainee solicitors to defer their training. Trainee solicitors due to join the firm in 2009 and 2010 have been asked if they will defer their training contracts.

Halliwells has just pushed back the start dates for its 76-strong 2009 and 2010 trainee intakes. Half the future joiners have had their start dates deferred by twelve months in return for a cash payment of £4,000. The law firm is no longer recruiting for September 2011 and only accepting training contract applications commencing in March 2012.

Baker & McKenzie has become the latest law firm to ask its incoming trainees to postpone their start date. The firm’s London office has asked for volunteers from its September 2009 and 2010 intakes to defer starting their training contracts by either six or twelve months. Those who want to defer for twelve months have been offered a financial incentive of £5,000.

If you are qualifying this year contact BCL Legal on 0845 241 0933 and arrange a meeting with one of our consultants in Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Leeds, Bristol or Reading.
For a full list of our job vacancies visit


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